Rumor: Apple lining up suppliers for next-gen 'A8' processor

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited June 2015
A trio of semiconductor product packaging companies have reportedly been tapped by Apple to help supply the company's next-generation "A8" mobile processor, according to a new rumor.

A7
Apple's latest A7 SoC. | Source: Chipworks


Amkor Technology, STATS ChipPAC and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering will all handle packaging orders for the "A8" chip, according to DigiTimes. The next processor likely to power Apple's 2014 iPhone and iPad upgrades is rumored to be a package-on-package system-on-a-chip solution with processors and mobile DRAM in a single package.

Amkor and STATS are each said to have landed 40 percent of Apple's future chip packaging orders, with the remaining 20 percent being covered by ASE.

The report also claims that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is planning to ramp up production of its 20-nanometer chipmaking process to begin building Apple's rumored "A8" chip. Production is said to begin in the second quarter of 2014.

TSMC has been rumored to land Apple chip orders for years, but the alleged partnership between the two companies has never actually come to be. To date, Apple's rival Samsung has produced all of the company's mobile processors in Austin, Tex.

Once again it's rumored that TSMC will break into Apple's chip production business this year, potentially sharing some of the production capacity for "A8" processors with Samsung.

Apple's most recent mobile processor, the A7, powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display. This has marked the first time that Apple has used the same chip in all of its latest iPhones and iPads.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    neilmneilm Posts: 899member
    It would be amazing were Apple not lining up suppliers for their next processor line, whenever that might go into production. It's not like deciding which supermarket to go to this afternoon.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member

    I thought for sure that Apple would be sticking with it's A-7 processor for its next generation iPhone and just make some minor software tweaks to improve it capability, much like they did with the camera, but I guess this rumor dispelled that. </s>

  • Reply 3 of 48
    DigiTimes... Meh.
  • Reply 4 of 48
    A trio of semiconductor product packaging companies have reportedly been tapped by Apple to help supply the company's next-generation "A8" mobile processor, according to a new rumor.

    <div align="center"><img src="http://cdn1.appleinsider.com/a7-130920.jpg" width="660" height="324" alt="A7" class="lazy" data-original="http://cdn1.appleinsider.com/a7-130920.jpg" style="display: inline;"><br><span class="minor2 small gray">Apple's latest A7 SoC. | Source: <a href="http://www.chipworks.com">Chipworks</a></span></div>

    Amkor Technology, STATS ChipPAC and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering will all handle packaging orders for the "A8" chip, <a href="http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20140127PD209.html?mod=3&q=APPLE">according to</a> <em>DigiTimes</em>. The next processor likely to power Apple's 2014 iPhone and iPad upgrades is rumored to be a package-on-package system-on-a-chip solution with processors and mobile DRAM in a single package.

    Amkor and STATS are each said to have landed 40 percent of Apple's future chip packaging orders, with the remaining 20 percent being covered by ASE.

    The report also claims that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is planning to ramp up production of its 20-nanometer chipmaking process to begin building Apple's rumored "A8" chip. Production is said to begin in the second quarter of 2014.

    TSMC has been rumored to land Apple chip orders <a href="http://appleinsider.com/articles/12/11/28/apples-rumored-chip-switch-from-samsung-to-tsmc-may-send-shockwaves-through-industry">for years</a>, but the alleged partnership between the two companies has never actually come to be. To date, Apple's rival Samsung has produced all of the company's mobile processors in Austin, Tex.

    Once again it's rumored that TSMC will break into Apple's chip production business <a href="http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/30/samsung-to-reportedly-share-production-of-apples-a8-soc-with-tsmc">this year</a>, potentially sharing some of the production capacity for "A8" processors with Samsung.

    Apple's most recent mobile processor, the A7, powers the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display. This has marked the first time that Apple has used the same chip in all of its latest iPhones and iPads.


    What's of interest to me is the PoP SoC and the implications it has for minimum and maximum DRAM on the A8.

    Is it possible that we could see increments from 2GB to 16GB RAM on the A8 package -- depending on the target device:  iPhone;  iPad;   iPad Pro (12");  AppleTV;  Home Server...


    With iOS and A7, Apple has the only 64-bit mobile OS and 64-bit ARM hardware -- and, likely, at least a 1 year lead on the competition. An A8 with more RAM could further exploit this lead by bringing 64-bit apps, including: games, professional, healthcare, etc. -- exclusively to the Apple platform.
  • Reply 5 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    What's of interest to me is the PoP SoC and the implications it has for minimum and maximum DRAM on the A8.



    Is it possible that we could see increments from 2GB to 16GB RAM on the A8 package -- depending on the target device:  iPhone;  iPad;   iPad Pro (12");  AppleTV;  Home Server...





