Samsung Electronics Clinches Another Foundry Order from Qualcomm


October 7, 2020

Samsung Electronics has clinched another foundry deal from Qualcomm Technologies Inc. to produce its mobile application processors. Last month, it won a 1 trillion won order from Qualcomm to produce its next-generation premium application processor (AP), the Snapdragon 875. This time, it won a contract to manufacture the Snapdragon 750, a 5G-capable AP for mid- to high-end smartphones.

Samsung Electronics has already started producing the Snapdragon 750, using its 8-nanometer technology. The AP is used for Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi’s Mi 10 Lite models launched in late September and is likely to be used for Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy A42 smartphone set to be introduced later this year.

Experts note that Samsung Electronics could win the latest Qualcomm order by targeting a niche market. Samsung Electronics is the only chipmaker operating an 8-nm process. The company’s 8-nm process does not use the expensive EUV lithography devices needed for a 7-nm process but can produce chips that are smaller but more power efficient than those produced with a 10-nm process.

In addition to the Snapdragon 750, Samsung produces GPUs for RTX30 graphics card of NVIDIA using the 8-nm process. “The success of the 8-nm process is an example of the power of technology and marketing,” said a foundry industry insider.

Recently, Samsung Electronics has also started to improve its packaging technology. In August, it took the wraps off 3D packaging that places logic and memory semiconductors vertically, and the X-Cube method that uses through silicon via (TSV) technology to connect upper and lower chips with electrodes. These technological breakthroughs reduce the semiconductor size but increase capacity and data transmission speeds. Although TSMC is also developing 3D packaging technology called “SoIC,” it is unlikely to commercialize it ahead of Samsung Electronics.

Another positive factor for Samsung is that TSMC is having difficulty meeting production schedules for other companies due to a large order from Apple.