Apple affirmed to return to Samsung for 14nm 'A9' chips for next iPhones, iPads

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited February 2015
Yet another publication has reported that Apple will once again rely on Samsung for its next generation of A-series processors, returning to a fierce rival rather than expanding its relationship with TSMC.




Samsung will indeed build the 14-nanometer design expected to be adopted by the company's next-generation processor, expected to be called the "A9" chip, Re/code reaffirmed on Wednesday. Citing people with knowledge of the situation, the publication reiterated what numerous rumors have stated before: Samsung will indeed be in charge of building the chips expected to power Apple's 2015 iPhones and iPads.

The main reason is said to be the 14-nanometer manufacturing process, where Samsung apparently has a leg up on rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Samsung is said to have a technical advantage over TSMC, providing 14-nanometer chips for Apple's next-generation chip design.
Apple and TSMC were rumored to partner for years, and that finally became a reality last fall with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both powered by the A8 CPU. TSMC is said to have handled the majority of A8 production.

Apple's alliance with TSMC was widely anticipated because of the rift that developed between the iPhone maker and Samsung, its chief rival in the mobile space. In addition to its lineup of smartphones, tablets and other portable devices, the company also has a separate division based in Austin, Tex., that builds the custom processors that power Apple's iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV.

In fact, it was said in December that Samsung had already begun building the first "A9" chips with a 14-nanometer process as part of a trial run for Apple. TSMC is said to have attempted to compete with Samsung with its own 16-nanometer process, but allegedly lost out for Apple's 2015 devices.

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.

Reports first surfaced in October claiming that Samsung had won a contract to build 14nm "A9" chips for Apple. Other companies expected to use application processors with that process are Qualcomm and AMD.

Prior to the launch of the iPhone 6, Samsung manufactured all of Apple's low-power ARM processors at its factory in Austin. But starting with the A8 CPU in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, TSMC was said to have taken over the bulk of responsibility, though exactly how much is in doubt.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    People complain that Apple gives Samsung its business, but both Samsung and Apple are acting rationally by working together wherever they both benefit.

    Until Intel opens up its fabs to Apple (ha ha!) its great for Apple that Samsung's expertise in chip foundries is available to help crush Android's (and Samsung's) mobile business profitability!
  • Reply 2 of 34
    nevermark wrote: »
    People complain that Apple gives Samsung its business, but both Samsung and Apple are acting rationally by working together wherever they both benefit.

    Plus Samsung Semiconductor is a different division from Samsung Mobile. Apple gets along with the former, not the latter.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Headlines like this make it sound like Samsung is doing Apple a favour.

    I see it the other way around.

    I mean, it's not like Samsung's Mobile Division is raking in the cash.

    Am I right?

    Am I right?

    Yuk yuk yuk...
  • Reply 4 of 34
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,023member
    What's interesting here is with this process, Apple has caught up to Intel. Now, there will be no easy performance gains left for a few years, except for smaller ones from the improvement of this 14nm process. It will force Apple, and other SoC manufacturers to concentrate on improving the designs as much as can be done on the same process.

    10nm will like y be at least another two years away, possibly longer, if the same delays that plagued 14nm happen again with 10.
  • Reply 5 of 34
    inklinginkling Posts: 731member
    Glad to see Apple and Samsung can still do business together. At times the high-tech industry behave like a bunch of third-grade boys engaging in legal disputes that like like 'well you mama wears army boots' name calling. There's a serious need to grow up and simply compete on price and quality.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,023member
    sog35 wrote: »
    No doubt.

    Especially now since Samsung is ZERO threat to the iPhone business.

    Ah, never say never. That's what they were saying about Apple a couple of years ago. Apple will have to stay on their toes.

    ARM just announced the new 72 cores, with performance they say will be double current models. Let's hope Apple has already jumped on that for a late 2015 release. New devices using those designs are expected during early, mid 2016. But Apple often gets a jump because of their own variation.
  • Reply 7 of 34
    melgross wrote: »
    What's interesting here is with this process, Apple has caught up to Intel. Now, there will be no easy performance gains left for a few years, except for smaller ones from the improvement of this 14nm process. It will force Apple, and other SoC manufacturers to concentrate on improving the designs as much as can be done on the same process.

    10nm will like y be at least another two years away, possibly longer, if the same delays that plagued 14nm happen again with 10.

    Apple is OK. They've already invested in making their cores more powerful while everyone else was just ramping the clock and adding more cores. The A7 is still the fastest ARM 64bit core vs clock speed in the world. With a new process Apple can easily add cores and/or increase clock to get a significant performance boost for the A9. Everyone else has to look at making more efficient cores, a much more difficult task than clock/core count.

    melgross wrote: »
    Ah, never say never. That's what they were saying about Apple a couple of years ago. Apple will have to stay on their toes.

    ARM just announced the new 72 cores, with performance they say will be double current models. Let's hope Apple has already jumped on that for a late 2015 release. New devices using those designs are expected during early, mid 2016. But Apple often gets a jump because of their own variation.

