LONDON – Mobile processor supplier Qualcomm Inc. has signed up foundry United Microelectronics Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. as suppliers of 28-nm chips, according to a Taiwan Economic News report.
The move will help Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) cope with tight supply situation at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan), Qualcomm's main foundry.
UMC (Hsinchu, Taiwan) is expected to start supplying Snapdragon S4 processors and 3G/4G baseband chips made using 28-nm process in the fourth quarter of 2012, the report said.
UMC will supply between 3,000 and 5,000 wafers per month, between 20 33 percent of the monthly volume supplied by TSMC, the report said. The chips have already been taped out in a UMC 28-nm CMOS process and passed verification.
No detail was provided about the supply deal with Samsung.
Last week UMC announced that it has licensed 20-nm CMOS process including FinFETs from IBM Corp. And this capability will enhance UMC's manufacturing process roadmap potentially making it more attractive to established and potential customers.
Also last week Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm Inc., reportedly said he has not ruled out owning a wafer fab or putting large amounts of cash down to ensure the firm's supply of semiconductor chips. That was according to a Bloomberg report.
Jacobs also reportedly said that he expected Qualcomm would be meeting customers' volume requirements by the end of 2012, although it is not clear whether he was already factoring in additional foundry deals.
This is very good news for UMC. UMC had a very bad 1st quarter because its first-Quarter Net Profit was Down 70%. After looking at the recent developments that have taken place looks like UMC is on storng recovey path.
I might agree that it is primarily a signal to TSMC but only time will tell. It must be difficult for Qualcomm to be wafer constrained given the overall economy and the loss of shipment opportunity. Perhaps, TSMC will get the message and provide an increase in wafers to placate Qualcomm. I still think that it makes sense to ensure alternate sources both as a way to keep suppliers interested and as a hedge against natural disasters.
In theory, that is what you want but in reality, this scenario seldom happens. You get what you paid for especially in advanced nodes, TSMC is only foundry who has alomost everything what you need. Others you have to know how to play/work together. Otherwise you will be very disappointed.