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Rumor: Intel could land 10% of Apple's 'A7' chip orders

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
As Intel gets into the chip contracting business, the company could obtain as much as 10 percent of Apple's next-generation mobile chip orders, insiders believe.

"Institutional investors" cited by DigiTimes on Tuesday believe Intel could be making a play to get a slice of Apple's business for its so-called "A7" chip, expected to power the company's next-generation iPhone. Apple has reportedly been looking to move its chip production contracts away from rival Samsung, which currently handles all of the company's current A-series chips.

A6


The company expected to take the bulk of the work away from Samsung is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Rumors have claimed for years that TSMC is on the brink of building chips for Apple, but that has yet to happen.

Tuesday's report claimed that both TSMC and Samsung are competing for contracts to build "A7" chips for Apple. It said that production of A-series chips through TSMC is expected to begin in 2014.

Now, institutional investors reportedly believe that Samsung will receive about half of Apple's "A7" orders, while TSMC will take 40 percent, and Intel will grab the remaining 10 percent.

"In the past, Apple's processor orders were unattractive because of low profit margins and Samsung was the only cooperating firm," the report said. "In addition, at the time Samsung's smartphones were no threat to Apple's iPhone. But Samsung has since become the biggest smartphone vendor in the world."

Just last week, a separate report suggested that Intel and Apple were in talks for Intel to potentially build next-generation chips for devices like the iPhone and iPad. Intel may be making a shift to build ARM-based systems-on-chips for companies like Apple after the PC market has struggled in recent years against smartphones and tablets.

Intel's current CEO, Paul Otellini, plans to retire in May, and some market watchers believe a new chief executive could push the company in a different direction. In particular, contracts to build custom chips for mobile device makers could help keep the chipmaker's manufacturing facilities working at full capacity.
post #2 of 30
People still quote/rely on DigiTimes as a credible news source?
post #3 of 30
Only 10%? Then it's highly unlikely they'll be the 22nm lithography which would kill what I'd think is the primary benefit of going with Intel.


Off topic: Ever wonder how a silicon wafer is "grown" or how the exact same CPU can have performance and thermal variances? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWVywhzuHnQ
Edited by SolipsismX - 3/12/13 at 6:41am

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post #4 of 30
Intel's process is ahead of the others, it would be a shame for the iPhone if Apple and Intel could not come to some agreement.
post #5 of 30
I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

Why is it spiting their face when Intel can produce 22nm chips but Samsung can't?

post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

Samsung loves taking from those it partners with for parts. The mystery is why US companies partner with it to begin with. 

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

Because protecting IP, becoming less reliant on a single supplier, and getting a contract with the most advanced foundry owners in the world is self-destructive?

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

 

Apple doesn't need Samsung.  There are other vendors that can do what Samsung does and Apple can always go to them.  Samsung is the one that screwed up, they burned their relationship with Apple, and Apple doesn't take that lightly. 

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Intel's process is ahead of the others, it would be a shame for the iPhone if Apple and Intel could not come to some agreement.

 

On what? It sure as hell isn't in the ball park for ARM based SoC. TSMC/GF are the global leaders.

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

 

On what? It sure as hell isn't in the ball park for ARM based SoC. TSMC/GF are the global leaders.

Well the Ivy Bridge CPU in my gaming box is 22nm, I figured the iPhone could benefit from having it's ARM chip made with such a process. But based on your past posts here you are the expert in this area so if I'm wrong that an ability to produce Ivy Bridge at 22nm implies an ability to produce the A7 at 22nm please correct me.

post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

On what? It sure as hell isn't in the ball park for ARM based SoC. TSMC/GF are the global leaders.

In current ARM chip production, sure, but for large scale chip production at the 22nm process who bests Intel? I don't see why they couldn't easily make ARM chips if they so desired.

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

Apple dosen't love how Samsung blatantly copied and stole their ideas and then lies about it and calls themselves the innovators. I look forward to the day Apple no longer works with Samsung at all.
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jowie74 View Post

I love how Apple are insistant on cutting their Samsung-shaped nose off to spite their face.

 

More like how Samsung is willing to "sacrifice" Samsung Semiconductor division by losing a major customer (Apple) in order to make more money in the Samsung Mobile division by copying IP (from Apple).

 

I bet the guys over at Samsung Semi are fuming mad at Samsung Mobile for costing them billions in sales because they couldn't come up with an original idea for their phones.

post #15 of 30
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post
More like how Samsung is willing to "sacrifice" Samsung Semiconductor division by losing a major customer (Apple) in order to make more money in the Samsung Mobile division by copying IP (from Apple).

 

I bet the guys over at Samsung Semi are fuming mad at Samsung Mobile for costing them billions in sales because they couldn't come up with an original idea for their phones.

