Qualcomm turns to Samsung, UMC to meet Snapdragon S4 SoC demand

By Lee Kaelin on July 5, 2012, 11:30 AM

Qualcomm has enjoyed huge success with its Snapdragon S4 SoC, resulting in such high demand the San Diego-based firm recently said it would be unable to satisfy demand until 2013, forcing them to consider other options for production.

In a bid to resolve the problem, the American chipmaker has turned to Samsung and United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) to manufacture its 28nm chips, according to the latest report from the Taiwan Economic News.

Until now, Qualcomm has relied heavily on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce most of their products, but they have been unable to cope with growing demand for the chips. 

Those familiar with the contract say UMC will begin production of Qualcomm's 28nm Snapdragon S4 chips and 3G/4G baseband chips in Q4 of this year at 3,000-5,000 wafers per month, around 20-30% of TSMC's current output levels.

It's currently unknown exactly what the deal with Samsung entails but it's no surprise to see them collaborating given that the South-Korean firm relies on the Qualcomm SoC in its US versions of the Galaxy S3 smartphone, instead of its own Exynos processor used in S3 handsets destined for other countries.

Qualcomm's chairman and CEO Paul Jacobs says the 28nm shortage will continue to linger due to excessive demands and suffer with low supply levels due to the complicated technology involved. He also said the company has not yet ruled out the possibility of an in-house factory should the supply problem persist.

With Microsoft's upcoming OS, Windows 8 due to launch for the first time on both ARM-based and x86-based hardware later this year, Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 SoC's are going to be hit even harder with processor orders from tablet manufacturers.

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