TSMC could be about to lose two big clients who have dominated the mobile SoC space for years. According to Taiwanese media reports Apple and Qualcomm are planning to ditch TSMC and take their business elsewhere.
The tech giants are said to be looking at Samsung instead.
14nm push taking its toll
It appears that the decision was prompted by TSMC’s slow push towards 14nm. Samsung and GlobalFoundries recently inked a deal to jointly develop and build 14nm FinFET products. The first chips should tape out by the end of the year, with volume production coming in 2015.
TSMC is still struggling with its 20nm transition and we have yet to see any mainstream chips built on TSMC’s 20nm node. Apart from some bitcoin mining ASICs, there are practically no TSMC 20nm parts on the market today.
The Commercial Times reports Qualcomm has already started working with Samsung to develop the chips.
For all intents and purposes, TSMC’s 20nm node is late to the party.
What about other clients?
TSMC has been going from strength to strength for years. As the PC market cooled down and GPU shipments went off cliff, the company simple bridged the gap by fulfilling orders for 28nm ARM SoCs. Over the past couple of years TSMC saw its shipments and revenue go through the roof, but now the winning streak could be coming to an end.
However, although it might lose some tier one clients, Nvidia and AMD should keep their business at TSMC. Both companies are working on 20nm GPUs and they’re not going anywhere. AMD could shift to Globalfoundries sometime in the future, but not in this particular product cycle.
In addition, TSMC should have no trouble landing orders for 20nm ARM SoC from Qualcomm’s competitors.