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Apple reportedly taps Samsung to build A9 SoCs for 2015 iPhones, iPads

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
A report from the Far East on Sunday claims Apple will go back to smartphone rival Samsung for production of its next-generation iOS device processors, with ramp-up and deployment scheduled for 2015.

Teardown A6
Teardown of iPhone 5 reveals Apple's A6 SoC. | Source: iFixit


Citing industry sources, The Korea Economic Daily reports that Apple will once again look to Samsung for its chipmaking needs in 2015, when the Korean company will use its 14 nanometer process to produce the Apple-designed "A9" system on a chip (SoC). The silicon will power Apple's "iPhone 7," the publication said.
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Sunday's rumor contradicts somewhat a Wall Street Journal report that claimed Apple had signed a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to produce its next-generation A-series chips that will power future iOS devices. The TSMC-built SoCs, to be called A7 and A8 if Apple continues its current naming scheme, will be based on a 20nm process and are set for mass fabrication sometime in 2014.

Discussions of an Apple partnership with TSMC date back to 2010, though a number of technical and financial hang ups blocked a deal from happening. fsfdsff
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Technology once again seems to be a limiting factor for TSMC, as Samsung allegedly won back the 2015 contract with its 14nm FinFET, or mutli-gate, chip architecture. It is unknown why Apple supposedly opted to go with Samsung, as TSMC is also said to be applying a 20nm FinFET process for the next-gen A7 chips, though yield rates and scalability could be factors in the decision. It is also possible that Apple has signed contracts with both companies for a more diversified supply chain, much like its dealings with partner manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron.

Apple is seen to be actively distancing itself from Samsung as the battle for worldwide smartphone dominance rages. Cupertino has been reliant on the Korean firm as a parts supplier for a number of years, sourcing displays, components, and using the company's foundries for chip fabrication since 2007. Relations soured, however, after Samsung released a lineup of devices very similar to Apple's iPhone and iPad in 2010.

The two tech giants are now embroiled in a worldwide patent dispute that in 2012 saw a California jury level a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung after it found the Galaxy maker to be in infringement of Apple's patents. That case, along with numerous others, are still in appeals and regulatory courts around the globe.
post #2 of 39
I don't believe this sensational report one bit.

There's more evidence Apple plans to produce their own chips, than there is for this.
post #3 of 39
The Korea Economic Daily reports that?!! LOL 1wink.gif

....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

Tim Cook ~ The Wall Street Journal - February 7, 2014

Inside Google! 

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....the lack of properly optimized apps is one of the reasons "why the experience on Android tablets is so crappy".

Tim Cook ~ The Wall Street Journal - February 7, 2014

Inside Google! 

Reply
post #4 of 39

2015 iPhone and iPad? Screw next year's model speculation, let's jump to 2015 instead!

post #5 of 39
A9 in 2015!?!? Are they going right to A7 in September? No 6X I guess. A7 with iOS 7 1smile.gif
post #6 of 39

I'd expect Samsung to come out with something like this even if it wasn't true.

post #7 of 39
There is no way Apple would go back to a rival who is trying to destroy them, who stole their designs, and who mocks them publicly.

Only a fool would do that and apple is the smartest and best technology company around.
post #8 of 39
Ha..Ha..Ha..don't let the hit you in the ass...Samsung!
post #9 of 39
I think apple does not have enough time left for other company to produce A7 so Samsung is still choice, yet they already have A8 in line for great start.
post #10 of 39

Apple will use Samsung for CPU/GPU chips if it's to Apple advantage. No way will Apple jeopardize production output to spite a potential supplier. 

 

On a side note, I can remember when 1000nm was considered about as small as they could go; then it was all about 100nm being the absolute limit. And now production is nearing 10nm. I'm just astounded by the progress in shrinking integrated circuits. 

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

I don't believe this sensational report one bit.

There's more evidence Apple plans to produce their own chips, than there is for this.

 

Yeah, it sounds kind of preposterous on the face of it.  

 

Going to Samsung, to produce a chip that's two generations ahead of the current chip, on a process that's two steps smaller than anyone uses at the moment?  Sounds really weird to me. 

post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Apple will use Samsung for CPU/GPU chips if it's to Apple advantage. No way will Apple jeopardize production output to spite a potential supplier. 

