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Qualcomm blames TSMC for chip shortage

28nm production can't keep up
Thu Apr 19 2012, 18:16

CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm has said it is looking at 'several alternative sources' for chip fabrication after shortages plagued TSMC's 28nm process node.

Qualcomm's financial results might have been outstanding, however the firm worried many investors by saying there will be a shortage of its Snapdragon processors. Qualcomm's fab of choice, TSMC has been struggling to meet demand with its relatively new 28nm process node, leading to Qualcomm's admission that it is looking elsewhere.

Qualcomm CFO William Keitel told investors that the chip shortages were only on its 28nm process node, effectively fingering TSMC for the delay. However Qualcomm president and COO Steve Mollenkopf told analysts, "In addition to working very, very closely with TSMC, we're also bringing on several alternative sources."

Mollenkopf did spare TSMC's blushes by saying the firm was, "pleased with the way things have been looking with respect to yield" but needed more capacity. Mollenkopf was keen to stress that Qualcomm simply cannot meet demand adding, "The important part to remember is we're supply limited right now, and we're ramping supply."

Two independent industry sources told The INQUIRER that TSMC's capacity issues are due to low yields, and while TSMC wouldn't comment, the news that one of its marquee customers cannot get the number of chips it needs is not good for business.

Recently ARM has been promoting TSMC with its processor optimisation packs, however the firm might want to optimise for other fabs. We hear that Globalfoundries could be expecting a knock on the door. µ


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