LG Electronics is trying to move away from Qualcomm, which the company solely relied on for existing mobile application processors (AP), and is now developing its new mobile AP in cooperation with Intel and TSMC. The company seeks to reduce its dependency on Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, which will be manufactured at Samsung's chip-making foundries, and develop its own chip from next year.
According to industry sources on Nov. 26, LG Electronics is currently moving to pilot production of ARM-based 64-bit mobile AP called the Nuclun 2 by using Intel's 14-nanometer FinFET technology and TSMC’s 16-nm FinFET technology. The Nuclun 2 will be an octa-core processor with four ARM’s Cortex A72 at 2.1 GHz and four Cortex A53 cores running at 1.5GHz.
With three years of research and development, LG Electronics introduced the Nuclun 1, which was produced with 28-nm FinFET technology, last year and used it on its G3 Screen smartphone. However, its performance fell short of the Samsung Exynos 5420, which was mass produced a year earlier. Even after that, LG Electronics has not abandoned its mobile AP development plan and is now about to complete the development of Nuclun 2, which can be used in its premium smartphones.
The company has been making every effort to develop its own AP due to the fact that LG Group has a strong will not to use semiconductors manufactured by Samsung. An industry official said, “LG has been solely dependent on Qualcomm’s APs to produce its smartphones. So, it is not a coincidence that LG has decided to move away from Qualcomm when its next-generation chipset will be now produced at Samsung's chip-making foundries.”
It is also meaningful in that Intel and TSMC, which are testing the mobile AP with LG Electronics, are two companies competing with Samsung Electronics in the mobile chip market. As a strong partner of Samsung Electronics, Intel supplied its high performance modem chip from the Galaxy S5 lines last year. However, the cooperation has become weak as Samsung Electronics is increasingly using its self-developed modem chip. Also, TSMC has been competing with Samsung for years for foundries to produce Apple’s AP.
It is still unclear which company LG Electronics will finally choose as the producer for the first batch. Some say that the Nuclun 2 produced with Intel’s 14-nm process shows higher performance. Others say that TSMC has a better foundry expertise in AMR-based chipsets compared to Intel so it will stabilize the production in a shorter time.