TSMC confirmed as manufacturer of Apple's 20nm A8 processor

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2014
According to a report on Friday, Apple's latest 64-bit A8 system-on-a-chip, currently powering the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, is built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., not longtime partner Samsung.




Less than a day after Apple's latest iPhones made their worldwide debut, the team at Chipworks on Friday disassembled both models to take a closer look at the components inside, revealing an A8 processor fabricated by TSMC.

The finding confirms rumors from last year claiming Apple would switched away from Samsung foundries to TSMC, which employs a 20-nanometer CMOS process for the latest-generation A-series SoC. According to Chipworks, the A8's contacted gate pitch of around 90nm is consistent with Qualcomm's MDM9235, a chip known to be fabricated by TSMC.

Other substantial finds include previously unannounced NFC controller made by NXP that dates back to 2012. Chipworks cites insiders as saying the design was made exclusively for Apple, meaning the Cupertino company has had access to the silicon for at least 18 months.

In addition, Apple tapped InvenSense for the new iPhones' six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, unseating previous supplier STMicroelectronics. Texas Instruments also makes an appearance with a haptics driver used to control the vibrator unit.

Sony is once again supplying the iSight chip, which in the case of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus is the company's Exmor RS back-illuminated CMOS image sensor (CIS). As previously announced, the chip features 1.5-micron pixels on a die size of 4.8 mm-by-6.1 mm. Further, Chipworks discovered Apple's "Focus Pixels," or phase detection system, are implemented in the green channel.

The public got its first look at the components used to build the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in a pair of teardowns late Thursday night.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 112
    See what happens, Samsung, when you bite the hand that feeds you?
  • Reply 2 of 112
    Wow. Nothing like losing a few billion dollars in revenue and having them go straight into the pockets of a major competitor.

    So not only will Samsung revenues go down due to iPhone 6/6+ stealing sales from the Note 4/Galaxy S5, but they're going to decrease over the A8 processor.

    I predict the next two earnings calls are going to look pretty bad for Samsung.
  • Reply 3 of 112
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    It has other run on effects as well. It's a significant competitive blow to no longer have access to their primary competitor's detailed chip schematics. Effectively putting them in the dark about which direction their competitor will be moving in, as well as not having access to the wealth of intellectual property that comes with an ever-advancing chip design.

    That's before considering the loss of income and investment scale that comes from producing such a high volume of the 'latest and greatest' mobile chip design.
  • Reply 4 of 112
    Oh no!

    How will Samsung make good smart device products now?

    Guess they'll have to churn out more Gear and Edge "innovations" lol

    Can you say downhill in a hurry."

    They make great tvs. And their washer/dryer units are ok.

    But when they don't blatantly copy Apple in the smart device realm, they just plain suck.
  • Reply 5 of 112
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,470member

    Good thing the S5 is waterproof. Many tears shed in Gangnam Town.

  • Reply 6 of 112
    This is just so fantastic.

    This is how this whole Samsung thing likely went down (I am a lawyer):

    Samsung is operated by greedy seemingly unethical sleaze (just read reports of their evil doings in Korea ..e.g. the key shareholders).

    They had the golden goose - Apple / Steve Jobs - and golden contract/relationship - guaranteed BILLIONS in revenue and profit for decades.

    But their sleazy scummy character prevailed - why don't we stick it to Mr. Jobs/Apple and take all the profit/revenue from the phone "we make the darned processor, we are the center of the universe".

    Problem - they got it all wrong. The center of the Universe was Steve Jobs and Apple - and remains Apple - Tim Cook - and the Apple team of Engineers creativity and direction set up by Steve Jobs.

    Koreans tell their lawyer to deal with it - drag it out - we will make billions in meantime and win since we are the center of the Universe. Lawyers really believe they are STUPID/ARROGANT/SLEEZE - but they do what they are paid to do and required to do - defend them and represent to the best that they can with an impossible situation - because they likely know they are just arrogant non creative yuck who are not really the center of the Universe.

    Well I give a grand cheer to Tim Cook and Apple today - TSMC is now an outstanding partner with Apple - and I bet they would never be like Samsung unethical scum, which is unique.

    This story marks a pending celebration. The outstanding new ecosystem update by Apple, over the top new iphone/pending pads/watch .. Samsung rip-off products will not sell at all henceforth and they will make chump change on processors et al.

    Bottom line - I see Samscum in serious financial problems shortly%u2026 firings will commence -[ they will need to downsize. Stock will plunge.

    Samsung is the most ungrateful disgusting organization that I have seen in my years (possible equal - Google with betrayal - directorship and copycat of the actual phone) --- its great that they will be the example in business schools for decades of bad business practice
  • Reply 7 of 112

    Interesting. That was analogous to Apple inviting Microsoft over to learn about their GUI at code level with support engineers and machines for testing back in the 80s.

