Rumor: Apple's expiring chip contract with Samsung will lead to TSMC-built 'A7' chips

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's future "A7" chips for 2014's "iPhone 6" will be built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. once the existing contract with Samsung expires, a new rumor claims.

Chips
All of Apple's iDevice chips to date have been manufactured by Samsung in Austin, Tex.


The details come from Taiwan's Economic Daily News, and were highlighted by Japanese blog Macotakara on Tuesday. The report claims that Apple plans to utilize a so-called "A7" processor built on a smaller 20-nanometer process next year.

That advanced chip is rumored to be built by TSMC, and not Samsung, Apple's longtime chip producing partner. Currently, Samsung is responsible for the fabrication of all of Apple's A-series chips to date, including the latest A6 chip in the iPhone, and the beefier A6X found in the fourth-generation iPad.

The rumor, if true, suggests that Apple's anticipated "iPhone 5S," a next-generation handset expected to debut this year, will not feature a full-fledged next-generation "A7" processor. Conversely, the report's anticipated branding of the chip could be incorrect, and TSMC could in fact be working on a 20-nanometer chip for Apple that could be known as an "A8," or something else entirely.

The company's first custom A-series chip, the A4, debuted in the first-generation iPad in 2010, and launched in the iPhone 4 later that year, while the A5 was introduced in the iPad 2 and later came to the iPhone 4S in 2011. Since then, new iPad models have had enhanced chips with an "X" moniker, like the A5X in the third-gen iPad and A6X in the fourth-gen model, while the A6 chip debuted last year in the iPhone 5.

TSMC officials have high hopes for their forthcoming 20-nanometer chip production process, as CEO Morris Chang has predicted the smaller chips, set to debut in 2014, will outsell the company's existing 28-nanometer chips in the first two years. That bullish belief has helped to fuel speculation that Apple plans to adopt TSMC's 20-nanometer chips for its iPhone and iPad starting next year.

Apple has long been rumored to be interested in switching its mobile chip manufacturing from Samsung to TSMC, but those predictions have yet to become a reality. Apple was once Samsung's largest customer, but the iPhone maker is said to be interested in removing Samsung from its supply chain as the two companies have become bitter rivals.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member


    Full screen Flash ads on AI? I know you guys need to make some money but still. image

  • Reply 2 of 24
    And TSMC just announced that they finished the results of their partnership with ARM to bring the Cortex A57 on their latest process. Good time for Apple to move to TSMC.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,881member
    richl wrote: »
    Full screen Flash ads on AI? I know you guys need to make some money but still. <img alt="1oyvey.gif" id="user_yui_3_7_3_1_1364906076160_998" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies/1oyvey.gif" style="line-height:1.231;" name="user_yui_3_7_3_1_1364906076160_998">

    Install ClicktoFlash ... :)
  • Reply 4 of 24
    Sounds like good news for Apple and APPL. I've always found it strange in the trolling wars with Samsung that a lot of the stuff inside the iPhone was built by the enemy.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    I'm curious to see what Apple puts in the iPhone 5S.

    I guess people would scream that Apple is doomed if they stick with the A6, but I think the A6 is a perfectly cromulent processor. I think it might make more sense to die shrink the A6 and improve battery life, unless there's some killer new feature in iOS7 that could really benefit from a faster SOC. As the phone stands now, though, there's nothing sluggish at all. Unlike with previous iPhones I've owned, it's hard for me to point to anything that would benefit from more CPU speed.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    starbird73starbird73 Posts: 538member
    blastdoor wrote: »
    I'm curious to see what Apple puts in the iPhone 5S.

    I guess people would scream that Apple is doomed if they stick with the A6, but I think the A6 is a perfectly cromulent processor. I think it might make more sense to die shrink the A6 and improve battery life, unless there's some killer new feature in iOS7 that could really benefit from a faster SOC. As the phone stands now, though, there's nothing sluggish at all. Unlike with previous iPhones I've owned, it's hard for me to point to anything that would benefit from more CPU speed.

    But... But... But.... You must be lying or a fanboy. How can you say that we don't need faster/more/newer??? Android phones know the game. That's it, I'm ditching my iPhone 5 for Android. Apple is so behind. They don't get it...

    (End of sarcasm)
  • Reply 7 of 24
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    Install ClicktoFlash ... image


     


    Perfect, thanks! :)

  • Reply 8 of 24
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,630member
    WS spin: Sammy declines to make Apple chips. Apple scrambling for new partner; Android winning for Samsung.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    And TSMC just announced that they finished the results of their partnership with ARM to bring the Cortex A57 on their latest process. Good time for Apple to move to TSMC.

    If true (and I don't accept any of the endless rumors until there's a direct statement from one of the parties), there's more to the announcement than the surface benefits.

    TMSC's 20 nm process is well ahead of Samsung. Since it's a new process, capacity will be limited. That has huge upside potential and huge downside potential.

    On the downside, there's the risk that they couldn't produce the required number of components and Apple would have shortages.

    On the upside, if they can produce enough to supply Apple, that would probably use up all of their supply - which means that there would be no 20 nm capacity left for Android vendors - forcing them to use a previous generation chip.

