It's always a little weird when this happens, much in the same way Samsung competes with Apple in the smartphone space, yet supplies a large number of core components for the iPhone; this time around, the firm has agreed to start manufacturing Snapdragon S4 chips for Qualcomm, despite also manufacturing its own, directly competitive, Exynos series of SoCs.
The request from Qualcomm comes amidst shortages at TSMC, where the firm's 28nm fabrication process is both in high demand and not yet up to the yields of previous processes. There has been exceptional interest in the Snapdragon series, with Samsung itself using one of the chips for its integrated LTE 4G modem in the US. We suspect Qualcomm's urgency and willingness to deal with competitors may have something to do with upcoming Windows 8 RT tablets and devices, a market where Qualcomm appears to have placed its foot firmly through the door.
To top-off matters, Qualcomm has also made a similar manufacturing deal with UMC, suggesting that the firm is expecting some serious demand, with the the company even looking to invest in its own fab in the future, a serious commitment.
What actually has us most interested, is just what this deal means for the state of Samsung's 28nm manufacturing process. The firm's latest Exynos 4 Quad has only just made the move down from 45nm to 32nm production and it was expected that the upcoming, ARM Cortex-A15-based Exynos 5 series would also be a 32nm chip, however, with the ARM design focused on making the most of 28nm production, we can easily imagine Samsung wishing to use a 28nm fab for its latest chip, which, according to Qualcomm, will be in full-swing in time for Christmas.