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[Updated] Delay of the S4 production may affect future consumer interest

March 13, 2012

[Updated with TI’s input on the OMAP 4460]

Nobody seems to have a perfect launch in the chip industry. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they don’t. Their only consolation is that their competitors can have the same problem. We’ve been upset with Nvidia for delaying, for months at a time, both the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 chips, but the others have had and have delays, too.

The OMAP 4460 at 1.5 Ghz was supposed to come out last fall, but so far we still haven’t seen it yet, and they’re likely to just skip it and jump straight to the OMAP 4470 for most of their customers, although Archos will probably continue with their delayed plan to offer a couple of OMAP 4460 tablets. The OMAP 5 was also promised for the next fall, but we’re likely to see it first early 2013 instead. [Update] A Texas Instruments PR representative reached out to us, saying that the OMAP 4460 is shipping today in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Archos G9 tablets, SoftBank 104GH Aquous and Huawei Ascend P1/P1S devices, among others. Thank you for the correction!

This brings me to the Qualcomm S4 production delay, that comes mostly because of issues with the transition to 28nm of TSMC. Nvidia has been burned before by being an early adopter of a next-gen processing node, and this might be why they chose to not have Tegra 3 on 28nm yet, but my guess is we’ll see something like Tegra 3+ sometime this summer on 28nm or 32nm, and Tegra 4 early next year.

There’s one chip maker that has been more fortunate so far, and that’s Samsung. I don’t recall any recent issues or delays with their chips, and if everything remains on track, their Cortex A15-based Exynos 5250 might take all the thunder from the launch of the S4 if it comes out around the same time.

If it does, then from what we know so far, there should be little reason for anyone to choose an S4 device over a Cortex A15 one – unless Samsung is moving too slow with it, and Qualcomm and their partners somehow flood the market with S4 devices, which is also very possible considering Qualcomm is the market leader right now. That would offer more choices in the market, and many people might not be willing to wait until their perfect Cortex A15 device arrives.

Some of the more expected devices that should have the S4 chip, and will now be delayed are the HTC One S and the Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Asus really needs to streamline these tablet names, don’t they?). Fortunately for both HTC and Asus, they are covered with the Tegra 3 chip, so it shouldn’t have too much impact on their own sales, at least for now. It might affect them if Samsung bets big on the Cortex A15 chips, and they only have to show the Tegra 3 and and the 1.5 Ghz S4 in summer (a 2.5 Ghz dual core S4 could change things a bit. Tegra 3+ might not unless Nvidia surprises us with something new).