 

Civil war! Civil war!

Ah, ooh, that's probably inappropriate given the current state of the region.

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dookie Howsre View Post


Apple dosen't love how Samsung blatantly copied and stole their ideas and then lies about it and calls themselves the innovators. I look forward to the day Apple no longer works with Samsung at all.

That's right, Samsung are currently making a lot of money with what is essentially a rip off of the iPhone/iPad line. Steve Jobs thought he made a mistake not being aggressive enough patenting the Mac, allowing MS to come in, so with the iPhone he patented all he could. Now Tim is learning that the legal system doesn't protect you even if you *do* patent, so Steve did not make a mistake after all, there is simply no-one who will stand up for the innovators.

post #17 of 30

Samsung has been in the electronics component industry for so long that you almost can't produce phones in decent volume without them. Everywhere you turn, it's unavoidable that you must rely on Samsung for some of the components.

 

Intel has for years been the king in microprocessor design and manufacturing, but very new in the fab business. Tooling their process to produce ARM chips for Apple is likely the biggest order they've had to date, and both Apple and Intel want to proceed very carefully. Last year Apple sold 130M iOS devices. 10% of that is still a sizable order.

post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Off topic: Ever wonder how a silicon wafer is "grown" or how the exact same CPU can have performance and thermal variances? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWVywhzuHnQ

 

I love watching these videos! 

post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Because protecting IP, becoming less reliant on a single supplier, and getting a contract with the most advanced foundry owners in the world is self-destructive?

 

This isn't IBM. It's Intel. They've worked close with apple for years, they are a very reliable producer and they'd love to take on Samsung as much as Apple would. Seems like a good idea.

post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dookie Howsre View Post


Apple dosen't love how Samsung blatantly copied and stole their ideas and then lies about it and calls themselves the innovators. I look forward to the day Apple no longer works with Samsung at all.

 

Same here. Hopefully it happens within the next few years. 

post #21 of 30
Originally Posted by saintstryfe View Post
This isn't IBM. It's Intel. They've worked close with apple for years, they are a very reliable producer and they'd love to take on Samsung as much as Apple would. Seems like a good idea.

 

So is this the cue for Intel to make its own phones using Apple's chip designs and claim it was their idea?

post #22 of 30

It's quite a bit of work to bring up a chip of a given process. Apple trying to shift silicon production away from Samsung is likely and Apple dual sourcing is also reasonable. But, making SoC at 3 different foundries each with distinct processes? That seems excessive, expensive, and of little benefit.

post #23 of 30
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Now, institutional investors reportedly believe that Samsung will receive about half of Apple's "A7" orders, while TSMC will take 40 percent, and Intel will grab the remaining 10 percent.

 

I can imagine the phone calls that happened:

 

To Intel: "This is Tim.  I'm going to throw the old dog a bone.  You get 10% of our A7 business.  Live it up Fido."

 

To Samsung: "This is Tim.  I'm cutting your A7 order down to 50%.  And I'm cutting your A8 order down to 0%, chumps."

 

To TSMC: "This is Tim.  Congrats.  You get 40% of our A7 orders.  But Intel just might outbid you.  Don't get cocky."

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post #24 of 30
Am I the only one who thinks building the same chip on three different processes like this sounds absurd? Apple's chips are custom built, this means they have to have people layout the transistors etc. Sure the tools help with the process, but it is by no means cheap. Up until now, each chip has had a team make it for a single process technology (a shrink in the tech node means a new chip design, even if it contains the same "logical" circuitry.

Also, Samsung and TSMCs technologies are likely very similar, as they cross license much of the technology needed to manufacture chips. Intel's technology is quite a bit different, as they don't tend to license their cutting edge technology to the others. Intel's process technologies are also primarily used in-house, so it's unlikely that third party placement and routing tools are made to handle them.

The amount of time and effort required of apple's design teams to learn these new tools and use them likely isn't worth it for 10% of their chip orders... It just doesn't make sense unless Apple's making a very expensive gamble to test the waters. Each technology that apple produces a chip on adds greatly to their fixed costs. Mask sets alone cost tens of millions of dollars. Design teams easily cost more to make the new chip.

Basically the point of this is that it's not a "simple" process for apple to change manufacturers of their chips. There's a huge lead-time required to get the team ready to use new technologies, and huge costs associated with this. Unless apple's been secretly hiring hundreds of design engineers, I doubt the A chips will be produced on vastly different technologies.

Phil
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

That's right, Samsung are currently making a lot of money with what is essentially a rip off of the iPhone/iPad line. Steve Jobs thought he made a mistake not being aggressive enough patenting the Mac, allowing MS to come in, so with the iPhone he patented all he could. Now Tim is learning that the legal system doesn't protect you even if you *do* patent, so Steve did not make a mistake after all, there is simply no-one who will stand up for the innovators.

