Qualcomm Snubs Longtime Partner TSMC, Woos Rival Samsung For 14nm Snapdragon 820 Production

Watching the tech industry can be a lot like watching a soap opera. There's plenty of drama mixed with plot twists and scorned relationships. These things are playing out right now as Qualcomm breaks up with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and cozies up with Samsung as a chip building partner for its forthcoming Snapdragon 820 System-on-Chip (SoC).

This is an interesting development for a number of reasons. Bear in mind that Samsung just recently snubbed Qualcomm by deciding against using the company's Snapdragon 810 SoC in its Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge handsets due to supposed overheating issues (Qualcomm denied there was an issue), opting instead to use its own Exynos chip.


In the past, Qualcomm has leaned heavily on TSMC. However, the company is drawn to Samsung this time around because it's using a more efficient and advanced 14-nanometer manufacturing process, whereas TSMC is building chips using a 20nm manufacturing process. Smaller chips like the ones Samsung is making should be less expensive to produce and offer certain performance advantages, such as better battery life.

Another potential reason why Qualcomm is going with Samsung is to show there's no ill will over the recent snub. And if Samsung's building chips for Qualcomm, it has a better shot of convincing Samsung to use its Snapdragon processors in upcoming Galaxy devices. This is especially true since Qualcomm's design integrates an LTE modem, whereas Samsung's own Exynos chip does not -- an LTE modem has to be added, which increases the overall cost.

This is a big win for Samsung, which also recently scored a contract from Apple to build custom A9 parts for its mobile devices.
Tags:  Samsung, Qualcomm