 

On a side note, I can remember when 1000nm was considered about as small as they could go; then it was all about 100nm being the absolute limit. And now production is nearing 10nm. I'm just astounded by the progress in shrinking integrated circuits. 

 

 

The younger crowd takes all this stuff for granted and don't realize how fortunate they are to have this sort of technology.  I grew up in a time when 6 transistor portable radios were cutting edge and thought that was amazing because I had started out building crystal radios, then moving on to tube radios.  I can still appreciate those days, but these tech-heads nowadays think that last years' devices are practically ancient.  It's like they're always pushing forward and never taking the time to breathe.  However, consumers are not tech-heads.  For most consumers, two or three year old technology is still good enough.  It's hard for me to imagine 10nm tech and a theoretical ten billion transistors on a single silicon chip.  The numbers are staggering.  The first transistor was built at Bell Labs when I was born so it's only 65 years to get to this point which is a relatively short amount of time of human history.  I wonder if a really strong gamma burst from a solar flare could put us back to square one.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Yeah, it sounds kind of preposterous on the face of it.  

 

Going to Samsung, to produce a chip that's two generations ahead of the current chip, on a process that's two steps smaller than anyone uses at the moment?  Sounds really weird to me. 

 

Doesn't sound weird to me. NVidia and AMD got burned several times by bad yields on TSMC processes. Semiconductors require long lead times. The first processes at the 14nm node according to the ITRS is slated for sometime in 2014, which means it'll be ready for actual shipping products sometime in 2015. It takes 1-2 years to get to tape-out/first silicon, so if Apple is targeting the 14nm node for 2015, it needs to start designing for it now.

 

Then it simply depends on which companies will have all of the tools, libraries, and fabs ready to go by 2015. If Apple doesn't trust TSMC and trusts Samsung more to deliver, they will go with Samsung.

 

In reality, they will probably hedge their bets up to a certain "point of no return" where they have to design to go with a certain fab.

 

Apple could just decide to go with a larger node, like 22nm, but since battery life, performance per watt, die size, heat, weight, etc are so critically tied to semiconductor node, Apple would be sacrifice lots of design advantages and cede leadership to their competitors. We're not talking "specs" as in Ghz, we're talking "how it works" designy stuff, like a device that is hotter, heavier, thicker, than competitors on a smaller node.

 

The idea of Apple building their own fab in this time frame is ludicrous. They don't have any expertise building fabs, and even if they did, it takes even Intel or TSMC years to build them.

post #14 of 39
If this mess of jumping between two supliers is true, suddenly the idea of "Apple chip fab" is much nicer than this.
post #15 of 39
This is a reminder that our world is changing, that proprietary technologies and product differentiation will become even more of a challenge. Microsoft vs. Apple, Intel vs. IBM PowerPC, iOS vs. Android. As good as Apple is, in their company history they have remade only 4 products as Steve Jobs said so eloquently in one of his keynotes. 1984 the Mac changed computers forever. 2001 the iPod changed how we listen to music forever. 2007 the iPhone changed how we communicate forever. I can't help but feel that we will have to wait a long while until the next "one more thing" changes our world. Forever.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Disturbia View Post

The Korea Economic Daily reports that?!! LOL 1wink.gif

 

Yes, because I'm sure all of Korea's news organizations constitute one giant monolith with no variation in opinions, facts, or conclusions. Just like every single news organization in America is similarly homogeneous. 

 

 

Wonder what they're teaching kids in school these days. 

post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by roccodelgreco View Post

This is a reminder that our world is changing, that proprietary technologies and product differentiation will become even more of a challenge. Microsoft vs. Apple, Intel vs. IBM PowerPC, iOS vs. Android. As good as Apple is, in their company history they have remade only 4 products as Steve Jobs said so eloquently in one of his keynotes. 1984 the Mac changed computers forever. 2001 the iPod changed how we listen to music forever. 2007 the iPhone changed how we communicate forever. I can't help but feel that we will have to wait a long while until the next "one more thing" changes our world. Forever.