    In reality, though, Apple would almost certainly not switch all of their purchases to a new, untested 20 nm process. They will undoubtedly continue to buy from Samsung for a while.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    starbird73 wrote: »
    blastdoor wrote: »
    I'm curious to see what Apple puts in the iPhone 5S.

    I guess people would scream that Apple is doomed if they stick with the A6, but I think the A6 is a perfectly cromulent processor. I think it might make more sense to die shrink the A6 and improve battery life, unless there's some killer new feature in iOS7 that could really benefit from a faster SOC. As the phone stands now, though, there's nothing sluggish at all. Unlike with previous iPhones I've owned, it's hard for me to point to anything that would benefit from more CPU speed.

    But... But... But.... You must be lying or a fanboy. How can you say that we don't need faster/more/newer??? Android phones know the game. That's it, I'm ditching my iPhone 5 for Android. Apple is so behind. They don't get it...

    (End of sarcasm)

    Yeah... and the iOS UI is long in the toots!
  • Reply 11 of 24
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,505member
    jungmark wrote: »
    WS spin: Sammy declines to make Apple chips. Apple scrambling for new partner; Android winning for Samsung.

    Word has it that Sammy is developing the new Quisling OS...
  • Reply 12 of 24
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,495member
    Yeah... and the iOS UI is long in the toots!

    And getting its tail!
  • Reply 13 of 24
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,495member
    Word has it that Sammy is developing the new Quisling OS...

    Nah, that's just their new search app . . .
  • Reply 14 of 24
    tjwaltjwal Posts: 404member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post



    I'm curious to see what Apple puts in the iPhone 5S.



    I guess people would scream that Apple is doomed if they stick with the A6, but I think the A6 is a perfectly cromulent processor. I think it might make more sense to die shrink the A6 and improve battery life, unless there's some killer new feature in iOS7 that could really benefit from a faster SOC. As the phone stands now, though, there's nothing sluggish at all. Unlike with previous iPhones I've owned, it's hard for me to point to anything that would benefit from more CPU speed.


    I find the current IOS fine on my phone.  A few tweaks here and there are always nice but I don't think that would require a more powerful processor.  A 20nm A6 should use less power though and would extend battery life.   IOS on the iPad though has lots of room for improvement so a more powerful processeor is likely needed there. On that note it's likely that iPhone and Tablet IOSs will soon start to diverge.

  • Reply 15 of 24
    loptimistloptimist Posts: 113member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    ...

    TMSC's 20 nm process is well ahead of Samsung.

    ...


     


    Definitely Not True.  TSMC at last joined 16nm FinFET.  All the other major FABs have done that last year or two.


    And this does not even mean that TSMC has the capacity to mass produce as Samsung does.


    The real question is what is the yield for TSMC.


     


    SOURCE: http://sammyhub.com/2012/12/21/samsung-successfully-tapes-out-14nm-based-test-chips/

  • Reply 16 of 24
    karas11karas11 Posts: 32member


    This is funny.. Since when TSMC was the best production for SOC? Bad move for Apple I think.


     


    TSMC.. Notoriously can not met their promise. nVidia, AMD all crash and burn because TSMC.


    By the way TSMC partially shut down current earthquake.. Are they come back 100% from that?


    And "TSMC officials have high hopes for their forthcoming 20-nanometer chip production process" means it is not up and running yet..


    Good luck Apple.

  • Reply 17 of 24
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 812member
    jungmark wrote: »
    WS spin: Sammy declines to make Apple chips. Apple scrambling for new partner; Android winning for Samsung.
    That's interesting how. Apple has been systematically moving their business to other companies for over a year, then two months after a leak about Apple moving their chip business too Samsung suddenly announces "THEY" will stop making Apple chips. Really?!
  • Reply 18 of 24

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post





    Install ClicktoFlash ... image


    And AdBlocker

  • Reply 19 of 24
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    loptimist wrote: »
    Definitely Not True.  TSMC at last joined 16nm FinFET.  All the other major FABs have done that last year or two.
    And this does not even mean that TSMC has the capacity to mass produce as Samsung does.
    The real question is what is the yield for TSMC.

    SOURCE: http://sammyhub.com/2012/12/21/samsung-successfully-tapes-out-14nm-based-test-chips/

    In part, the contract with Apple is what enabled Samsung to do so. Apple spent billions of dollars in advance to ensure that Samsung could deliver. Now, Apple is spending all that money on TSMC.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    loptimistloptimist Posts: 113member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post





    In part, the contract with Apple is what enabled Samsung to do so. Apple spent billions of dollars in advance to ensure that Samsung could deliver. Now, Apple is spending all that money on TSMC.


    Seriously??


     


    If I am not mistaken, and I don't think I am wrong here, Apple is one of the buyers who would cut the profit margin for Samsung almost to its marginal cost.  I doubt that Apple has contributed anything to Samsung's manufacturing techniques and capacity.  


     


    After all, if there were any other alternative, Apple would have gone to that given their general hostility against Samsung's retail mobile phones.  The fact that Apple spent billions of dollars in advance was to ensure that they get the first batches of chipsets from Samsung at a low price, nothing more.

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