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Qualcomm taps Samsung to make new flagship 5G smartphone chips

Stephen Nellis
·2 min read

By Stephen Nellis

Dec 1 (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday announced a new flagship smartphone chip that will feature enhanced gaming and photo abilities and will be manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's chipmaking division.

Called the Snapdragon 888, the 5G chip represents the top of Qualcomm's lineup for mobile phone processors. Smartphones containing the chip are due to be launched in the first quarter of next year.

High-end Android phones from Xiaomi Corp and LG Electronics Inc are expected to sport the chip.

It is the first time Samsung, which competes fiercely with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), has made Qualcomm's flagship chip on its new 5-nanometer process for smartphones. The South Korean firm won a contract for 5G chips from Qualcomm earlier this year.

Apple Inc's iPhones also use a chip made with 5-nanometer technology but analysts believe the iPhone chips are made by TSMC.

This year's chip focused on improving common tasks, said Alex Katouzian, Qualcomm's senior vice president of mobile, compute and infrastructure.

The new chip can process 120 high-resolution photos per second, while a new artificial intelligence processor on the chip will let software select the best five shots and combine them into one final image.

Katouzian said the Snapdragon 888 orders will not be split between Samsung and TSMC, adding that Samsung had been the best fit for this chip in terms of design needs and timelines.

"I think it would be very bad if you had to split your resources between two different foundries" for a given chip, he said. "We do so much work with the process technology vendor that we become very, very certain about what we want to use a couple of years before the chip comes out." (Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)