 

 

Product disruptions come and go. We've come a long way in the past 10 years. Technological advances are exponential, not linear. 

post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timbit View Post

A9 in 2015!?!? Are they going right to A7 in September? No 6X I guess. A7 with iOS 7 1smile.gif

The A6X is already in use on the 4th generation iPad since last year as was the A5X for the 3rd generation. They're never used for iPhones as they're quite a bit more power hungry than their non-X counterparts.

post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjc999 View Post

 

Doesn't sound weird to me. NVidia and AMD got burned several times by bad yields on TSMC processes. Semiconductors require long lead times. The first processes at the 14nm node according to the ITRS is slated for sometime in 2014, which means it'll be ready for actual shipping products sometime in 2015. It takes 1-2 years to get to tape-out/first silicon, so if Apple is targeting the 14nm node for 2015, it needs to start designing for it now.

 

Then it simply depends on which companies will have all of the tools, libraries, and fabs ready to go by 2015. If Apple doesn't trust TSMC and trusts Samsung more to deliver, they will go with Samsung.

 

In reality, they will probably hedge their bets up to a certain "point of no return" where they have to design to go with a certain fab.

 

Apple could just decide to go with a larger node, like 22nm, but since battery life, performance per watt, die size, heat, weight, etc are so critically tied to semiconductor node, Apple would be sacrifice lots of design advantages and cede leadership to their competitors. We're not talking "specs" as in Ghz, we're talking "how it works" designy stuff, like a device that is hotter, heavier, thicker, than competitors on a smaller node.

 

The idea of Apple building their own fab in this time frame is ludicrous. They don't have any expertise building fabs, and even if they did, it takes even Intel or TSMC years to build them.

 

 

I don't think this has been stressed enough. Everyone here seems to be sticking to this fantasy that Apple can never fail in any venture it focuses on, even if it's an unrealistic one. Fabbing expertise isn't gained overnight. The fact that they've signed a contract that goes into 2015 and beyond signals it's probably not likely Apple is going into in-house fabbing anytime soon. And by anytime soon, I mean not for another 5 years, perhaps even more. 

 

A lot can happen in that time frame. It's best to keep our feet planted on the ground and our head out of the clouds.

post #20 of 39

WSJ rumors tend to be pretty reliable, so I don't think the original TSMC rumor was wrong. They probably signed contracts with both, i.e. all the TSMC action hasn't been about escaping Samsung entirely but just creating some competition.

post #21 of 39
Maybe samsung needs apple more than apple needs samsung - could lead to special development for apple. And they do produce great chips and screens.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Doesn't sound weird to me. NVidia and AMD got burned several times by bad yields on TSMC processes

The world, Media, and even Nvidia and AMD like the world to think it was all TSMC's fault. In reality it was not their fault.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

I don't believe this sensational report one bit.

There's more evidence Apple plans to produce their own chips, than there is for this.

 

It makes total sense.  Samsung is well known for their leading fab tech and quality.  Those are features that Apple likes to include in their devices.

 

As for Apple's plans, every experienced fab poster so far has said that it's unlikely that Apple plans to produce their own chips in a factory they will own and run themselves.

 

It's far more likely (and in Apple's history) that they're heavily investing in someone else making the chips.

post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by virtua View Post

Maybe samsung needs apple more than apple needs samsung - could lead to special development for apple. And they do produce great chips and screens.


I would say you have it backwards, Apple needs Samsung more than vice versa.  Samsung is a vertically integrated company.  If they need a display, they can make it.  If they need a processor, they can make it.  If they need a mobile OS, they can make it.  Samsung can make almost everything that comprises a leading edge mobile phone, in-house.

 

It certainly helps Samsung's bottom line to have Apple as a customer as it contributes to economies of scale in their manufacturing activities, but their survival is not dependent on Apple's business.  As AI delights in pointing out, Apple have seemingly been distancing themselves from Samsung as a supplier, yet Samsung electronics' has been showing spectacular financial performance, with revenues and profits soaring, even as presumably, Apple's business with them declines.

post #25 of 39
I think its because Apple has lost its most recents lawsuits so now they are bitterly returning back, hoping to find a new case to file against Samsung.
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by cnocbui View Post


I would say you have it backwards, Apple needs Samsung more than vice versa.  Samsung is a vertically integrated company.  If they need a display, they can make it.  If they need a processor, they can make it.  If they need a mobile OS, they can make it.  Samsung can make almost everything that comprises a leading edge mobile phone, in-house.

