Samsung is taking risks with Qualcomm and its GAA 3nm process, which has failed to improve on 4nm performance rates. MediaTek is showing off the world’s first 4nm SoC, the Dimensity 9000, which is manufactured by TSMC, while Samsung has to do with another product.
I remember well the wonderful years when Qualcomm Snapdragon was unstoppable and MediaTek had a pretty nasty nickname (M****Tek). Times are changing, and now it’s MediaTek bringing LPDDR5X memory, the first 4nm chip in the smartphone world, etc. Qualcomm’s partner is Samsung, whose 3nm GAA process is failing, according to a Korean report.
Samsung falls short with its 3 nm GAA process
It’s already a challenge for Samsung to mass-produce 4nm chips, so 3nm wafers seem to have performance issues. DigiTimes, a Korean media outlet, has uncovered a report from Business Posts detailing Samsung’s progress with 3nm GAA technology. The performance rates range from 10 to 20 percent, with the best results achieved with the 4nm node for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 (35 percent).
The 4nm node is light years ahead of TSMC (75 percent), so Qualcomm is pretty pissed and that was the reason for the transfer of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 and Gen 1 Plus orders to TSMC. It looks like the 3nm node will be ready by 2023, and the condition for Qualcomm to stay with Samsung is in the performance rate.
Therefore, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 price is at stake: it will have no choice but to go with TSMC if Samsung doesn’t improve. The sources used to suggest that Samsung is testing its GAA 3nm internally rather than selling it to third parties: Exynos would be the guinea pig.
TSMC doesn’t have any problems? Either they’re denser, or they’re way ahead of the Koreans because the quality of their big competitor’s chips is apparently up to snuff. One of the most reliable proofs is Apple: the company doesn’t change its semiconductor manufacturer and continues to bet everything on TSMC.
On the other hand, MediaTek is beating Qualcomm with its Dimensity 9000, the first 4nm SoC for Android smartphones, which is currently the fastest. Coincidentally, this 4nm SoC is manufactured by TSMC, which gives it a performance boost and higher power efficiency.