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GlobalFoundries to build A-series chips for Apple in New York - report

post #1 of 35
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Apple will reportedly add a second U.S. chip fabrication plant to its supply chain, partnering with California-based GlobalFoundries to produce A-series processors at a new $6 billion facility in upstate New York.

Apple A7
The "floorplan" of Apple's latest A-series processor, the A7. | Source: Chipworks


Current Apple fab partner Samsung will help to ramp up production at the new facility, according to a Monday afternoon report from the Albany Times Union. The site, in Malta, New York, was rumored to be in the running for a slot in Apple's supply chain late last year.

Logistical details of the arrangement between Apple, Samsung, and Global Foundries are not known, and a GlobalFoundries spokesman declined to comment when asked by the Times Union. Samsung is currently the sole supplier of A-series processors for Apple, fabricating the chips at a plant in Austin, Texas.

Many of the earlier rumors swirling around the Malta deal pegged Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), rather than Global Foundries, as Apple's partner. At the time, the venture was thought to go by the codename "Project Azalea."

As late as last month, whispers that Samsung had lost as much as half of the contract for Apple's purported next-generation "A8" processor to TSMC were circulating from sources in Samsung's home turf of South Korea. It is possible, though unlikely, that both Samsung and TSMC could be involved in the New York deal.
post #2 of 35

Cool- I'm all for it.  The less reliance on Samsung, the better.

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post #3 of 35

F-you Samdung.

post #4 of 35
Why would Samfxxx help to start up the 'production of its competitor? Plus spending 6 B to scale up a soon to be phased out generation of a chip design...hey, be more creative in making up a story...Bad rumor.
post #5 of 35
mdriftmeyer has been calling this for a couple of years now... If true good call
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post #6 of 35

Hard to know what to make of all these rumors. 

 

If it's true that Apple has gone with GloFo, I suspect it's because GloFo was willing to cede a level of ownership and control to Apple that companies like TSMC and Intel were not. I doubt it's because of any technological advantage from GloFo. But perhaps with Apple's business, GloFo can more quickly catch up with the competition. And perhaps because GloFo also builds x86 processors for AMD, Apple might have been able to strike a deal with them along the lines of "you can't use our fabs and the technology we pay for to make other ARM chips, but you can use them to make x86 chips" -- that could have been appealing to GloFo. 

post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by water cooler View Post

Why would Samfxxx help to start up the 'production of its competitor?

It could well be that the actual customer is Samsung even if the end-customer is Apple. TSMC and Samsung happily work together in some other areas such as developing the machinery to produce upcoming silicon designs.
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post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by water cooler View Post

Why would Samfxxx help to start up the 'production of its competitor? Plus spending 6 B to scale up a soon to be phased out generation of a chip design...hey, be more creative in making up a story...Bad rumor.

 

The original story hints at why Samsung would do this. IBM, Samsung, and GloFo apparently have a strategic alliance, part of which involves "synching" their fabs so that any one of their customers is assured of being able to draw on capacity from other members of the alliance. That implies that perhaps Apple has always had the option to draw on IBM or GloFo, and that Samsung is contractually on the hook to help support that. 

post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It could well be that the actual customer is Samsung even if the end-customer is Apple. TSMC and Samsung happily work together in some other areas such as developing the machinery to produce upcoming silicon designs.

Yeah, the Macrumors article mentioned that possibility. But this would add another layer of corporate accounting ( costs, profits, etc.). This would lead to less profitability to Samsung, as they would likely need to charge Apple the same.

What machinery does TSMC and Samsung design and build for chip fabrication? There are companies who do that. While Samsung might be involved in that industry to some extent, it isn't, in a major way, and as far as I know, TSMC isn't involved at all. GF does nothing in that area.
post #10 of 35

Perhaps Apple is unwilling to have their chips fabbed outside the U.S.?

post #11 of 35
Do I get a ``thanks for the heads up'' I mentioned for the past several months on this one?
post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post
 

Hard to know what to make of all these rumors. 

 

If it's true that Apple has gone with GloFo, I suspect it's because GloFo was willing to cede a level of ownership and control to Apple that companies like TSMC and Intel were not. I doubt it's because of any technological advantage from GloFo. But perhaps with Apple's business, GloFo can more quickly catch up with the competition. And perhaps because GloFo also builds x86 processors for AMD, Apple might have been able to strike a deal with them along the lines of "you can't use our fabs and the technology we pay for to make other ARM chips, but you can use them to make x86 chips" -- that could have been appealing to GloFo. 

 

No. It's because Malta and it's sister expansion on-site with an emphasis on MEMS and the joint partnerships with TSMC, IBM and more pouring in billions in Malta beyond it's already hefty investment making it suit Apple's end game for all it's embedded products presently and in the future [MEMS is a big clue].

