Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Uses Rival Samsung's Second Gen 14nm FinFET Process

Samsung today announced that it's begun mass producing 14nm LPP (Low-Power Plus) logic chips based on its three-dimensional (3D) FinFET process. The South Korean chip maker also confirmed that Qualcomm is among its "many foundry customers" and that it is fabricating Qualcomm's forthcoming Snapdragon 820 SoCs.

FinFET isn't new to Samsung by any means. In the first quarter of last year, Samsung launched its own Exynos 7 Octa processor built on the industry's first 14nm LPE (Low-Power Early) process. The new LPP version is the second generation of Samsung's 14nm FinFET process technology and it will serve as the backbone of not only Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820, but Samsung's own Exynos 8 Octa chips.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820

"We are pleased to start production of our industry-leading, 2nd generation 14nm FinFET process technology that delivers the highest level of performance and power efficiency," said Charlie Bae, Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing, System LSI Business, Samsung Electronics. "Samsung will continue to offer derivative processes of its advanced 14nm FinFET technology to maintain our technology leadership."

According to Samsung, its new 14nm LPP process delivers speed improvements of up to 15 percent while consuming 15 percent less power compared to the previous generation. The gains stem from improvements in transistor structure and various optimizations.

That being the case, Samsung has a choice to make, and that's whether or not to incorporate Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processors into its next generation handsets such as the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Samsung opted not to use Qualcomm's silicon inside its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge devices because of overheating concerns, but that presumably won't be an issue with the Snapdragon 820.

Whatever the answer, Samsung says Snapdragon 820 processors will find their way into devices in the first half of this year.