Samsung wins contract to build 14-nanometer Apple 'A9' chips - report

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited December 2014
Though the A8 chip was recently unveiled in the iPhone 6, Apple is said to already be lining up deals for next year's presumed "A9" processor, which will reportedly be manufactured with a 14-nanometer process by longtime partner Samsung.




Samsung is expected to begin producing 14-nanometer application processors for Apple, Qualcomm and AMD around the end of the year, according to ZDNet. The South Korean company has built custom mobile chips for Apple since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, but recently has seen its position reduced.

Prior to the launch of the iPhone 6, Samsung manufactured all of Apple's low-power ARM processors at its factory in Austin, Tex. But starting with the A8 CPU in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Apple brought rival chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. into the fray.

Samsung is said to still be supplying about 40 percent of Apple A8 chips for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. But that's still a big change from previous-generation chips, when Samsung was responsible for all manufacturing.

As for the anticipated next-generation "A9" chip, rumors had previously pegged 2015 for a 14-nanometer ARM CPU debut. This year's 64-bit A8 chip is manufactured through a 20-nanometer process, which itself was a reduction from the previous A7 processor.

Smaller processors are more efficient, resulting in power savings that can allow devices like the iPhone to see improved battery life, even as the chips themselves become more powerful and capable. The Apple-designed A8 chip has been found through independent benchmarks to outperform the competition while still offering excellent battery life in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 98
    xixoxixo Posts: 430member
    Followed by "Samsung to exit unprofitable smartphone business in 2015, focus on chip manufacturing instead"
  • Reply 2 of 98
    Another process shrink? Besides, why not just use 16nm from TSMC?
  • Reply 3 of 98
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    Another process shrink? Besides, why not just use 16nm from TSMC?

    Because they're are secretly working on the 12nm chips of course ...:D
  • Reply 4 of 98
    Baloney.

    Why is AI giving this story prominence? Two narratives her. First, that Samsung is still producing some of the A8. Do you really believe that is this were true, such device would not have miraculously found its way to the tear down folks.

    Second, there is no proof that apple has an agreement for the A9. Parse wat the Samsung exec said, 'once' is the keyword. Wishful thinking. The way this is being pusher is the implication that Samsung will be privy to apple's plans and given their proclivity at imitation, android will still be relevant.

    Gebbels will be proud. Repeat a fantasy over and over....
  • Reply 5 of 98
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    fjose1929 wrote: »
    Baloney.

    Why is AI giving this story prominence? Two narratives her. First, that Samsung is still producing some of the A8. Do you really believe that is this were true, such device would not have miraculously found its way to the tear down folks.

    Second, there is no proof that apple has an agreement for the A9. Parse wat the Samsung exec said, 'once' is the keyword. Wishful thinking. The way this is being pusher is the implication that Samsung will be privy to apple's plans and given their proclivity at imitation, android will still be relevant.

    Gebbels will be proud. Repeat a fantasy over and over....

    Well I hope you are correct.
  • Reply 6 of 98
    mubailimubaili Posts: 442member
    Keep your friend close but keep your enemy closer.
  • Reply 7 of 98
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,724member

    Okay, so what is the current art in 64 bit processors besides Apple's offering? I've lost sight of what other phone manufacturers are offering currently and into the near future, considering that Apple is now second generation 64 bit shipped. Is Samsung shipping anything from a 14 nm die?

  • Reply 8 of 98
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,077member
    Samsung producing chips doesn't mean they know what Apple is up to, for that they would have to reverse engineer a phone and software from a chip.
    The chip doesn't have that many secrets: RAM, GPU and ARM architecture are all third party contributions.
    The worst parts about Samsung doing the chips is that they earn money which they can use to subsidize their competing products.

    That said TSMC likely just doesn't have the capacity to make all the chips for the AppleWatch, AppleTV, iPhone, iPad, iPod

    So Apple is well advised to keep things that are more telling, like their monolithic watch chip out of Samsung's grasp.
    If Apple uses TSMC to make the parts that have critical IP in them, and spread around manufacturing of well understood components to prevent production bottlenecks they are doing exactly the right thing, and Cook is known for having a great grip on the supply chain.
  • Reply 9 of 98
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    Great - I may get a 6 PLus with a faster chip and sturdier chasis. Keep it coming.
  • Reply 10 of 98
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    I would say BS, Apple worked for the last 3 yrs to design them out, why would they go back, and process shrinks is not a good reason, Apple is not on the bleeding edge of process technologies and they are so far ahead they can afford to wait for TSMC to catch up.