    A72 due in 2016. Even if it's early 2016 it'll still be 3-6 months behind the A9. It probably won't look so impressive once we see the A9.

    And the biggest issue? There won't be any 64bit Android software to take advantage of the A72.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    solipsismysolipsismy Posts: 5,099member
    If you would have told me a few years ago that we'd be at 64-bit 14nm ARM chips in the iPhone in 2015 I wouldn't have thought it likely.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,449member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post





    Plus Samsung Semiconductor is a different division from Samsung Mobile. Apple gets along with the former, not the latter.



    The problem, though, is the suspicion that Samsung Semiconductor is sliding Samsung Mobile proprietary data about Apple’s plans under the table. Samsung denies this but can they be trusted?

  • Reply 10 of 34
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    lkrupp wrote: »
    The problem, though, is the suspicion that Samsung Semiconductor is sliding Samsung Mobile proprietary data about Apple’s plans under the table. Samsung denies this but can they be trusted?

    Of course they can be trusted.

    Trusted to be untrustworthy, that is.

    ????
  • Reply 11 of 34
    jexusjexus Posts: 373member

    Called it months ago. Not the apple samsung part, but certainly TSMC being....well....TSMC and screwing up yet another node shift.

  • Reply 12 of 34
    rs9rs9 Posts: 68member
    What Percentage of profit made by Samsung Mobility is what Apple pays them?
  • Reply 13 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by RS9 View Post



    What Percentage of profit made by Samsung Mobility is what Apple pays them?

     

    None.  Samsung divides up earnings by division.

     

    In the holiday quarter Samsung's operating profit was 1.96tw from Mobile, down from 5.47tw last year.  

    Their semiconductor profit was 2.7tw, up from 1.99tw last year.

    (tw = trillion won)

     

    So their semiconductor business (selling components to Apple mostly) is more profitable than their mobile division.  

  • Reply 14 of 34
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    I wonder what it cost Samsun to win the business back.

    The negotiations probably went something like this...,

    we took the memory business from you and gave it to Hynix and San Disk, How did that work out for you
    we took the display business from you and gave to sharp and LG, how did that work out for you'
    we took the processor business from you and gave it to TSMC, how did that work out for you
    We sued you and now owe us $1B, which you have not paid yet
    Lastly we kicking your ass in the high end cell phone business causing your margin to suffer.

    So do you want to give us processors for free until you work off that debt?
  • Reply 15 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     



    The problem, though, is the suspicion that Samsung Semiconductor is sliding Samsung Mobile proprietary data about Apple’s plans under the table. Samsung denies this but can they be trusted?


    I doubt it.   Given the fact that it was Samsung Semi's group that put Mobile onto the iPhone capabilities in the first place (not at a chip level but at the UI level through the tech briefings they got).

     

    You don't build custom chips for your clients very long if you're leaking your client information to one of their competitors, especially within your corporate umbrella.  The Group President of Samsung Semi is likely hammering that message  home.  They want everyone's business and they want to keep it.   Apple, through it's use of TSMC is basically telling Samsung, 'we have options'  and leverages that every contract on price and on 'material breach' penalties.

  • Reply 16 of 34
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    lkrupp wrote: »

    The problem, though, is the suspicion that Samsung Semiconductor is sliding Samsung Mobile proprietary data about Apple’s plans under the table. Samsung denies this but can they be trusted?

    This is not question of whether or not it is happening, it is happening, can not tell you how many time I meet with a Samsung Rep only to have them tell me what my competiotrs are doing. Not only does Samsung share internallly they tell competitors on the outside what is going on in other companies. Samsung SEMI business does business with everty major competitor in the market and know exactly what they are all doing, this information is being shared internally with all divisions of Samsung, this why they react so fast to anything the competition is doing. They are more than a fast follower they know months before the public knows and is already working on copy if it make sense.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

    …can not tell you how many time I meet with a Samsung Rep only to have them tell me what my competiotrs are doing.

     

    Tell them everything. LIE THROUGH YOUR TEETH. Make the despicable wretches spend billions on competition to nonexistent products.

  • Reply 18 of 34
    though this is very likely a credible rumour, if apple did not affirm it- then the headline is terribly misleading.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,073member

    Would would happen if Samsung stared Apple down and raised their chip price by 50% seeing as it's a superior quality. Who would blink first?

  • Reply 20 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post





    This is not question of whether or not it is happening, it is happening, can not tell you how many time I meet with a Samsung Rep only to have them tell me what my competiotrs are doing. Not only does Samsung share internallly they tell competitors on the outside what is going on in other companies. Samsung SEMI business does business with everty major competitor in the market and know exactly what they are all doing, this information is being shared internally with all divisions of Samsung, this why they react so fast to anything the competition is doing. They are more than a fast follower they know months before the public knows and is already working on copy if it make sense.



    i agree with TheOtherGeoff, if as a manufacturing arm of a company you cannot keep your mouth shut, you are breaching contract. After the sapphire fiasco, i think we know apple's contracts are not for big mouthed companies. i live in Korea and have a few friends working high up in samsung mobile and samsung chemical- it is not very easy to get details out of them.

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