We met with Dr. Paul Jacobs (Qualcomm CEO) last week at Uplinq, and he made it clear that the current shortage of 28nm Snapdragon chips was due to a very tight manufacturing capacity from its long-time partner TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry.
Dr. Paul Jacobs said that the company was working to solve this issue, but did not mention that Qualcomm would use Samsung as a secondary “fab”. UMC, another important player has been contacted as well according to EETimes.Qualcomm must have been working on this for a while because switching fab isn’t just a matter of sending the design files to a new place. Each fab has its own manufacturing process, and uses different libraries and design rules. The chipmaker doesn’t have to rebuild the whole logic of the chip, but still needs to work pretty hard to make sure that the final design of the chip can be manufactured in high-volumes there.
By adding two of the biggest chip manufacturing companies into the production process, Qualcomm should soon see the supply issues behind them for the remainder of the year. So far the Snapdragon and 4G LTE base bands have seen a phenomenal success because wireless carriers have chosen Qualcomm products to power their 4G LTE networks, and Qualcomm should remain unchallenged for the rest of 2012.
Next year, competitors like Samsung or NVIDIA will start offering integrated LTE solutions into their latest chips.