    I still do not believe Samsung has any of the A8 business, too complicated to maintain two diffferent fab processes. I think Samsung has 40% of Apple total processor business which include the A7 and A6 in the older phones and Apple is expecting the A8 to be 60% of their business going forward. Not one has turned up any A8 Chips from Samsung
  • Reply 11 of 98
    Hard to know where my allegiance should be--Made in America (by Samsung) or Made by TSMC (in Taiwan).
  • Reply 12 of 98
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member

    Amazing how fast spam hits the web. ZDNet seems to have been the first to announce this then AI, 9to5Mac, and MacRumors have jumped on the bandwagon. ZDNet says: "Kim Ki-nam, president of the Korean electronic giant’s semiconductor business and head of System LSI business, told reporters at Samsung’s headquarters in Seoul that once the company begins to supply Apple with chips using its latest technology, profits “will improve positively”." Of course, everything Kim says is true so of course we should expect this information to be true as well. Samsung is hurting where it hurts the most, in their pocketbook and they are saying anything to keep investors placated. Maybe this information is true but until I hear it from Apple, I won't believe it. 

  • Reply 13 of 98
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Whomever can do the job is the one I want Apple to use, but I find it interesting that we're already hearing about another process shrink when Apple has doing one every year for several years now and is ahead of everyone else in the industry. My guess is this won't happen in 2015, but 2016, which 20-nanometer holding next year with some advancements in other areas of the A9 chip.

    That said, if they are truly ready for 14-nm production in 2015 I'd think the ?Watch would be the first place I'd want to it since this is where battery life needs the most help and the sales would likely be low enough to make the yields sustainable.



    PS: How is it [@]sog35[/@] gets banned but not [@]pazuzu[/@] when only one of those people constantly trolls this forum.
  • Reply 14 of 98
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,609member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    Another process shrink? Besides, why not just use 16nm from TSMC?



    Yield, power, cost.

     

    Heck, if Apple took your stance, an iPhone would weigh two hundred pounds and it would be full of vacuum tubes. You'd have to be one of a lucky 750 people on this planet to get one, since that's all they would be able to make.

  • Reply 15 of 98

    If Apple is following Intel's model(which is likely according to Anandtech), the A9 next year will be a whole new architecture (tock) and not a process shrink (tick). I'm sure it is extremely tough to do both at the same time even if Apple has some of the best chip designers in the world. 

  • Reply 16 of 98
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by pazuzu View Post



    Great - I may get a 6 PLus with a faster chip and sturdier chasis. Keep it coming.



    Is your iPhone 6 Plus not fast enough or sturdy enough for you?

  • Reply 17 of 98
    nofeernofeer Posts: 2,422member
    After the eBay Samsung mess
    This to prevent Samsung stock from COLLAPSING
    it's for defense
    6 and 6s and using no Samsung parts
    Massive threat to a already panicking Samsung
    SJ REVENGE
    So who of you want to invest in Samsung
    BEFORE they spin off mobile unit
    SJ REVENGE
  • Reply 18 of 98
    zoffdinozoffdino Posts: 192member
    I always wonder how these guys can shrink a process node every year when Intel have so much trouble doing the same. Intel is not a newbie to this game. They have been playing it for 40 years. Is there something that fundamentally makes shrinking an Intel CPU much harder than an ARM one?
  • Reply 19 of 98
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    solipsismx wrote: »
    Whomever can do the job is the one I want Apple to use, but I find it interesting that we're already hearing about another process shrink when Apple has doing one every year for several years now and is ahead of everyone else in the industry. My guess is this won't happen in 2015, but 2016, which 20-nanometer holding next year with some advancements in other areas of the A9 chip.

    That said, if they are truly ready for 14-nm production in 2015 I'd think the ?Watch would be the first place I'd want to it since this is where battery life needs the most help and the sales would likely be low enough to make the yields sustainable.



    PS: How is it [@]sog35[/@] gets banned but not [@]pazuzu[/@] when only one of those people constantly trolls this forum.

    Why was [@]sog35[/@] banned?
  • Reply 20 of 98
    solsunsolsun Posts: 763member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fjose1929 View Post



    Baloney.



    Why is AI giving this story prominence? Two narratives her. First, that Samsung is still producing some of the A8. Do you really believe that is this were true, such device would not have miraculously found its way to the tear down folks.



    Second, there is no proof that apple has an agreement for the A9. Parse wat the Samsung exec said, 'once' is the keyword. Wishful thinking. The way this is being pusher is the implication that Samsung will be privy to apple's plans and given their proclivity at imitation, android will still be relevant.



    Gebbels will be proud. Repeat a fantasy over and over....

     

    I've no idea if true or not, but I have read from multiple sources (CNN to Forbes to Wikipedia) that Samsung is still producing 40% of A8 Chips...  Seems ludicrous with all of Apple's resources ($) that they are still tapping it's biggest competitor for components.  Can they not manufacture their own chip designs?

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