The report references a couple of unnamed sources saying that X60 modem chips for use in 5G smartphones would be made by Samsung. However, the report adds that TSMC is also expected to make 5nm modems for Qualcomm.
It is unusual for a fabless chip company to send the same IC design to two foundries. However, using multiple foundries is a way to keep competition alive. Over many years Apple has tended to move orders between suppliers in separate generations. However, TSMC has started to win out at the 7nm generation.
It is in Qualcomm’s interest to keep both Samsung and TSMC potential suppliers and as second sources. It can modulate orders to keep prices low. And Samsung may have been very amenable to get a high-profile fabless chip company on its books for 5nm. Samsung has said it plans to send samples of its X60 modem IC to customers in 1Q20.
Samsung is planning to mass-produce 5nm chips in 2020 in an attempt to regain market share against TSMC, which has been the dominant foundry supplier at 7nm. Not resting on its laurels TSMC is also planning to start production of 5nm chips in 2020.
TSMC’s CEO has said that he expected 5nm production to make up as much as 10 percent of TSMC’s revenue in 2020.
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