Samsung excluded from development of Apple's next-gen 'A7' chip - report

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
The growing rift between Samsung and Apple has led to Samsung being cut out of the development process of Apple's next-generation custom chips for the iPhone and iPad, according to a new report.

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


Apple's so-called "A7" processor will debut in the first half of 2014, and development for the chip is underway, according to a new report Wednesday by The Korea Times. But Samsung is said to not be a part of that development process, as Apple has apparently turned to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. for assistance.

Apple has been using custom designs for its iPhone and iPad chips for years, but to date the production of those chips has been handled entirely by Samsung. Rumors have persisted that Apple plans to cut Samsung out of its chipmaking business, but Apple's latest iPhone and iPad models still feature chips built by Samsung.

Samsung is said to be planning to grow its business partnerships with Nvidia in an effort to offset any losses it will experience in the departure of Apple as a customer.

The chipmaking division at Samsung is also expected to see growth from the sale of Samsung's own Galaxy handsets, which use custom Exynos-branded ARM chips. That includes the flagship Galaxy S4, which is set to debut this month.

Wednesday's report is just the latest in a series of claims that Apple is planning a shift in the near future to TSMC for its mobile chip production. While such rumors have persisted for years, Samsung continues to benefit from its intact partnerships with Apple.

An "A7" chip was also pegged as a transition product from Samsung to TSMC in a separate report earlier this month from Taiwan's Economic Daily News. That report also claimed that the "A7" would debut in 2014, and added that the chip will be built on a smaller, more efficient 20-nanometer process.

The naming conventions cited in the rumors suggest that Apple's anticipated 2013 iPhone model, the so-called "iPhone 5S," will not feature a full-fledged next-generation "A7" processor. Apple's latest generation of mobile processors debuted in the iPhone 5 with the A6, while the beefed-up A6X was introduced with the fourth-generation iPad.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57


    Good!

  • Reply 2 of 57
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,105member


    Good, the more than Apple can develop away from Samsung's peeping eyes the better.

  • Reply 3 of 57
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,198member
    While the change over could be true, the reasons might not be. This could be simply that TMSC is better at the processes to be used so the switch is totally practical, not political.
  • Reply 4 of 57
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    charlituna wrote: »
    While the change over could be true, the reasons might not be. This could be simply that TMSC is better at the processes to be used so the switch is totally practical, not political.

    Adding to that point, if other supplies have appreciably worse yields and worse power efficiency then I'm all for Samsung being Apple's supplier.
  • Reply 5 of 57
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member
    Use some of that cash horde to build fabrication plants. Sure, it would take years and isn't easy but developing AND fabricating your own chips would make it much harder for the copycats. And I believe this sort of plant is highly automated so why not build it in the U.S.
  • Reply 6 of 57
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member


    Unless iOS7 has some new features that really need a faster SOC I would think that the best interests of consumers would be served by just die-shrinking the A6 and pocketing the power savings and associated extra battery life. My iPhone 5 is the first iPhone I've owned where I perceive no need for greater speed in any feature I use regularly (the iPhone 4 was my prior model, so I can't speak to the 4s). 


     


    As for Samsung.... it's become clear that they will face a cost in losing Apple to offset the benefit of their smartphone business. For now, the benefit would appear to exceed the cost by a large margin. I'm very curious to see how the benefits and costs line up longer term, though. It is a heck of a lot easier for consumers to decide to switch from Samsung to another Android phone than it has been for Apple to switch from Samsung to TSMC. And I doubt any other OEM is going to trust Samsung to provide it with SOCs. So Samsung has essentially kissed goodbye its business of selling SOCs to other companies. 


     


    I really think Samsung could have become the Intel of mobile computing. Instead, they've decided they'd rather be a Dell or Compaq. That might seem like a good idea today, but looking back at how PC OEMs fared over time, it might not seem so smart in 10 years. 

