Intel will produce Qualcomm SoCs on the upcoming 20A nodes
The Intel - GlobalFoundries deal does not seem to be happening any time soon, yet Intel remains confident that its current efforts to expand production capacity will prove enough for its big plans to branch out through the third-party foundry service. Not only that, but Intel already found its first fab customer in Qualcomm, which appears to be very impressed with the GAAFET (RibbonFET) and PowerVia technologies on the 20A (2 nm) nodes scheduled for 2024.
Qualcomm is fabless and currently relies on production nodes from TSMC and Samsung for its mobile SoCs. However, the company recently acquired Nuvia and intends to provide advanced laptop processors that are meant to disrupt Apple and its M chips. While competition is always welcomed, Qualcomm might not be able to get decent production capacity from TSMC. Apple already signed deals to secure sizable allocations down to 2 nm for the next 4 years at the Taiwanese foundries, and Samsung is notorious for its low yields, especially on cutting edge nodes, therefore the future 3 nm nodes could turn out quite problematic.
In order to avoid such supply issues, Qualcomm is now partnering with Intel, but it is still unclear what kind of chips will be produced on the Intel 20A nodes. Given Intel’s recent track record with all the delays and shortages, it may be prudent for Qualcomm to experiment with some entry-level SoCs at first and see if IFS can deliver. Qualcomm could start to test things out on the 7 nm, 4 nm and 3 nm nodes, and, if all goes according to plan, the company may want to move its high-end products on the 20A nodes, including the Nuvia processors. A small problem here, though: Qualcomm says it wants to take on Apple and its M chips, but Intel is also producing laptop processors, and with the planned advancements beyond 2 nm, efficiency could once again be on Intel’s side, so Intel might end up producing Qualcomm’s direct competitors for its own chips.