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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

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

  • Reply 2 of 34
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    [SIZE=3][SIZE=4][/SIZE][/SIZE][SIZE=3][/SIZE]mdriftmeyer has been calling this for a couple of years now... If true good call
  • Reply 4 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,894member

    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. 

  • Reply 5 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,292member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,894member
    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. 

  • Reply 7 of 34
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,485member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,658member

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

  • Reply 9 of 34
    Do I get a ``thanks for the heads up'' I mentioned for the past several months on this one?
  • Reply 10 of 34
    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.

  • Reply 11 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,292member
    melgross wrote: »
    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/
  • Reply 12 of 34
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    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? :D
  • Reply 14 of 34
    Wasn't it Lenin who said: "They will sell us the rope we use to hang them with"?
  • Reply 15 of 34
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    melgross wrote: »
    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.
    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.
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,720member
    jonorom wrote: »
    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?
    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? :D

    I'm hoping they think of quad core "A" series processors with significantly enhanced GPUs, advanced memory systems and something beyond flash for storage.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    wizard69 wrote: »

    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.

    jonorom wrote: »
    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? :D

    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.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    wizard69 wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,292member
    jonorom wrote: »
    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? :)
    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
  • Reply 20 of 34
    wizard69 wrote: »
    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 :D


    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
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