 

It certainly helps Samsung's bottom line to have Apple as a customer as it contributes to economies of scale in their manufacturing activities, but their survival is not dependent on Apple's business.  As AI delights in pointing out, Apple have seemingly been distancing themselves from Samsung as a supplier, yet Samsung electronics' has been showing spectacular financial performance, with revenues and profits soaring, even as presumably, Apple's business with them declines.

 

Being vertically integrated company may not always be a good thing. AT the moment this seems like a Samsung's advantage, but only one false technological decision may trash it like a house of cards. It also cuts the competitive edge in a long turn.

I also don't believe for a second Apple is investing anything in any chip fab company. This would be a worst choice: on one hand they make themselves as commodity to such supplier and on the other hand they still don't control whole process ant take whole profits.

 

Apple has simply chosen to get the best price by prepaying for silicon and they are also spreading supplier count, so they can be less dependent on sole and make them more competitive. 

 

However, they won't select any new supplier in the future that makes end products. I'm sure 110% Samsung has learned from their specs.

post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by felisberto View Post

I think its because Apple has lost its most recents lawsuits so now they are bitterly returning back, hoping to find a new case to file against Samsung.

 

we needed a laugh today as any, but make a real joke, a moron can't laugh to this one.

post #28 of 39
Apple and Samsung seem to be like a quarrelling couple that keep on breaking up and getting back together again all the time - if there is any truth to this rumour.
post #29 of 39
This could be part of some yet to be announced settlement in the Apple vs. Samsung case. Maybe Apple will get the chips for a song.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Timbit View Post

A9 in 2015!?!? Are they going right to A7 in September? No 6X I guess. A7 with iOS 7 1smile.gif

Uh... 6X has been in use for months now.
Quote:
Originally Posted by felisberto View Post

I think its because Apple has lost its most recents lawsuits so now they are bitterly returning back, hoping to find a new case to file against Samsung.

Were you dropped on your motion sensor as a child?

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
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Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #31 of 39
I was thinking from the galaxy's sliding profit perspective, but maybe I did get it the wrong way round. The Samsung screens seem to be the best time and time again and they make great chips, ram and memory too.
post #32 of 39
Sounds like Samsung trying to manipulate their stock price up for once instead of making bullshit rumours to drive Apple shares down.
post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidgoscinny View Post

The A6X is already in use on the 4th generation iPad since last year as was the A5X for the 3rd generation. They're never used for iPhones as they're quite a bit more power hungry than their non-X counterparts.

 

You're right on. The other reason the "X" chips are not used in the iPhone is that the smaller screens don't have a ton of pixels to push around like the iPads.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by virtua View Post

I was thinking from the galaxy's sliding profit perspective, but maybe I did get it the wrong way round. The Samsung screens seem to be the best time and time again and they make great chips, ram and memory too.

 

Not sure what you're meaning...? Samsung CAN make Apple-quality screens, but they don't use them in their own products. 

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by felisberto View Post

I think its because Apple has lost its most recents lawsuits so now they are bitterly returning back, hoping to find a new case to file against Samsung.

 

Your post FAILS on every level. Apple will buy from Samsung if they offer what Apple wants at the best price on the market and in the incredible volumes Apple needs. Apple is very practical and not a petulant child.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

WSJ rumors tend to be pretty reliable, so I don't think the original TSMC rumor was wrong. They probably signed contracts with both, i.e. all the TSMC action hasn't been about escaping Samsung entirely but just creating some competition.

I totally agree. And for all we know TSMC might be second sourcing chips for the iPod Touch or a new product Apple will emerge with. Tim has said that watching Apple's vendors is no good way to predict what Apple is doing.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by poksi View Post

Being vertically integrated company may not always be a good thing. AT the moment this seems like a Samsung's advantage, but only one false technological decision may trash it like a house of cards. It also cuts the competitive edge in a long turn.

 

Samsung's been making both semiconductors and phones for a very long time now.