    With iOS and A7, Apple has the only mobile 64-bit mobile OS and 64-bit ARM hardware -- likely, at least a 1 year lead on the competition. An A8 with more RAM could further exploit this lead by bringing 64-bit apps, including: games, professional, healthcare, etc. -- exclusively to the Apple platform.

    I'm also interest in more RAM.  1GB is just not enough for mobile photographers who shoot and edit in TIFF with LZW compression.

     

    Does anyone have an idea about how much it might cost Apple to go from 1GB of DRAM to 2GB or 4GB?

  • Reply 6 of 48
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,379member
    What's of interest to me is the PoP SoC and the implications it has for minimum and maximum DRAM on the A8.

    Is it possible that we could see increments from 2GB to 16GB RAM on the A8 package -- depending on the target device:  iPhone;  iPad;   iPad Pro (12");  AppleTV;  Home Server...


    With iOS and A7, Apple has the only 64-bit mobile OS and 64-bit ARM hardware -- and, likely, at least a 1 year lead on the competition. An A8 with more RAM could further exploit this lead by bringing 64-bit apps, including: games, professional, healthcare, etc. -- exclusively to the Apple platform.

    But ... But. 64 bit is just a gimmick! :D
  • Reply 7 of 48
    russell w wrote: »
    What's of interest to me is the PoP SoC and the implications it has for minimum and maximum DRAM on the A8.


    Is it possible that we could see increments from 2GB to 16GB RAM on the A8 package -- depending on the target device:  iPhone;  iPad;   iPad Pro (12");  AppleTV;  Home Server...



    With iOS and A7, Apple has the only mobile 64-bit mobile OS and 64-bit ARM hardware -- likely, at least a 1 year lead on the competition. An A8 with more RAM could further exploit this lead by bringing 64-bit apps, including: games, professional, healthcare, etc. -- exclusively to the Apple platform.
    I'm also interest in more RAM.  1GB is just not enough for mobile photographers who shoot and edit in TIFF with LZW compression.

    Does anyone have an idea about how much it might cost Apple to go from 1GB of DRAM to 2GB or 4GB?


    Don't know about cost, but apparently Micron and Sammy are the leaders in mobile DRAM

    And, Sammy has the latest breakthrough:
    On December 30, 2013, Samsung announced that it has developed the first 20 nm-class 8 Gigabit (1GB) LPDDR4 capable of transmitting data at 3,200 Mbit/s, thus providing 50 percent higher performance than the fastest LPDDR3 and consuming around 40 percent less energy at 1.1 volts.[14]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_DDR

    http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_announces_4gb_ddr4_mobile_dram-news-7444.php

    http://www.micron.com/products/dram/mobile-lpdram
  • Reply 8 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    Don't know about cost, but apparently Micron and Sammy are the leaders in mobile DRAM



    And, Sammy has the latest breakthrough:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_DDR



    http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_announces_4gb_ddr4_mobile_dram-news-7444.php



    http://www.micron.com/products/dram/mobile-lpdram

     

    Not that I expect it to ever happen, but wouldn't it be hysterical if Apple BOUGHT Samsung's RAM & processor manufacturing divisions?

  • Reply 9 of 48
    russell w wrote: »
    What's of interest to me is the PoP SoC and the implications it has for minimum and maximum DRAM on the A8.


    Is it possible that we could see increments from 2GB to 16GB RAM on the A8 package -- depending on the target device:  iPhone;  iPad;   iPad Pro (12");  AppleTV;  Home Server...



    With iOS and A7, Apple has the only mobile 64-bit mobile OS and 64-bit ARM hardware -- likely, at least a 1 year lead on the competition. An A8 with more RAM could further exploit this lead by bringing 64-bit apps, including: games, professional, healthcare, etc. -- exclusively to the Apple platform.
    I'm also interest in more RAM.  1GB is just not enough for mobile photographers who shoot and edit in TIFF with LZW compression.

    Does anyone have an idea about how much it might cost Apple to go from 1GB of DRAM to 2GB or 4GB?


    Don't know about cost, but apparently Micron and Sammy are the leaders in mobile DRAM

    And, Sammy has the latest breakthrough:
    On December 30, 2013, Samsung announced that it has developed the first 20 nm-class 8 Gigabit (1GB) LPDDR4 capable of transmitting data at 3,200 Mbit/s, thus providing 50 percent higher performance than the fastest LPDDR3 and consuming around 40 percent less energy at 1.1 volts.[14]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_DDR

    http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_announces_4gb_ddr4_mobile_dram-news-7444.php

    http://www.micron.com/products/dram/mobile-lpdram


    I think you could possibly see 2K-4K RAW processing on an iPad Pro... or even a small, headless, mobile companion iDevice with lots of SSD and RAM -- an iPhone/iPad (or other Camera) could provide capture capability. The companion device could be used with an iPad for storage and editing...

