Wild report says Qualcomm has made a last minute decision about the Snapdragon 865

Wild report says Qualcomm has made a last minute decision about the Snapdragon 865
While Qualcomm designs its Snapdragon chips, they are actually made by a company that has the facilities to manufacture the components. The Snapdragon 855 and Snapdragon 855+ Mobile Platforms are both produced by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) using its 7nm process, and Qualcomm was expected to switch back to Samsung to build the new Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform using the 7nm process. But this might not be the case. According to Business Korea (via WCCFtech), Qualcomm decided to give the business to TSMC. This has not been confirmed, but the reason why this might be the case does seem to make sense.

Unlike TSMC, which is the world's largest independent foundry, Samsung designs its owns chips and manufactures them itself. The report suggests that Qualcomm is concerned that Samsung might use its chip designs to improve its Exynos chipsets. Speaking of Samsung's own SoCs, there is some unusual stuff going on behind the scenes. Typically, the Galaxy S line is powered by Samsung's latest Exynos chipsets in most regions of the world except for the U.S., China, and Japan; in those markets, the Galaxy S line is traditionally powered by the latest Snapdragon Mobile Platform. But a media report out of Samsung's home country of South Korea says that the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform will be found under the hood of next year's Galaxy S11 in all regions except for Europe. Galaxy S11 units sold in that continent will sport the new Exynos 990 chipset. The report added that Samsung executives believe that the Snapdragon 865 outperforms the Exynos 990 SoC. We can point out that the Snapdragon 865 will include ARM's latest and greatest CPU core, the Cortex-A77; the Exynos 990 features the Cortex-A76.

Samsung stopped production of its custom Mongoose CPU cores


While Qualcomm might have decided to keep production of its new flagship chip in the hands of TSMC, it appears that the Snapdragon 765 and Snapdragon 765G will still be manufactured by Samsung. Both TSMC and Samsung have had their moments in the industry. TSMC was the first to produce 7nm chips and Samsung was the first to use EUV.  The former, which refers to process size, is a way of measuring how many transistors can fit inside a chip; the lower the process number, the higher the number of transistors packed inside the integrated circuit. And the higher the number of transistors inside a chip, the more powerful and energy-efficient it is. Consider that Huawei's Kirin 990 5G chip packs over 10.3 billion transistors inside one little chipset. EUV stands for extreme ultraviolet lithography, a more precise way to mark up a chip for transistor placement. Using this technology allows more transistors to be placed inside a chip and we've already explained the benefits of that.


TSMC and Samsung are expected to move to the 5nm node next year, but not in time for the Snapdragon 865. TSMC, which manufactures Apple and Huawei's APs, should be offering 5nm production by the time Apple's A14 Bionic starts rolling off of the assembly lines which could help the iPhone maintain its performance edge over Android phones when the 2020 iPhones are released next fall.

Last month, Samsung stopped designing and producing its own custom Mongoose CPU cores and instead, plans to focus on graphics processing units (GPU) and Neural Processing Units (NPU) for AI functionality. Right now, Samsung relies on ARM's Mali GPU. We could be a year or more away before the company starts producing its own GPU chips.

Right now, TSMC owns a commanding 52.7% of the global foundry market, up 4.6 percentage points since the beginning of the year. Over the same period of time, Samsung's share has dropped 1.3 percentage points to 17.8%.

If Qualcomm has decided to continue using TSMC's foundry for the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, we would imagine that some word of this would be released through official channels. Unless that happens, we'd be surprised if Samsung doesn't make the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform.

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21 Comments

1. kamejoko

Posts: 256; Member since: Nov 10, 2011

and samsung no use 865. qualcomm will lost big customer.

2. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2512; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

Samsung would use the 865 regardless if they manufacture it themselves or not. They have no other choice, especially considering the deal they signed with Qualcomm when they dropped their lawsuit.