 

It's all part of GlFlo's Foundry 2.0 future and focus.

post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Yeah, the Macrumors article mentioned that possibility. But this would add another layer of corporate accounting ( costs, profits, etc.). This would lead to less profitability to Samsung, as they would likely need to charge Apple the same.

What machinery does TSMC and Samsung design and build for chip fabrication? There are companies who do that. While Samsung might be involved in that industry to some extent, it isn't, in a major way, and as far as I know, TSMC isn't involved at all. GF does nothing in that area.

I hadn't seen the MacRumors article yet so apparently there's more than a few folks mentioning that as an explanation for otherwise odd claims. As for the machinery side of things there's an article here involving investments by both Samsung and TSMC. There's another I stumbled on earlier and I'll link that one for you too when I search it back up.
http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/27/samsung-invests-in-amsl/
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post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Do I get a ``thanks for the heads up'' I mentioned for the past several months on this one?

I think somebody already credited you.

In any event I think the big thing here is going Global Foundries is a low resistance path. GF and Samsung are member of the same consortium so there is minimal work involved in transferring product manufacturing to GF. note minimal here is in comparison to other foundries, Samsung has focused very much on low power while GF has tried to focus on clock rate.

In any event if this is true, I will believe it when a press release is handed out, it will be a big shot in the arm for GF.


A side note:

At least on Appleinsider we have a smarter collection of members. Over on MacRumors all the talk was about bringing production back to the USA. Of course the "people" there don't seem to realize that A series chips are currently made in Texas.
post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

No. It's because Malta and it's sister expansion on-site with an emphasis on MEMS and the joint partnerships with TSMC, IBM and more pouring in billions in Malta beyond it's already hefty investment making it suit Apple's end game for all it's embedded products presently and in the future [MEMS is a big clue].
Very cool seeing Apple and MEMS mentioned in the same sentence. Here we all are speculating about watches and TVs and meanwhile Apple is setting up shop next to a MEMS facility. What will they think of next? 1biggrin.gif

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post #16 of 35
Wasn't it Lenin who said: "They will sell us the rope we use to hang them with"?
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post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Yeah, the Macrumors article mentioned that possibility. But this would add another layer of corporate accounting ( costs, profits, etc.). This would lead to less profitability to Samsung, as they would likely need to charge Apple the same.
I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Samsungs current Texas plant is maxed out or nearly so. This is most likely a way to meet Apples ever expanding need for chips which will continue to grow in the future. How all of this will be handled accounting wise is a mystery if it is even true (this wouldn't be the first mistake made by a newspaper). I would imagine that Apple is paying for the technology transfer.

Remember part of Samsungs process is owned by Apple through the Intrinsity purchase. People seem to forget about this but Apple owns the IP (at least some of it) that allows for these low power products. Further it has never been totally clear as to how much Apple invested in the Texas operations. Back in the day, when the plants first went up, Samsung executives talked about partnerships but never defined who the partners where or if they ever actually entered into a partnership. My feeling here is that Apple has a huge influence at Samsungs Texas plants.
Quote:
What machinery does TSMC and Samsung design and build for chip fabrication? There are companies who do that.
Nothing in a plant like these remains virgin. You work with vendors to get the results you want.
Quote:
While Samsung might be involved in that industry to some extent, it isn't, in a major way, and as far as I know, TSMC isn't involved at all. GF does nothing in that area.

I think you are wrong on all accounts here. Any company involved in bleeding edge technology does development work on its own or as part of a consortium. Generally you can think of this as teaming up.
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post

Very cool seeing Apple and MEMS mentioned in the same sentence.
Why would that be so? Apple has been involved in MEMS for years now, what do you think those accelerometers and other devices in their devices are made of?
Quote:
Here we all are speculating about watches and TVs and meanwhile Apple is setting up shop next to a MEMS facility. What will they think of next? 1biggrin.gif

I'm hoping they think of quad core "A" series processors with significantly enhanced GPUs, advanced memory systems and something beyond flash for storage.
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


At least on Appleinsider we have a smarter collection of members. Over on MacRumors all the talk was about bringing production back to the USA. Of course the "people" there don't seem to realize that A series chips are currently made in Texas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

No. It's because Malta and it's sister expansion on-site with an emphasis on MEMS and the joint partnerships with TSMC, IBM and more pouring in billions in Malta beyond it's already hefty investment making it suit Apple's end game for all it's embedded products presently and in the future [MEMS is a big clue].
Very cool seeing Apple and MEMS mentioned in the same sentence. Here we all are speculating about watches and TVs and meanwhile Apple is setting up shop next to a MEMS facility. What will they think of next? 1biggrin.gif

I have been thinking about this a bit.

