Samsung wins bespoke chip orders from Google and Cisco

Samsung has reportedly landed orders from Google to make at least two types of bespoke chips, including a new body motion tracker.

Google has ordered multiple chips from Samsung, although they may not be for existing device categories. The industry sources said that one of the devices would be a body motion sensor while another is an “unprecedented” application processor, which could be used in a range of devices.

The motion sensor could be embedded into a long-rumoured Google smart watch, which would make use of Google’s Watch OS. Google is in the process of acquiring wearable tech company Fitbit, but it faces a challenge from regulators over allegations of anti-competitive behaviour, with the European Commission this week promising a full-scale investigation into the proposed $2.1bn takeover.

With uncertainty hanging over Google’s Fitbit acquisition and no rumours of a Google smart watch in the near future, it is unlikely that such a device would be launched until 2021 at the earliest.

While foundries normally fulfil orders for chips which have already been designed, Samsung is reported to be designing the chips from scratch as well as manufacturing them. This could allow Google to compete more fiercely with rival smartphone manufacturers – such as Apple and Huawei – which have the capacity to design and manufacture their own specialised chips. A time frame is not known for the designs.

Samsung had received a Cisco Systems contract this year to design and manufacture chips for use in Cisco’s next-gen telecommunications network.

“Samsung Electronics obtained an order from Cisco earlier this year regarding development of [a] chip related to a next-generation telecommunications network,” an anonymous industry.

In 2018, Samsung Electronics surpassed chipmaking giant Intel to become the world’s largest semiconductor company by revenue. It is also the world’s second largest foundry, trailing behind Taiwan’s TSMC. TMSC – which established the foundry model – wields more than 50 per cent of the market share, compared with around 20 per cent for Samsung.


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