Intel plots attack on Apple's partnership with TSMC, looks to build A-series chips by 2018

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2016
As Intel looks to muscle its way into the smartphone CPU business, the chipmaker has reportedly set its sights on competing with TSMC, the firm currently responsible for the A-series processors found in the iPhone, iPad and more.




Citing industry experts, Nikkei reported on Friday that Intel is looking to become a CPU supplier for Apple's iOS-based devices by 2018. Insiders view Intel as "likely" to earn orders from Apple in the next two to three years.

In addition to Intel's deep pockets, the company is also benefitted by the fact that it is U.S.-based. An alignment between Apple and Intel for custom A-series chips would allow for a key component of the iPhone to be made in America -- a goal Apple has been open about for years.

Intel first announced earlier this month that it had reached an agreement with rival ARM Holdings to produce 10-nanometer ARM chips at its advanced fabrication facilities. The Intel-ARM partnership opens the door to new foundry options beyond Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung, the two key players in the history of Apple's custom A-series processors.

A switch before 2018 would be unlikely -- TSMC is said to already be working on the design for Apple's next-generation 10-nanometer "A11" processor, expected to go into production in 2017. But beyond that, industry experts see Intel muscling its way into Apple's supply chain and gaining a key partner.

Outside of CPUs, Intel has already made gains with Apple's anticipated "iPhone 7," expected to debut in a matter of weeks. It's been said that Intel modems won a 50 percent share in the next-generation handset, taking away from Apple's longtime supplier Qualcomm.




Apple designs its own custom silicon for the processors found in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and more. It then contracts out those ARM-based designs to partners who handle the chipmaking duties.

Apple has transitioned between chip partners before. Until a few years ago, Samsung was the exclusive producer of A-series chips, but now TSMC and Samsung currently split responsibility for the A9 processor found in the iPhone 6s series and iPhone SE.

Apple has gradually tried to reduce its dependence on Samsung -- which sells competing phones, tablets, and computers. The results have been varied, given that the company is one of the few manufacturers that can keep up with demand for products like iPhones.

But industry experts noted that Apple has no such rivalry with Intel, and the companies already work together for the CPUs that power Apple's entire Mac lineup.
repressthis
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    Cue: People who don't read the article and think Apple will be switching to Intel chips for the iPhone.

  • Reply 2 of 36
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,569member
    designr said:
    Cue: People who don't read the article and think Apple will be switching to Intel chips for the iPhone.

    I think AI, for once, has been very clear in the title. 


    Deelronronnbaconstangrepressthisjustadcomics
  • Reply 3 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    I think it should be noted that Samsung produced chips for Apple in its vast Texas chip plant. So they were being made here for years. TSMC is supposed to have a plant in upstate NY, but I haven't followed through to see whether that's correct.
    cnocbuirepressthisjustadcomics
  • Reply 4 of 36
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,507member
    designr said:
    Cue: People who don't read the article and think Apple will be switching to Intel chips for the iPhone.

    And what did you get out of the article?
    ronnrepressthisjustadcomics
  • Reply 5 of 36
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,909member
    If true (and my hunch is that it's true), this is a huge strategic shift for Intel. I'm sure it's not easy for a lot of Intel folks to swallow their pride and get into the foundry business, but it's not clear what else they could have done (other than watch their manufacturing lead whither away, followed by profits)

    ronnbaconstangrepressthisjustadcomics
  • Reply 6 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    melgross said:
    designr said:
    Cue: People who don't read the article and think Apple will be switching to Intel chips for the iPhone.

    And what did you get out of the article?
    That Intel may end up manufacturing Apple-designed A-series ARM chips. What did you get from it?
    repressthis
  • Reply 7 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    Rayz2016 said:
    designr said:
    Cue: People who don't read the article and think Apple will be switching to Intel chips for the iPhone.

    I think AI, for once, has been very clear in the title.
    Good point. I was bouncing back and forth between MacRumors and AI. The MR headline is tad more ambiguous.

  • Reply 8 of 36
    designrdesignr Posts: 502member
    blastdoor said:
    If true (and my hunch is that it's true), this is a huge strategic shift for Intel. I'm sure it's not easy for a lot of Intel folks to swallow their pride and get into the foundry business, but it's not clear what else they could have done (other than watch their manufacturing lead whither away, followed by profits)

    True and interesting. Has chipmaking now become commoditized?
  • Reply 9 of 36
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,945member
    Writing is on wall soon as Intel acquired rights to build ARM chips. By 2018, Intel will have 10nm fab perfected and currently building cellular modem and Wifi chips, Intel will be able to provide one stop fab for Apple with A-processor,GPU, Modem, WiFi, lightening, audio, etc integrated on single chip. This gives Apple alternate sources of chip fabrication and also can demand competitive pricing from TSMC,Intel,Samsung and probably Global foundries.
    edited August 2016 designrrepressthisargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 36
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,011member
    If Intel becomes a commodity chip foundry, will they be monitored to make sure they don't steal chip designs from Apple and others? What's to keep them from simply "using" (yes, stealing) the chip designs they will have the engineering specs for? I've always been worried about Samsung stealing Apple's designs and hope that the US DoJ will go after Intel if they do steal Apple's designs. Of course, the DoJ hates Apple so they'd probably let Intel steal the designs and blame Apple for not protecting them or some BS.