 

Quote:
I also don't believe for a second Apple is investing anything in any chip fab company. This would be a worst choice: on one hand they make themselves as commodity to such supplier and on the other hand they still don't control whole process ant take whole profits.

 

Apple supposedly invested billions in one or more display makers, in order to help boost their production and R&D capabilities.

post #38 of 39

"summary:" It is possible that Apple could go to Samsung for 14nm, but IBM and Global Foundries share research with Samsung, meaning they would have the same tech.  And I believe Apple doesn't hate them as much as they hate Samsung.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjc999 View Post

 

Doesn't sound weird to me. NVidia and AMD got burned several times by bad yields on TSMC processes. Semiconductors require long lead times. The first processes at the 14nm node according to the ITRS is slated for sometime in 2014, which means it'll be ready for actual shipping products sometime in 2015. It takes 1-2 years to get to tape-out/first silicon, so if Apple is targeting the 14nm node for 2015, it needs to start designing for it now.

 

Then it simply depends on which companies will have all of the tools, libraries, and fabs ready to go by 2015. If Apple doesn't trust TSMC and trusts Samsung more to deliver, they will go with Samsung.

 

In reality, they will probably hedge their bets up to a certain "point of no return" where they have to design to go with a certain fab.

 

Apple could just decide to go with a larger node, like 22nm, but since battery life, performance per watt, die size, heat, weight, etc are so critically tied to semiconductor node, Apple would be sacrifice lots of design advantages and cede leadership to their competitors. We're not talking "specs" as in Ghz, we're talking "how it works" designy stuff, like a device that is hotter, heavier, thicker, than competitors on a smaller node.

 

The idea of Apple building their own fab in this time frame is ludicrous. They don't have any expertise building fabs, and even if they did, it takes even Intel or TSMC years to build them.

 

AMD might have gotten burned, but they have not said anything publicly.  The only company that I know of that has publicly decried TSMC has been Nvidia.

Who says they are going with TSMC for sub 20 nm?
Samsung's R&D also goes into the "Common Platform" with the "leading edge" partners being: Samsung, IBM and Global Foundries.  If Samsung has 20nm tech, then Global Foundries will have it.  If the issues of tools comes up, I am sure Apple would be happy to buy tools in order to ensure they spite Samsung.  At least, that is my view.

Apple is not building a fab anytime soon according to anyone that has any credible reputation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack99 View Post

I don't think this has been stressed enough. Everyone here seems to be sticking to this fantasy that Apple can never fail in any venture it focuses on, even if it's an unrealistic one. Fabbing expertise isn't gained overnight. The fact that they've signed a contract that goes into 2015 and beyond signals it's probably not likely Apple is going into in-house fabbing anytime soon. And by anytime soon, I mean not for another 5 years, perhaps even more. 

 

A lot can happen in that time frame. It's best to keep our feet planted on the ground and our head out of the clouds.

Huh?  Apple is most likely partnering with a fabrication company (TSMC, Intel, Global Foundries and Samsung are the large ones, IBM is high tech, but low volume in my understanding).  So, they get to work with a company towards making a process like Intel did for Silvermont.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

It makes total sense.  Samsung is well known for their leading fab tech and quality.  Those are features that Apple likes to include in their devices.

 

As for Apple's plans, every experienced fab poster so far has said that it's unlikely that Apple plans to produce their own chips in a factory they will own and run themselves.

 

It's far more likely (and in Apple's history) that they're heavily investing in someone else making the chips.

Yes, but once more: "Common Platform" if Global Foundries and IBM have the same technology and basically the same process why would Apple go to Samsung, who Apple seems to be trying to get away from.

note: I believe Global Foundry fabs in New York are supposed to be online (mass production) by start of 2014.

-QAMF

Active on S}A forums.  S|A student level subscriber.  Don't claim to know what is in the articles.

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Active on S}A forums.  S|A student level subscriber.  Don't claim to know what is in the articles.

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post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

Not sure what you're meaning...? Samsung CAN make Apple-quality screens, but they don't use them in their own products. 

I'm talking about Samsung screens Apple use in their products. I was relieved to have a Samsung screen in my rmbp and think the Samsung fairs better than the lg in the mac airs too. Sharper.
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