  • Reply 8 of 112
    Interesting development. I am not sure this is intended to punish SAMSUNG, my bet is Apple wants to diversify its supply chain, enhance competition, access other technology, as well as enhance protection of its chip set IP. It would not surprise me to see SAMSUNG back at some future date and/or split production. Whatever problems Apple has had with SAMSUNG's phone/mobile division, their components have been sound, advanced, and met huge demand surges. These are more,rare than appreciated.

    One of the fundamental penalties SAMSUNG paid was not merely production, but technology investment by Apple in their suppliers. Apple is willing to make cutting edge production, materialism and technology investments with supply chain partners. This is many $billion investment that allow the supply chain partners to leap frog the current state of the art while giving Apple competitive advantage until larger community of manufacturers can catch up. This is a big lost opportunity for SAMSUNG and will play out as Chinese phone and component supplies ramp up.
  • Reply 9 of 112
    nhtnht Posts: 4,487member
    Obviously Samsung knew they didn't get the A8. I guess they are hoping that TSMC has issues like they have in the past and Apple has to return for the next process node hop.
  • Reply 10 of 112
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,415member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 9secondko View Post



    Oh no!



    How will Samsung make good smart device products now?

    Ummm, start buying chips from TSMC?

  • Reply 11 of 112
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,240member
    This is pretty huge.
  • Reply 12 of 112
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member

    I wonder...

     

    When you take into consideration the low profit margins on their phones, lost business with Apple, marketing fees ($14 billion plus for 2013), legal fees, money owed to Apple for said legal action, exactly how much did Samsung's Mobile division make in the last year or so?

     

    It's a good thing their product portfolio is diversified.

     

    At least, with Apple eating into their high-end handsets and Xiaomi about to eat into the low-end, the future is looking bright.

     

    arcasm

  • Reply 13 of 112
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,303member
    gtr wrote: »
    I wonder...

    When you take into consideration the low profit margins on their phones, lost business with Apple, marketing fees ($14 billion plus for 2013), legal fees, money owed to Apple for said legal action, exactly how much did Samsung's Mobile division make in the last year or so?

    It's a good thing their product portfolio is diversified.

    At least, with Apple eating into their high-end handsets and Xiaomi about to eat into the low-end, the future is looking bright.

    <img alt="" class="lightbox-enabled" data-id="49181" data-type="61" src="http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/49181/width/200/height/400/flags/LL" style="; width: 29px; height: 33px">
    arcasm

    A dish best served cold. :smokey:
  • Reply 14 of 112

    I am glad that Samsung wont be benefiting too much from Apple's record breaking iPhone profits. Screw Samsung! 

  • Reply 15 of 112
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    I wonder how many processors NOT made by Samsung, Apple will sell over this weekend?
  • Reply 16 of 112

    I've read other places that Apple will return to Samsung for the 14 nm process in next year's phones. Yes, this is a lot of money lost by Samsung this year, but I agree with the poster above that Apple is diversifying, and that this is not really a punishment of Samsung, just a solid business choice. Next year Samsung has the edge in going to 14 nm that TSMC doesn't have.

     

    Either way, it's good for Apple, and us. :-)

  • Reply 17 of 112
    I just hope their fabrication talents are better than their ability to design a corporate logo.


    700


    PS: Did Motorola copy them for the Moto 360 design?¡

    A dish best served cold. :smokey:

    Ice cream is a dish best served cold. :D
  • Reply 18 of 112
    sacto joe wrote: »
    See what happens, Samsung, when you bite the hand that feeds you?

    EO4PwH3.gif
  • Reply 19 of 112
    nhtnht Posts: 4,487member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by GregoriusM View Post

     

    I've read other places that Apple will return to Samsung for the 14 nm process in next year's phones. Yes, this is a lot of money lost by Samsung this year, but I agree with the poster above that Apple is diversifying, and that this is not really a punishment of Samsung, just a solid business choice. Next year Samsung has the edge in going to 14 nm that TSMC doesn't have.

     

    Either way, it's good for Apple, and us. :-)


     

    There's only rumors at this point (and too many of those are from DigiTimes) that Samsung and GF has the A9 at 14nm. Samsung had promised 20nm in the first half of 2013 and didn't deliver.  14nm in 2015 strikes me as iffy for full rate production in the numbers Apple and Qualcomm wants.  

  • Reply 20 of 112
    Don't get too excited - Samsung may well end up having more advanced fabrication processes than TSMC for the A9 chipset and could end up fabricating the A9 instead of TSMC.
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