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Qualcomm could stick with a trusted partner for Snapdragon 8 Gen 4

TSMC-made Snapdragon chips have recently had the upper-hand over Samsung-made SoCs.
By
December 1, 2023
A slide confirming that Qualcomm's mobile platform will get the Oryon CPU in 2024.
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Qualcomm has reportedly decided against a dual-sourcing strategy for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4.
  • It was initially believed that both TSMC and Samsung would manufacture the mobile chipset.
  • TSMC will apparently be the sole manufacturer of the processor.

Qualcomm just launched the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, expected to power a variety of high-end Android phones in 2024. The company also confirmed the first Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 details, and it seems like another significant leak has surfaced.

A rumor back in May 2023 pointed to Qualcomm adopting a dual-sourcing strategy for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4, apparently tasking both TSMC and Samsung with producing the chip. Now, Taiwanese outlet Tech News reports that Qualcomm has decided against using Samsung, instead relying solely on TSMC to produce the next-generation smartphone chipset.

It’s believed that Qualcomm decided against Samsung due to “unstable yields” and a “conservative” expansion strategy. In other words, the report suggests the Snapdragon chip designer wasn’t convinced Samsung could provide the combination of volume, cost, and performance it wanted.

Is this a good thing?

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 4 is tipped to be manufactured on a 3nm process, but it’s too early to definitively tell whether TSMC’s 3nm manufacturing process is superior to Samsung’s. Nevertheless, TSMC has had the upper hand over Samsung in the last year or two.

Nowhere was TSMC’s superiority more apparent than with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 versus Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1. The vanilla Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 was manufactured on a 4nm Samsung process and saw throttling issues, while the TSMC-made Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 delivered much better performance and significantly improved efficiency.

Either way, a lot is riding on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 4. Qualcomm revealed that this chipset will be the first to be powered by custom Oryon CPU cores. So the company can’t afford for the chip’s performance to be compromised by a problematic manufacturing process.

Tech News reports that Qualcomm has postponed this dual-sourcing strategy to 2025, presumably targeting the Snapdragon 8 Gen 5 processor. So we might still see both Samsung and TSMC manufacturing Qualcomm’s flagship smartphone silicon.