  • Reply 7 of 57
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    Unless iOS7 has some new features that really need a faster SOC I would think that the best interests of consumers would be served by just die-shrinking the A6 and pocketing the power savings and associated extra battery life. My iPhone 5 is the first iPhone I've owned where I perceive no need for greater speed in any feature I use regularly (the iPhone 4 was my prior model, so I can't speak to the 4s). 


     


    As for Samsung.... it's become clear that they will face a cost in losing Apple to offset the benefit of their smartphone business. For now, the benefit would appear to exceed the cost by a large margin. I'm very curious to see how the benefits and costs line up longer term, though. It is a heck of a lot easier for consumers to decide to switch from Samsung to another Android phone than it has been for Apple to switch from Samsung to TSMC. And I doubt any other OEM is going to trust Samsung to provide it with SOCs. So Samsung has essentially kissed goodbye its business of selling SOCs to other companies. 


     


    I really think Samsung could have become the Intel of mobile computing. Instead, they've decided they'd rather be a Dell or Compaq. That might seem like a good idea today, but looking back at how PC OEMs fared over time, it might not seem so smart in 10 years. 



     


    I understand your POV. Why the need for a V8 over a V6 when you can still go to 100 mph in 7.5 second. But there is more to the need for speed than how a driver drives his car. Likewise, there is more going on in your phone than your perceived user experience, whether it has to do with iOS7 features or not.


     


    Edit: I have read your post more carefully - you wrote about your perceived need for greater speed rather than your perceived need for speed. No offense and please don't take it the wrong way, but why would Apple make a decision based *your* perceived need?

  • Reply 8 of 57
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,597member


    Why a company that relies on a constant stream of innovation for its competitive edge would partner with a known, shameless, and proven copycat is beyond me.  It's about time that Apple cut the umbilical cord to Samsung.

  • Reply 9 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member


    This makes me happy. It's high time copy cats suffered some karma. Even Microsoft, as useless of a job as they are doing, are at least original.

  • Reply 10 of 57
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member


    If this article is to be read literally, then Samsung was involved in previous development processes, and wasn't just a dumb foundry? How many people here will now retract some of their previous statements? Nah, why allow hindsight promote humility?

  • Reply 11 of 57
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post



    While the change over could be true, the reasons might not be. This could be simply that TMSC is better at the processes to be used so the switch is totally practical, not political.


     


    Hooking up with a reliable, solitary partner for manufacturing is also just plain common sense if you are increasingly becoming reliant on designing your own chips.  I could easily see this move happening regardless of Samsung's thievery.  

  • Reply 12 of 57
    bullheadbullhead Posts: 493member


    Great news. The less Samesung in the iPhone the better.

  • Reply 13 of 57
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,597member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post


    Unless iOS7 has some new features that really need a faster SOC I would think that the best interests of consumers would be served by just die-shrinking the A6 and pocketing the power savings and associated extra battery life. My iPhone 5 is the first iPhone I've owned where I perceive no need for greater speed in any feature I use regularly (the iPhone 4 was my prior model, so I can't speak to the 4s). 


     


    As for Samsung.... it's become clear that they will face a cost in losing Apple to offset the benefit of their smartphone business. For now, the benefit would appear to exceed the cost by a large margin. I'm very curious to see how the benefits and costs line up longer term, though. It is a heck of a lot easier for consumers to decide to switch from Samsung to another Android phone than it has been for Apple to switch from Samsung to TSMC. And I doubt any other OEM is going to trust Samsung to provide it with SOCs. So Samsung has essentially kissed goodbye its business of selling SOCs to other companies. 


     


    I really think Samsung could have become the Intel of mobile computing. Instead, they've decided they'd rather be a Dell or Compaq. That might seem like a good idea today, but looking back at how PC OEMs fared over time, it might not seem so smart in 10 years. 



     


    We do not know what new, greater, and better functions will become feasible because of the increased speed and power.  That's why we are here posting inconsequential palaver rather than in Cupertino running Apple.