We know that the Ax APs are being made in the US -- as are the new Mac Pros.

With the proper mix of automation and skilled jobs -- wouldn't it be possible to bring much of Apple's manufacturing and assembly to the US?


It just seems odd to manufacture an Ax APU here, ship it to the Far East, for assembly, then ship [a large percentage of] the final product back to the US.

Maybe Apple should buy UPS.
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post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Why would that be so? Apple has been involved in MEMS for years now, what do you think those accelerometers and other devices in their devices are made of?
I'm hoping they think of quad core "A" series processors with significantly enhanced GPUs, advanced memory systems and something beyond flash for storage.
Right, I exposed my ignorance. Apologies to the AI community.
Still, I don't think IBM and others are throwing $billions at MEMS to make a better gyroscope.
I'm just hoping for something a little more innovative from Apple than quad core processors and better GPUs.

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post #21 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post

Right, I exposed my ignorance. Apologies to the AI community.
Still, I don't think IBM and others are throwing $billions at MEMS to make a better gyroscope.
.
IBM? 1smile.gif
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/09/idUS99788+09-Oct-2012+BW20121009
http://www.zurich.ibm.com/st/mems/cantilever.html
http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1256739
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post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I'm hoping they think of quad core "A" series processors with significantly enhanced GPUs, advanced memory systems and something beyond flash for storage.

What about GPCPU as an alternative to quad/octo core CPUs?


Then, for an alternative to flash, how about bubble memory -- and magnetorestictive delay lines as an alternative to DRAM 1biggrin.gif


Edit: Seriously, I think that Apple will want to exploit the 64-bit APU advantage with more RAM (cheap and fast) and more/better SSD (cheap and fast). They bought Anobit for the SSD... I recall reading about a new DRAM that is cheap and fast.

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/10/new-blockbuster-memory-chip-may-kick-a7-into-another-orbit.html
Edited by Dick Applebaum - 11/11/13 at 3:43pm
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post #23 of 35

Looks like Apple is going to make the "A" series chip to be a true 64 bit later on in the coming years.  4GB RAM on SoC is not that far away!  I still will buy the iPad Mini Retina but I know it will be obsolete in the next few years since the A7 only has 1GB of RAM and cannot be used in true 64 bit mode.

post #24 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


I have been thinking about this a bit.

We know that the Ax APs are being made in the US -- as are the new Mac Pros.

With the proper mix of automation and skilled jobs -- wouldn't it be possible to bring much of Apple's manufacturing and assembly to the US?


It just seems odd to manufacture an Ax APU here, ship it to the Far East, for assembly, then ship [a large percentage of] the final product back to the US.

Maybe Apple should buy UPS.

 

 

My guess is Apple will be starting assembling their products back in the U.S. again in the near future.  They have already done that with the new Mac Pro!

post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post


What about GPCPU as an alternative to quad/octo core CPUs?


Then, for an alternative to flash, how about bubble memory -- and magnetorestictive delay lines as an alternative to DRAM 1biggrin.gif


Edit: Seriously, I think that Apple will want to exploit the 64-bit APU advantage with more RAM (cheap and fast) and more/better SSD (cheap and fast). They bought Anobit for the SSD... I recall reading about a new DRAM that is cheap and fast.

http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2013/10/new-blockbuster-memory-chip-may-kick-a7-into-another-orbit.html

 

No. The GPGPU Vector processing complements the CPU pipeline which combined in a SoC will improve with more HSA initiative work on Apple's part.

post #26 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


Why would that be so? Apple has been involved in MEMS for years now, what do you think those accelerometers and other devices in their devices are made of?
I'm hoping they think of quad core "A" series processors with significantly enhanced GPUs, advanced memory systems and something beyond flash for storage.

 

MEMS research at GloFlo is a much farther advanced beast than what has been historically MEMS markets.

post #27 of 35
Originally Posted by Harry Wild View Post
Looks like Apple is going to make the "A" series chip to be a true 64 bit later on in the coming years.

 

It’s already true 64-bit. Amount of system RAM doesn’t dictate that.

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post #28 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

What about GPCPU as an alternative to quad/octo core CPUs?
I really don't know what Apple is up too but speculation is always interesting. Especially interesting considering all the AMD GPU engineers they have hired of late. The problem is CPUs and GPUs do different things. I could see Apple integrating the GPUs and CPUs in a way we haven't seen yet.

