QUALCOMM FIRST 5G CHIPS will be manufactured by Samsung, using the South Korean tech giant's 7nm fabrication process, which is a big step in extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV).
Despite concerns that Moore's Law is on the brink of death, with Intel having struggled to make significant leaps in performance with its Core i chips over the past few years, the use of EUV looks to give it a shot in the arm.
Thanks to advancements in the generation and use of EUV, the lithographic technique offers a 40 per cent hike in area efficiency, a 10 per cent rise in performance and up to a 35 per cent reduction in power consumption when compared to the technique used to make 10nm FinFET chips.
EUV lithography has enabled Samsung to create a foundry that can produce chips at the tiny 7nm scale.
Intel, by comparison, is still on a 10nm process for chips based on its upcoming Canon Lake architecture, while the firm's the current 8th-gen Coffee Lake processors use the 14nm process. The firm does have its own 7nm fabrication process called Fab 42. but it has yet to produce any chips on that scale or reveal any upcoming chipset guaranteed to use the process.
As such, Samsung is the first out of the gates with a 7nm foundry and Qualcomm's next wave of Snapdragon chips with 5G capabilities will be made using the EUV fabrication process.
In practical terms, this should result in a 5G mobile chipset having a smaller silicon footprint without sacrificing the number of transistors they pack in, which governs their processor performance.
With a smaller chipset, OEMs have the scope to use the extra space to put in new features into flagship phones and make larger battery packs or slimmer designs more standard for the next glut of smartphones.
There's no exact schedule as to when Samsung will start making Qualcomm's 5G chips. However, we'd expect it to start sooner than later, given that the company is one of Qualcomm's largest customers. µ
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