    My granddaughter uses an iPad 2 as a storage/editing companion device to her new Canon 60D -- very useful on a recent trip to Canada.


    Light Iron has written 2 iPad apps to help Video editors with dailies and playback.

    http://www.lightiron.com/products


    iMovie on an iPad can do a decent job of a first cut edit in the field -- and is exportable to Final Cut for further post processing.
  • Reply 10 of 48

    But ... But. 64 bit is just a gimmick! :D


    Your post got me thinking:

    I have a friend who is an executive at one of the broadcast news networks. The network uses an app similar to iMovie for rapid turnaround of live events, such as sports events...

    I've been watching the run-up to the super bowl -- and am interested how the "instant replay" highlight is evolving...


    Just for grins, I went back and review an "instant Replay" highlight I created with a early release of FCPX on a 2011 iMac...


    [VIDEO]


    This is a clip of my grandson, Dish (the goalie)...

    The highlight was done using a color shape mask -- and once setup it took less than 7 seconds (back then) to turn this around:

    Uploaded on Sep 18, 2011
    Dish's punt is highlighted with a color shape mask. Dish, inside the shape, is in full color. The background, outside the shape, is desaturated.


    I think that this could be done quite handily on, say, an iPad with an A8 (yadda, yadda)!


    BTW, Dish's punt went over the heads of the opposition -- to a teammate who scored a goal... Assist Dish... On a goal punt... uphill too!
  • Reply 11 of 48

    At this point, Apple should be seriously considering producing its own chips. Apple is big enough and the mobile revolution is not a fad. This would be a worthwhile investment for the company and could give them access to leading edge fabrication techniques. Currently they are at the mercy of chip suppliers in other countries and are constantly playing catch up to Intel.

  • Reply 12 of 48
    Don't know about cost, but apparently Micron and Sammy are the leaders in mobile DRAM


    And, Sammy has the latest breakthrough:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_DDR

    http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_announces_4gb_ddr4_mobile_dram-news-7444.php

    http://www.micron.com/products/dram/mobile-lpdram

    Not that I expect it to ever happen, but wouldn't it be hysterical if Apple BOUGHT Samsung's RAM & processor manufacturing divisions?


    I suspect that Apple does not want to get into the chip manufacturing or foundry business -- rather they might be interested in chip design!
  • Reply 13 of 48

    I'm going to go even further out on a limb by saying Apple will be lining up suppliers for the rumoured A9 chip 12 months from now.

     

    Signed

    Captain Obvious

  • Reply 14 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    I suspect that Apple does not want to get into the chip manufacturing or foundry business -- rather they might be interested in chip design!

     

    Actually, last year Apple bought part of Global Foundries' New York facilities and is preparing for production based on 14nm process. 2014 is the year of 20nm, so they will stick to TSMC and Samsung for A8, but the obvious plan is to manufacture the A9 SoC in 2015.

  • Reply 15 of 48
    capasicum wrote: »
    I suspect that Apple does not want to get into the chip manufacturing or foundry business -- rather they might be interested in chip design!

    Actually, last year Apple bought part of Global Foundries' New York facilities and is preparing for production based on 14nm process. 2014 is the year of 20nm, so they will stick to TSMC and Samsung for A8, but the obvious plan is to manufacture the A9 SoC in 2015.

    Are you sure that Apple acquired (got ownership) of those foundry facilities? AIR, Apple just contracted excess capacity for Sammy to use if/when the Sammy Texas capacity was exceeded.
  • Reply 16 of 48
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    I think you could possibly see 2K-4K RAW processing on an iPad Pro... or even a small, headless, mobile companion iDevice with lots of SSD and RAM -- an iPhone/iPad (or other Camera) could provide capture capability. The companion device could be used with an iPad for storage and editing...



    My granddaughter uses an iPad 2 as a storage/editing companion device to her new Canon 60D -- very useful on a recent trip to Canada.





    Light Iron has written 2 iPad apps to help Video editors with dailies and playback.



    http://www.lightiron.com/products





    iMovie on an iPad can do a decent job of a first cut edit in the field -- and is exportable to Final Cut for further post processing.

    Well I sold a DSLR lens when I realized I wasn't my DSLR recently, and bought an iPhone 5s.  I'll sell the DSLR body soon.  That means that I'm all in on mobile photography for the foreseeable future.

