Well, in the middle of that battle between TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) and Samsung we have their customers: AMD, NVIDIA, Intel, Qualcomm, Huawei, Apple, and many others. These companies are some of the biggest in the world, and TSMC works with each of them closely.
But it appears as the nodes shrink, the work between the companies and their fab partner have become more of a collaboration. TSMC works with AMD on 7nm for example, or with Apple on 2nm, and now that same work is going into Qualcomm -- except, DigiTimes said Qualcomm reportedly "sought TSMC's help" on its next-gen products including the next-gen Snapdragon 885.
The issue of getting enough chips (from TSMC) to meet demand (for customers) is getting harder and harder. Companies like Qualcomm, Apple, AMD, NVIDIA and Huawei each sell hundreds of millions of devices per year, each. That is well over a billion devices, with TSMC needing to make every single one of those chips.
This means the queues for harder-to-make chips like 5nm, 3nm, 2nm, and even talk of materials "beyond silicon" at TSMC -- are getting longer, and longer. I'm sure there is much more money needing to be fronted up by these companies to work with TSMC as well, as the equipment required to go lower and lower down into the abyss that is (soon to be beyond) silicon gets very expensive.
The report adds that Samsung recently announced it is mass producing 5nm chips by the end of 2020, but the "semiconductor industry believes that the current Samsung 5nm yield rate is still unknown". The report continues, adding that "Qualcomm has sought TSMC's help, and the next-generation Snapdragon 885 has also returned to TSMC. With greater investment in advanced processes and more difficult acquisition of technology and talent, if Samsung can no longer have a large pocket outside of its own, the foundry business will not only be difficult to beat TSMC by 2030, but also have problems in improving profitability".
An interesting comment there -- that Qualcomm is asking for help from TSMC, and vica versa -- on its next-gen Snapdragon 885 processor. This chip should be unveiled later this year, and be baked into phones in 2021 and beyond.
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