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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    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.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    disturbiadisturbia Posts: 563member
    The Korea Economic Daily reports that?!! LOL ;)
  • Reply 3 of 38
    negafoxnegafox Posts: 480member


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

  • Reply 4 of 38
    timbittimbit Posts: 331member
    A9 in 2015!?!? Are they going right to A7 in September? No 6X I guess. A7 with iOS 7 :)
  • Reply 5 of 38
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,232member


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

  • Reply 6 of 38
    512ke512ke Posts: 781member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    danoxdanox Posts: 360member
    Ha..Ha..Ha..don't let the hit you in the ass...Samsung!
  • Reply 8 of 38
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 38


    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. 


  • Reply 10 of 38
    gazoobeegazoobee Posts: 3,754member

    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. 

  • Reply 11 of 38

    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.

  • Reply 12 of 38
    rjc999rjc999 Posts: 69member

    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.

  • Reply 13 of 38
    jusephejusephe Posts: 108member
    If this mess of jumping between two supliers is true, suddenly the idea of "Apple chip fab" is much nicer than this.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Disturbia View Post



    The Korea Economic Daily reports that?!! LOL image


     


    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. 

  • Reply 16 of 38
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member

    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. 

  • Reply 17 of 38

    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 image


    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.

  • Reply 18 of 38
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member

    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.

  • Reply 19 of 38
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member


    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.

  • Reply 20 of 38
    virtuavirtua Posts: 206member
    Maybe samsung needs apple more than apple needs samsung - could lead to special development for apple. And they do produce great chips and screens.
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