     

    iOS device RAW data is not available from Apple to developers, as far as I'm aware.  I've also read that this may be a good thing because of the corrective processing that is needed to produce acceptable images.  What is available is data that can easily be used to produce a TIFF file.  On my iPhone 5s, the typical uncompressed TIFF file is around 20-22MB.  That's a large file when you shoot on a regular basis.  If LZW lossless compression is used, the file typically comes out to 7-8MB.  As I'm sure that you can gather, for those of us working with TIFF, that compression is highly desirable.

     

    Now here's the problem, from what I've read from developers.  If there is not enough memory, a program will crash.  For iOS devices with 1.0GB of DRAM, that limit is about 9MP to operate safely when is comes to LZW compression.  The 9MP limit is usually not an issue because the rear camera is 8MP on a 5s.  The limit is more than double without that compression.

     

    LZW aside, there are still times when 1GB of DRAM is an issue.  If several editing programs are open at once, every edit needs to be saved because the OS' memory management is more concerned with managing memory than preserving unsaved edits.  That makes editing cumbersome.

     

    Now lets say that you want to shoot in TIFF, and stitch together images.  There are currently no stitching programs that I'm aware of that will save in TIFF.  But if they did, as I understand it, LZW compression just wouldn't be feasible on an iOS device with 1GB of DRAM or less.  Even if you don't care about LZW compression, good luck editing that 40MP image that you just stitched.  There is just not enough DRAM.

     

    So, for my needs, which are certainly in the minority, more DRAM would make life easier.

     

    All of the above was based on my life with the 8MP sensor.

     

    I don't know when, but I believe that Apple will go to 12.6 or 12.8 MP for the rear image sensors, which will increase the need for more DRAM.  Why that many pixels?  The pixel width for Digital Cinema Initiatives 4K video is 4,096 pixels.  If that sensor is also going to be used for still photography, then a 1.33 aspect ratio, like that currently used by Apple, makes sense.  That's 3,072 pixels high.  That gets you 12.6 MP.  If Apple wants to accommodate 4,096 x 3,112 for anamorphic cinema, then almost 12.8 MP is needed.

     

    With 64 bit architecture, 4GB DRAM could be an option if Apple allows it to be.  For me, the sooner the better.  If the A8 chip even brings just 2GB of DRAM, I'll be content.  4 GB and I'll be thrilled! 

  • Reply 17 of 48

    I think the more interesting thing about an A8 is not who makes it, but how well it performs.

     

    The A7 is already so far ahead of Samsung, Qualcomm & ARM that even their newest processors likely won't be able to catch up. And if Apple again doubles up on performance for the A8 things are going to look embarrassing for everyone else making ARM chips.

     

     

    Something I saw posted at another troll-infested site. But very relevant.

  • Reply 18 of 48
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,328member
    Quote:

    Now lets say that you want to shoot in TIFF, and stitch together images.  There are currently no stitching programs that I'm aware of that will save in TIFF.  But if they did, as I understand it, LZW compression just wouldn't be feasible on an iOS device with 1GB of DRAM or less.  Even if you don't care about LZW compression, good luck editing that 40MP image that you just stitched.  There is just not enough DRAM.


     

    There are ways around memory limitations in most cases if apps are designed right.

     

    If someone is editing the image onscreen at full resolution, they'll only be seeing a small part of it at any given time, so apps only need to keep that small chunk of the image in memory (plus a bit extra at the edges to ensure smooth scrolling) at any given time.  If someone zooms out to view the whole image, use a scaled down version of image which is lower resolution.  If they're saving it, do it in small chunks.

     

    Obviously, if a given type of image compression requires most or all of the image to be loaded in order to perform compression, then that won't be possible.  However, with most types of compression, it's possible to work with small chunks at a time.

  • Reply 19 of 48
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    Digitimes so we know it's fake but still:

    I'm in a quandary. I dislike samsung quite a bit and would rather TSMC get the earnings. But being a Texan- the A8 would be made in Austin. I think I'm still rooting for samsung here. God help me.
  • Reply 20 of 48
    imemberimember Posts: 247member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post





    Don't know about cost, but apparently Micron and Sammy are the leaders in mobile DRAM



    And, Sammy has the latest breakthrough:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_DDR



    http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_announces_4gb_ddr4_mobile_dram-news-7444.php



    http://www.micron.com/products/dram/mobile-lpdram

    But isn't the iPhone 1 GB Ram faster (or equal) than 3 GB Ram found in Samsung Galaxy nOTE 3? JUST like its Dual Core faster than their Quad Core. I think iPhone will have 4 GB of Ram this year.. that means Samsung premium phones must have around 8 GB  to compete with iPhone

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