In any event quad cores currently seem to be the optimal number for common user apps.
Quote:

Then, for an alternative to flash, how about bubble memory -- and magnetorestictive delay lines as an alternative to DRAM 1biggrin.gif
I would expect something new.
Quote:

Edit: Seriously, I think that Apple will want to exploit the 64-bit APU advantage with more RAM (cheap and fast) and more/better SSD (cheap and fast). They bought Anobit for the SSD... I recall reading about a new DRAM that is cheap and fast.
I'm actually disappointed that they didn't go to 2GB this time around.
post #29 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Wild View Post

Looks like Apple is going to make the "A" series chip to be a true 64 bit later on in the coming years.  4GB RAM on SoC is not that far away!  I still will buy the iPad Mini Retina but I know it will be obsolete in the next few years since the A7 only has 1GB of RAM and cannot be used in true 64 bit mode.
This is nonsense, the A7 is very much a true 64 bit processor.
post #30 of 35
Great location, Malta. There's a lot of chip fab moxie in Upstate New York and around Burlington, Vermont, and Malta is right in the middle of it. Right on an interstate; a county airport four miles away with good intersecting runways and a highly rated FBO. If you're going to spend zigabucks on fab in the U.S., Malta is an outstanding spot strategically.

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post #31 of 35
It looks increasingly like this has little if anything at all to do with Apple striking a deal with TSMC Global Foundry as another A7 chip supply source. Instead it's now reported to be a "flex capacity"agreement between Samsung and Global Foundry rather than Apple just as I guessed earlier in the thread. With the Samsung Austin plant at max capacity (Apple isn't their only customer) Global Foundry will build A7's as needed under a contract with Samsung and not Apple. That makes much more sense than odd claims that Sammy was going to help Apple get Global Foundry up to speed.

Apple may yet second-source or even replace Samsung altogether at some future point but this doesn't look like the start of it.

http://allthingsd.com/20131112/dont-get-too-excited-about-globalfoundries-and-apple-at-least-not-just-yet/
Edited by Gatorguy - 11/12/13 at 7:47am
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post #32 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post

Great location, Malta. There's a lot of chip fab moxie in Upstate New York and around Burlington, Vermont, and Malta is right in the middle of it. Right on an interstate; a county airport four miles away with good intersecting runways and a highly rated FBO. If you're going to spend zigabucks on fab in the U.S., Malta is an outstanding spot strategically.

Except for the snow in winters. That is probably the worst thing about upstate NY.
post #33 of 35
Hey Gator that is Global Foundries not TSMC! 😳😳

Honestly this has nothing to do with any possible deal with TSMC. It does have something to do with a factory running at full capacity and the cost & time of building a new one. I see this as an indication that demand for Apples products and also Samsungs products is stronger than ever. As noted above iPad demand is where iPhone was only a few years ago.

The rumors of constrained supplies of screens for the new iPad Mini may soon be replaced with rumors of constrained supplies of the A7. Well maybe not, if they are doing this now they may be seeing a growth demand resulting in a short fall in the future. So they need to get the nuts and bolts of production on Global Foundries equipment nailed down before that happens. It could be months before actual production leaves Global Foundries for Apple products.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

It looks increasingly like this has little if anything at all to do with Apple striking a deal with TSMC as another A7 chip supply source. Instead it's now reported to be a "flex capacity"agreement between Samsung and TSMC rather than Apple just as I guessed earlier in the thread. With the Samsung Austin plant at max capacity (Apple isn't their only customer) TSMC will build A7's as needed under a contract with Samsung and not Apple. That makes much more sense than odd claims that Sammy was going to help Apple get TSMC up to speed.

Apple may yet second-source or even replace Samsung altogether at some future point but this doesn't look like the start of it.

http://allthingsd.com/20131112/dont-get-too-excited-about-globalfoundries-and-apple-at-least-not-just-yet/
post #34 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Hey Gator that is Global Foundries not TSMC!

Thanks! I meant Global Foundries but had TSMC on the mind after reading an article about them earlier. The rest of the post still stands, just insert GF in place of TSMC.

...and thanks again Wizard. 1embarassed.gif
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post #35 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

Hey Gator that is Global Foundries not TSMC! 😳😳

Honestly this has nothing to do with any possible deal with TSMC. It does have something to do with a factory running at full capacity and the cost & time of building a new one. I see this as an indication that demand for Apples products and also Samsungs products is stronger than ever. As noted above iPad demand is where iPhone was only a few years ago.

The rumors of constrained supplies of screens for the new iPad Mini may soon be replaced with rumors of constrained supplies of the A7. Well maybe not, if they are doing this now they may be seeing a growth demand resulting in a short fall in the future. So they need to get the nuts and bolts of production on Global Foundries equipment nailed down before that happens. It could be months before actual production leaves Global Foundries for Apple products.

There's the possibility of other devices using the A7 with different combinations of DRAM and SSD sizes. some good candidates:
  • AppleTV
  • Game Console / AppleTV combo
  • iTunes Media Server / Home Server / Backup Server (with iCloud staging)
  • Larger multitouch device
  • hybrid Intel / A7 device like a MackBook Air
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