 

Great post.  Short, relevant, and highlights an extremely important aspect of what's happened in mobile over the past few years.  Perhaps THE most important aspect.

No Matte == No Sale :-(
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post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by philgar View Post


Am I the only one who thinks building the same chip on three different processes like this sounds absurd?
...
Also, Samsung and TSMCs technologies are likely very similar, as they cross license much of the technology needed to manufacture chips. Intel's technology is quite a bit different, as they don't tend to license their cutting edge technology to the others. Intel's process technologies are also primarily used in-house, so it's unlikely that third party placement and routing tools are made to handle them.

The amount of time and effort required of apple's design teams to learn these new tools and use them likely isn't worth it for 10% of their chip orders... It just doesn't make sense unless Apple's making a very expensive gamble to test the waters. Each technology that apple produces a chip on adds greatly to their fixed costs. Mask sets alone cost tens of millions of dollars. Design teams easily cost more to make the new chip.

Basically the point of this is that it's not a "simple" process for apple to change manufacturers of their chips. There's a huge lead-time required to get the team ready to use new technologies, and huge costs associated with this. Unless apple's been secretly hiring hundreds of design engineers, I doubt the A chips will be produced on vastly different technologies.

Phil

No, it's not simple.
Yes, it costs a lot.
Yes, it takes time.

On the other hand the single biggest risk is SoC supply. Apple has plenty of money so that tens of millions to mitigate supply risk is worthwhile. Also, while Apple may not have a full team spun up on intels tools they've been working with intel for a while and certainly Intel has the expertise and manpower if they desired to get it done.

Personally, I still think that if intel agrees to make A7 for Apple they're going to want a mobile design win for Atom. That might be an iPad or it might be a touch enabled 11" MBA running an iOS/OSX hybrid.

Given the number of folks with a keyboard for the full sized iPad I think that would sell well in the business market.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Only 10%? Then it's highly unlikely they'll be the 22nm lithography which would kill what I'd think is the primary benefit of going with Intel.


Off topic: Ever wonder how a silicon wafer is "grown" or how the exact same CPU can have performance and thermal variances? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWVywhzuHnQ

Cool video. Thanks for the link.

post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by nht View Post


No, it's not simple.
Yes, it costs a lot.
Yes, it takes time.

On the other hand the single biggest risk is SoC supply. Apple has plenty of money so that tens of millions to mitigate supply risk is worthwhile. Also, while Apple may not have a full team spun up on intels tools they've been working with intel for a while and certainly Intel has the expertise and manpower if they desired to get it done.

Personally, I still think that if intel agrees to make A7 for Apple they're going to want a mobile design win for Atom. That might be an iPad or it might be a touch enabled 11" MBA running an iOS/OSX hybrid.

Given the number of folks with a keyboard for the full sized iPad I think that would sell well in the business market.

 

Sorry, but it is more cost effective for Apple to buy GlobalFoundries than to invest and switch over to Intel who themselves would have to sink well over $10 billion to be on the road to ARM plant certification.

post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by philgar View Post

Am I the only one who thinks building the same chip on three different processes like this sounds absurd? Apple's chips are custom built, this means they have to have people layout the transistors etc. Sure the tools help with the process, but it is by no means cheap. Up until now, each chip has had a team make it for a single process technology (a shrink in the tech node means a new chip design, even if it contains the same "logical" circuitry.

Also, Samsung and TSMCs technologies are likely very similar, as they cross license much of the technology needed to manufacture chips. Intel's technology is quite a bit different, as they don't tend to license their cutting edge technology to the others. Intel's process technologies are also primarily used in-house, so it's unlikely that third party placement and routing tools are made to handle them.

The amount of time and effort required of apple's design teams to learn these new tools and use them likely isn't worth it for 10% of their chip orders... It just doesn't make sense unless Apple's making a very expensive gamble to test the waters. Each technology that apple produces a chip on adds greatly to their fixed costs. Mask sets alone cost tens of millions of dollars. Design teams easily cost more to make the new chip.

Basically the point of this is that it's not a "simple" process for apple to change manufacturers of their chips. There's a huge lead-time required to get the team ready to use new technologies, and huge costs associated with this. Unless apple's been secretly hiring hundreds of design engineers, I doubt the A chips will be produced on vastly different technologies.

Phil

 

Can we all get this through our heads: Global Foundries, TSMC and Samsung partnered to build a fabrication process for ARM and the same FinFET tech to compete against Intel.

 

http://semimd.com/blog/tag/14nm/

 

There are far better places to figure out what is actually going on in the industry than AI Rumors.

post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by zoffdino View Post
Last year Apple sold 130M iOS devices.

Last year Apple sold 230M iOS devices. 

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