SMIC noted in a press release that this isn't its first date with Qualcomm. "Previously, SMIC has supported Qualcomm on power management, wireless and connectivity related IC products at various process nodes."
With the new agreement, SMIC said it will work with Qualcomm on 28-nm design-ins and products for the growing mobile communication industry. Further, the company said, "Going forward, SMIC will also extend its technology offerings on 3DIC and RF front-end wafer manufacturing in support of Qualcomm as its Snapdragon product portfolio continues to expand."
While SMIC has been riding the wave of Chinese fabless growth, Qualcomm remains undeniably the most dominant cellphone chip supplier in China and globally.
It's been often pointed out that only a small portion of semiconductors consumed in China are actually produced in China.
In her recent blog post on EE Times, Jin Zhang, senior director of marketing and general manager for Asia Pacific at Oski Technology, pointed out China's IC consumption and production gap, including an alarmingly widening gap projected for 2015 and beyond.
In the eyes of many Chinese industry sources, that's a hot button issue.
China's integrated circuit consumption and production comparison.
(Source: "Continuing to Grow, China's Impact on the Semiconductor Industry," 2013 update, PwC)
As Zhang noted, "Most of the ICs consumed in China are provided by semiconductor giants such as Intel, Samsung, TI, Freescale, and Qualcomm. Hence, the growth of China's semiconductor industry offered tremendous opportunities and rewards for multinational companies (MNCs) in the semiconductor industry."
In that context, Qualcomm working with SMIC on 28-nm process technology and wafer manufacturing services is likely viewed as a step in the right direction for China.
— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times