Samsung in contention to manufacture Snapdragon 8 Gen 5

Snapdragon 8 series SoC

Qualcomm will launch its first 3nm flagship smartphone chipset next year. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 will be reportedly manufactured by TSMC using its second-gen 3nm process (N3E). Samsung was also in contention to manufacture the chip (a portion of the total volume) but Qualcomm decided to exclusively use TSMC’s process. While it is a massive blow to the Korean firm, there is some good news. It could get orders for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 5 in 2025.

Samsung and TSMC may split Snapdragon 8 Gen 5 production

Qualcomm periodically switches between Samsung and TSMC for manufacturing its flagship chips. It used TSMC’s process between 2013 and 2015 before switching to Samsung in 2016. Qualcomm went back to TSMC in 2019 but returned to Samsung in 2021. The Korean firm manufactured its Snapdragon 888 (5nm), Snapdragon 888+ (5nm), and Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (4nm) in 2021.

The following year, TSMC got orders for the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 and Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, which are 4nm chips. The Taiwanese firm also manufactured this year’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 (4nm). Next year, Qualcomm was rumored to split the production of Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 between its two foundry partners. However, the Taiwanese media recently reported that TSMC has walked away with the entire production volume.

Another local report has now reiterated this. Taiwanese publication Technews states that Qualcomm was impressed by TSMC’s rapidly improving 3nm production capacity and yield rate. The firm will close this year with a monthly production volume of 60,000-70,000 wafers. Next year, its capacity may exceed 100,000 wafers per month. Its yield rate is said to be around 60%.

Qualcomm reportedly found Samsung a bit lacking or conservative in both areas. Since the Korean firm hasn’t received major 3nm orders from any other company, it was a massive loss of opportunity. However, the new report says it is still in contention to get a big order from Qualcomm. Not next year, but in 2025. The American chip giant reportedly plans to dual-source the Snapdragon 8 Gen 5 from Samsung and TSMC.

A lot will depend on the yield rate and production capacity

Qualcomm chose TSMC for producing the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 because it saw a competitive edge in its yield rate and production capacity. If Samsung drastically improves its 3nm process over the next year and leapfrogs its Taiwanese rival, at least in Qualcomm’s eyes, it could win the whole manufacturing contract for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 5. But if it fails to impress Qualcomm, TSMC might still walk away with the entire order. Which firm comes out on top, time will tell.