8. shm224

Posts: 317; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

Samsung announced that they are investing over $100B to compete in logic chip business -- which means pretty much every potential customer is also their competitor. QCOM's losing war with the FTC likewise puts QCOM at a great disadvantage -- QCOM would have to renegotiate all their licenses.

12. vincelongman

Posts: 5808; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

And since the Exynos 990 is still worse than to the 865 Which is why Samsung are using the 865 in more regions this year

7. pixel_ftw

Posts: 85; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

Not using Samsung facilities is the Right choice. Why use inferior facilities and deal with shady partner when you can do business with a reliable one with great reputation. Only die-hard samsung fanboy will get angry at qualcomm for doing this. Rest of the people will be more than OK with this.

9. shm224

Posts: 317; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

because TSMC no longer has to treat QCOM like a first-class customer.

10. vincelongman

Posts: 5808; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Neither will Samsung Semi lol Hence why Qualcomm went with TSMC's superior N7P process like Apple/MediaTek

17. shm224

Posts: 317; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

Sure, Apple/Mediatek are the reason QCOM should stay away.. because when push comes to shove, when TSMC's capacity is low, QCOM would be asked to look elsewhere.

3. Carlitos

Posts: 693; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

I vividly remember Samsung willing to work ans help Qualcom engineers a few years back during the 810 fiasco

11. vincelongman

Posts: 5808; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

It was too late for Qualcomm to redevelope the 810 on Samsung's 20nm process Hence why Qualcomm switched to Samsung for the 820 But then Samsung fell behind, so Qualcomm switched back to TSMC lol That's the pros and cons of being fabless Pros being you can switch to whichever process is superior or cheaper Cons being sometimes the process isn't what is promised

18. shm224

Posts: 317; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

Let's wait and see.. Remember how Digitimes had claimed that Apple was switching to TSMC every year (for at least 6 years) before Apple eventually did -- in large part because Samsung became a huge rival Apple couldn't ignore. Or how QCOM stuck to Samsung 10nm after it was widely rumored that QCOM switched to TSMC?

4. TheAccountant unregistered

Phonearena has a unique talent of mentioning Apple in any article which has nothing to do with Apple

6. Tizo101

Posts: 644; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

'which could help the iPhone maintain its performance edge over Android phones' This is definitely a clap back for the Snapdragon 865 showing flames to the all might A13 lol... Gone are the arguments, no one wants to play anymore

5. NotSure

Posts: 5; Member since: Aug 26, 2019

Do you get paid for the number of characters? All in one heap. What is 7 nm, what is EUV, a brief history of Samsung and TSMC.

16. Cicero

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

This is how you have to do it if you have in Google search spotlight.

13. Guseinguliev

Posts: 145; Member since: Mar 04, 2019

We would be very happy if Samsung abandons the Exinos completely. And in parallel to produce compact flagships that will compete with the iPhone 11 pro.

14. josephnero

Posts: 795; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

SD865 Uses vanilla A77 cores so most likely this report is BS just like other sammy rumours from korea

15. AbhiD

Posts: 885; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

SD865 DOES NOT use Vanilla A77 cores. Qualcomm always does semi custom cores based on ARM reference designs.

19. josephnero

Posts: 795; Member since: Nov 16, 2011

It's vanilla for year. Check anandtech

20. Rostvast

Posts: 2; Member since: Sep 16, 2019

yes it is.. for the first time that is.. "This year Qualcomm has decided against requesting any microarchitectural changes to the IP, so unlike the semi-custom Kryo 485 / A76-based CPUs which had some differing aspects to the design, the new A77 in the Snapdragon 865 represents the default IP configuration that Arm offers."

21. plsnoregforcomments

Posts: 33; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

I'm not too familiar with the semicon industry, but I thought Qualcomm chose Samsung for SD865 because Samsung has a good process for 7nm, while TSMC is more focused on perfecting 5nm for Apple's A14 chip and the next generation of Qualcomm Snapdragon.

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