  • Reply 14 of 57

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post


    Why a company that relies on a constant stream of innovation for its competitive edge would partner with a known, shameless, and proven copycat is beyond me.  It's about time that Apple cut the umbilical cord to Samsung.



     


    Because Samsung are the best (and the cheapest) at doing what they are told.


     


    If you do the designs and advanced engineering (brains), samsung can find the right amount of tiny hands and machinery for the job. That's the advantage of owning a whole country. No one can compete with that, not at that price (or close).

  • Reply 15 of 57
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post


    Hooking up with a reliable, solitary partner for manufacturing is also just plain common sense if you are increasingly becoming reliant on designing your own chips.  I could easily see this move happening regardless of Samsung's thievery.  



    I wonder why Apple is so reluctant to establish their own chip foundry. They are already designing their own chips and their habitual secrecy seems like it would be complemented by having their own chip plant. Perhaps they should build it in Austin and then poach all of Samsung's engineers. It is not like they won't be needing lots of new chips for the foreseeable future.

  • Reply 16 of 57
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post




    If you do the designs and advanced engineering (brains), samsung can find the right amount of tiny hands and machinery for the job. That's the advantage of owning a whole country. No one can compete with that, not at that price (or close).



    Apple's chips manufactured by Samsung are produced in the United States. Not sure where the tiny hands and owning the whole country come into play.

  • Reply 17 of 57
    tooltalktooltalk Posts: 766member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post


    If this article is to be read literally, then Samsung was involved in previous development processes, and wasn't just a dumb foundry? How many people here will now retract some of their previous statements? Nah, why allow hindsight promote humility?



     


    It's well known here that Samsung did most of design and implementation of Apple's early APs (A4 & A5 notably), while Apple's technical contribution was quite minimal until the A6.  It's also been discussed several times that Apple stole Samsung's technical / business partners like Intrinsity to build Apple's own ARM expertise in 2010. 


     


    There is nothing to retract - everyone here knows that when Jobs returned back in 1997, he gutted non-essential, non-money-making business units to stay lean and mean.  And that's one of the reasons why Apple relied on Samsung's technical and manufacturing expertise for the first ARM base APs. Nobody here would ever admit however that Apple depended on technical inspiration, manufacturing ideas from Samsung, SONY, Nokia, etc, etc.  It's important to maintain the false facade of innovation and originality -- which in turn translates to sales & customer loyalty.

  • Reply 18 of 57
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,597member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


     


    Because Samsung are the best (and the cheapest) at doing what they are told.


     


    If you do the designs and advanced engineering (brains), samsung can find the right amount of tiny hands and machinery for the job. That's the advantage of owning a whole country. No one can compete with that, not at that price (or close).



     


    That's kind of an ignorant statement.  They might be a notch below in certain types of creative thinking but years of South Korea sending its best students to get advanced degrees in the US's best science and technology graduate programs and then coming back home to work in Samsung, Hyundai, etc. makes your assertion just pure garbage.


     


    And chip fabrication is a highly automated process, don't know where 'tiny hands' figure there.  You're thinking of fine component assembly which is downstream of chip fabrication.

  • Reply 19 of 57
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post


     


    Because Samsung are the best (and the cheapest) at doing what they are told.


     


    If you do the designs and advanced engineering (brains), samsung can find the right amount of tiny hands and machinery for the job. That's the advantage of owning a whole country. No one can compete with that, not at that price (or close).



    Regardless of one's feelings toward Samsung, it would be misleading to claim that they are strictly about hands and machinery. As for "tiny hands", are you implying child labor or something else? 


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Apple's chips manufactured by Samsung are produced in the United States. Not sure where the tiny hands and owning the whole country come into play.



    Are all chips going to Apple manufactured in the US? If so, then switching away from Samsung would represent non-insignificant loss of US jobs.

  • Reply 20 of 57
    jdsonicejdsonice Posts: 156member
    Finally! Now Samsung is going to have to send in spies all over the place to steal Apple's designs.
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