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Daily Authority: 📉 Samsung yields

Samsung Foundry issues run deep, plus how 1,000 strangers reacted to being offered a portrait photo.

Published onApril 19, 2022

🧺 Good morning! It’s National Hanging Out Day, which I thought was exciting, but actually about using a clothesline for drying laundry. Which is good and just!

Samsung Foundry problems

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 logo
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

I would say one of the hardest things in the world to do is to make next-generation semiconductors. The idea of stacking many billions of transistors into a microchip the size of a stamp to crunch numbers, along with all the layers of software that make it possible, is pretty awesome.

  • That said, it’s a well-established field now, with many foundries around the world, including the recently famous TSMC, along with Intel, Global Foundries, and more — and of course, Samsung Foundry.
  • As part of Samsung Electronics, Samsung has long been the world’s biggest memory chip manufacturer and one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies, on the bleeding-edge along with TSMC and Intel.
  • But Samsung Foundry has had problems for some time with yields. One of the chip shortage issues still ongoing is related to just how poor Samsung’s yields have been on its advanced chips.
  • One of those is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Reports out of Korea suggest a deeply frightening yield of just 35% with its 4nm node.
  • TSMC is reportedly at 70%, a stunning difference.
  • There are whispers that some Foundry executives “fabricated” reports to hide these poor yields to avoid trouble, and accordingly, funds set aside to improve these yields weren’t used.

It’s not getting any better:

  • Samsung’s reported problems with its 4nm node are one thing, but it has been investing in its next 3nm node for the next-generation of semiconductor chips.
  • But the yield problems continue, and Samsung’s reputation isn’t exactly improving, if the reports are even remotely accurate.
  • Here’s the latest as written by my colleague Matt Milano following a report from Korean-language publication
  • It gets a bit technical, talking about the new transistor process being established by leading foundries, but stay with it:
“Samsung Foundries is dealing with sub-par yields. It’s believed the initial runs of Samsung’s 3nm chips will be used for its own Exynos line of semiconductors, most likely the successor to the Exynos 2200. Given Samsung’s desire to use its own chips [in its Galaxy smartphones] and reduce reliance on Qualcomm, if the reports are true, it could lead to supply constraints for its flagship devices.
“In addition to moving from 4nm to 3nm, Samsung is also the first to use GAAFET (Gate all around FET), rather than the established FINFET (Fin FET) design.
“It’s entirely possible that the move to GAAFET has helped contribute to Samsung’s problems since the new design requires a different approach. Intel tried using GAAFET with its 7nm processors before postponing the move due to similar issues to those Samsung is reportedly facing.
“Interestingly, TSMC has decided not to adopt GAAFET for its 3nm semiconductors, waiting until it moves to 2nm to implement the new transistor design.”

In short:

  • Speculation is rife that Apple’s large share of TSMC’s advanced processes more or less forced Qualcomm to use Samsung for its current flagship chip, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, which has been less than spectacular in terms of its efficiency, sustained performance, and issues with heating.
  • Now rumors of problems with 3nm production at Samsung don’t sound great either.
  • The next step is Qualcomm’s chips that will reportedly emerge from TSMC: the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chip, but made by TSMC, and likely called the 8 Gen 1 Plus.
  • The world of Android enthusiasts is very much waiting to see how the TSMC-fabricated 8 Gen 1 Plus compares to the Samsung-fabbed 8 Gen 1.


📸 It looks like the Google Pixel 6a will be missing a camera feature, but if it’s the only missing feature, it’s all going to be okay (Android Authority).

👍 The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Pokemon Edition is a thing and coming soon. Oh boy. (Android Authority).

💳 Remember Google Wallet? Looks like it’s making a comeback (Android Authority).

🐭 Logitech Lift hands-on: A vertical mouse for the rest of us, in both right and left-hand editions (Engadget).

🎮 Panic Playdate reviews are out and every reviewer loves it: The main negatives are how hard it is to get one, and no backlight for playing in the dark, but: “It’s fun! There’s a crank! It’s yellow! Creative list of games!” isn’t a bad way to quickly understand why this thing is good (Wired).

🍎 NYC Apple Store employees at the Grand Central store are attempting to unionize, in a first. One demand is for a $30/hour minimum wage, and “including higher match rates for 401(k) and enrollment into pension plans.” (9to5Mac).

🛰 Kamala Harris announced the US will no longer conduct anti-satellite tests, basically to stop space junk problems, though other motives might be at play! (The Verge).

📸 Russia’s military is on full display in Google Maps satellite view, though Google says nothing much changed, just that everyone noticed at once (Ars Technica).

👉 “Today I learned that the FBI has an 83-page guide to internet speak” though it seems weirdly out of touch: BTDTGTTSAWIO is not a thing (The Verge).

💡 Wow: Smart home company Insteon looks dead — just like its users’ smart homes. “The app and servers are dead. The CEO scrubbed his LinkedIn page. No one is responding.” (Ars Technica).

🚗 Welp: Dodge Viper wipes out in a street race with Acura Integra. As noted: “Nation’s stockpile of Vipers continues its startling downward trend” (Jalopnik).

Chart Tuesday

Something different: This person asked 1,000 people to take their picture on the street, for free. (Actually, they asked 1,104 people, because 104 people said no.)

Here’s what happened:

photographer street
  • Most pictures were taken in Miami, in touristy spots where people are dressed up, and it’s believable for a few reasons: the guy is a great portrait photographer, and he livestreamed it as well.


Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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