Intel went FinFET (or tri-gate transistors as they call them) at 22nm with Ivy Bridge, and now the #1 foundry, TSMC, and the #2 foundry, UMC, will also go to FinFET for the next gen 20 nm process. However, mass production of 20nm ARM chips will probably not happen until 2014, considering 28nm is barely here in 2012, and it usually takes 2 years for the new process technology to be ready.
Apparently, the planar FinFET technology that these foundries intend to use is better suited for mobile SoC’s, like the ones from ARM, and it should bring a performance improvement of at least 15%-20% over Intel’s own FinFET [...]
TSMC is the largest foundry in the world, and it’s usually the main company that Nvidia, Qualcomm and others turn to when they want their chips manufactured. As an IP vendor, ARM has to work close with TSMC, much earlier than their IP clients, so they can prepare everything for the transition to the new chip architectures and the new process technologies.
While we’re currently only on 28nm/32 nm, ARM has been working with TSMC and others for the next-gen 20nm/22nm process, and also for the 14nm/15nm process, which are still many years away. As chip makers create smaller and smaller processes, it becomes ever harder to shrink the chips, while maintaining or [...]
By now, we all know that Qualcomm has trouble satisfying the high demand for its S4 processors, which come integrated with LTE. The Snapdragon S4 is the only chip with this feature, so most manufacturers that want to launch their phones in the USA right now have no choice but to go with Qualcomm. That includes even Samsung and their Galaxy S3 phone, although Samsung makes its own chips usually.
Qualcomm doesn’t want to leave so much money on the table, knowing that the longer the chip demand is higher than the supply, the more (potential) revenue they stand to lose. We’ve heard persistent rumors that Qualcomm is looking to diversify its manufacturing [...]
According to the Chinese Commercial Times (quoted by Digitimes), Qualcomm has struck a deal with Taiwan’s United Microelectronics for manufacturing 28nm Snapdragon S4 systems on a chip (SOC). If the paper is to be believed, UMC will start volume production during Q4 2012, and is expected to manufacture 3000-5000 wafers for Qualcomm during the quarter.
This news comes of no surprise, as it’s well known that the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is currently struggling to keep up with Qualcomm’s demand, a situation that has forced both Qualcomm (as well as Android device manufacturers) to swap the S4 chip found inside some Android devices with the older S3 SoC, [...]
Qualcomm is the biggest chip supplier right now in the Android smartphone market, in part because its Snapdragon CPU became very popular thanks to the Nexus One and HTC’s phones back in 2010, and thanks to the fact that they are the biggest supplier for low-end smartphones as well. Add to that the fact that S4 supply can’t even satisfy demand this year, and you’ll realize that Qualcomm is in a pretty nice spot in the chip-making business right now.
Even though the S4 shortage is a nice problem to have because of the overwhelming demand, Qualcomm may consider making chips in the future in its own wafer fab because its [...]
The Snapdragon S4 processor was made at 28nm, and since 28nm is a brand new process for Global Foundries (Qualcomm’s main foundry) and also for TSMC, which means that some unexpected issues may appear, or their planned production is much smaller than anticipated. This has already led to phones that were supposed to have the S4 processor, like the One S, to only get an S3 processor (although clocked at 1.7 Ghz) in certain Asian markets.
Qualcomm may have put the S4 processor on a high-priority list for certain phones models, like the One X and the US version of the Galaxy S3, since they can’t give everyone the S4 chip, even if they are asking for it. The S4 [...]