The latest whispers from the semiconductor industry indicate that foundry competition may be heating up in the next round. AMD has been using TSMC’s 7nm (N7) process for both its Zen 2, Zen 3, RDNA, RDNA 2, as well as the console SoCs may ditch the Taiwanese foundry for South Korea’s Samsung foundries. According to a report from DigiTimes, Samsung is slated to mass-produce its 3nm GAA-based chips in the first half of 2022, much like TSMC (the latter is sticking to FinFet instead of GAA for its 3nm nodes).
TSMC has been hiking foundry prices across the board during the chip shortages. Furthermore, being the primary foundry of most US semi companies, it has seen its supply chain strained and stretched thin. As such, specific clients are preferred over the rest for the most advanced process nodes. A good example is the preferential treatment received by Apple over the past several years. The Cupertino-based giant got exclusive access to TSMC’s 7nm, 6nm, 5nm, and soon 4nm nodes ahead of virtually every other competitor.
This has forced chipmakers like AMD and Qualcomm to look towards Samsung for greener pastures. While the Korean foundry’s 5nm node was a mess, it looks like the next-gen 3nm GAA process may be much more stable and competitive. As such, AMD might leverage it to power its Zen 5-based products (following Zen 4 which will use TSMC’s 5nm/N5 process). It’s too early to confirm anything, but by the looks of its I’d say both AMD and Qualcomm are looking to diversify their supply chains for both, better profit margins and supply.