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TSMC can only meet 70% of the demand for 28nm chips. First victim? The Asus Padfone

May 2, 2012
ASUS Padfone

Some of the world’s finest artwork took years of labor to complete, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see Asus taking its sweet time with its masterpiece candidate, the Asus Padfone. First teased more than a year ago, we’ve seen the Padfone finally launching in its Taiwan home country in April. Now a tweet from Asus Indonesia seems to suggest that the launch date for other regions could be in jeopardy.

Although the tweet didn’t mention specifically any launch delays, it said that Qualcomm is having problems meeting the demand for its highly sought-after Snapdragon S4 processor, which spells trouble for Asus, since it’s the same processor that powers the Asus Padfone. The Verge got in touch with an Asus spokesperson who confirmed the processor shortage that is “affecting all of Qualcomm’s customers”. Note, however, that a delay was not mentioned.

So, how bad is this S4 chip shortage? Well, bad enough to warrant public declarations from Qualcomm’s top brass. CEO Paul Jacobs declared last week that the American chip-maker is facing problems with satisfying the big demand for the 28nm process chip. The shortage will supposedly not affect Qualcomm’s top-tier clients, such as Samsung, but is likely to perturb smaller clients, like Asus.

Of course, it’s not Qualcomm that makes the chips, but the Taiwanese powerhouse TMSC. Just today, we’ve heard from Digitimes that TMSC is only able to meet about 70% of the demand for 28nm silicon. Other big names besides Qualcomm might be affected by TSMC’s stumbling – it’s 28nm client list includes Nvidia, Broadcom, TI, and AMD.

Back to the Asus Padfone – the a 4.3-inch smartphone sports a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and an 8MP camera with f/2.2 aperture. The Padfone comes with a tablet station accessory that allows it to morph into a 10.1-inch tablet, while an additional keyboard dock will further transform it into a notebook. The bundled Asus Padfone and tablet station are sold at a pricey $890 in Taiwan, while the phone itself costs $620. Asus is betting big on the convergent device and even aiming to introduce the second generation of the Padfone come September.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is still waiting for the release of the first iteration. It’s unclear whether we’ll still see Asus Padfone making it to the European market, as previously reported, in late May. One thing’s for sure — it will carry the same high price tag. The phone and tablet combo is expected to retail for €699, with the keyboard dock to come at an extra €149, for a grand total of €850 for the whole shebang.