    On the other hand, if Intel becomes an ARM foundry, would Apple try and figure out an agreement with Intel that allows Apple and Intel to co-design and produce desktop CPUs or SoC systems that would allow multi-core (6+) A-series CPUs with more powerful GPUs (AMD/Nvidia/?) that would actually compete with Intel's (slow to come to market) desktop CPUs? Removing the power and heat restrictions on the A-series should allow for faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs. I'm not sure Apple is really contemplating changing everything to their A-series but who knows, it might happen? As for building everything in the USA, this would only happen if Apple could design their mobile devices to be 98% robot assembled. This would negate the benefit of the Chinese work force. Of course, Apple still needs China for raw materials.

    disclaimer: I could care less about what Trump wants but I would mind seeing more American companies reap the benefits of Apple's production chain. Of course, with robots building everything, the US will need to figure out how to deal with even more unemployment, which also means lack of spending, hurting Apple's bottom line.
  • Reply 11 of 36
    Every time I read about Intel possibly becoming a supplier of iPhone components I have a bad feeling that letting Intel in will be problematic for Apple. Sticking with TSMC or investing in AMD might very well be the better choices for Apple. 
    palomine
  • Reply 12 of 36
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,756member
    blastdoor said:
    If true (and my hunch is that it's true), this is a huge strategic shift for Intel. I'm sure it's not easy for a lot of Intel folks to swallow their pride and get into the foundry business, but it's not clear what else they could have done (other than watch their manufacturing lead whither away, followed by profits)

    Actually Intel has been in the foundry business for a long time now.   It has however been high emended stuff for FPGA  suppliers and so forth. It will be interesting to see if Intel can compete at the price levels these chip makers pursue.  

    The other issue here is if TSMC's stacked chip tech pans out and is used successfully by Apple I don't think Intel has a chance in hell of competing.    

    The other thing that bothers me about this article is that it still sings the disproven song that Apple is trying to get away from Samsung.   Apple hasn't made  an effort to get away frommSamsung rather they have made an effort to find the best manufacture possible for their hardware.  To that end Samsung and TSMC are competing very aggressively.  
  • Reply 13 of 36
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,756member
    rob53 said:
    If Intel becomes a commodity chip foundry, will they be monitored to make sure they don't steal chip designs from Apple and others? What's to keep them from simply "using" (yes, stealing) the chip designs they will have the engineering specs for? I've always been worried about Samsung stealing Apple's designs and hope that the US DoJ will go after Intel if they do steal Apple's designs. Of course, the DoJ hates Apple so they'd probably let Intel steal the designs and blame Apple for not protecting them or some BS.

    On the other hand, if Intel becomes an ARM foundry, would Apple try and figure out an agreement with Intel that allows Apple and Intel to co-design and produce desktop CPUs or SoC systems that would allow multi-core (6+) A-series CPUs with more powerful GPUs (AMD/Nvidia/?) that would actually compete with Intel's (slow to come to market) desktop CPUs? Removing the power and heat restrictions on the A-series should allow for faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs. I'm not sure Apple is really contemplating changing everything to their A-series but who knows, it might happen? As for building everything in the USA, this would only happen if Apple could design their mobile devices to be 98% robot assembled. This would negate the benefit of the Chinese work force. Of course, Apple still needs China for raw materials.

    disclaimer: I could care less about what Trump wants but I would mind seeing more American companies reap the benefits of Apple's production chain. Of course, with robots building everything, the US will need to figure out how to deal with even more unemployment, which also means lack of spending, hurting Apple's bottom line.
    I think you are a bit off the tracks here.   Intel isn't likely to steal any bodies designs.  In the case of ARM processors and Apples unique designs theft would be so obvious that Intel would be able to hide it.  

    As as for co designing  chips I would imagine Apple has some input already with all chips that connect to the A series processors.  It should be noted that some chips have Apple specific part numbers.  As for what Apple will engineer into the A series chips who knows, the next process shrink doubles the space available to them.  GPU performance is a given and another core will likely happen but I suspect sometime soon we will see Apple trying to leave the rest of the industry behind.  In that regard I'm expecting hardware to support AI/machine learning, functionality.  That might happen in an obvious way or they might sneak the functionality into the GPU.   Apple will be releasing initial APIs for machine learning in iOS 10, so I suspect there is a long term plan here.   

    As fir Trump he is a hard guy to like but I look at it this way the democrats have demonstrated that they don't deserve to be in office.  Obama specifically has fanned the flames of racial hate in this country and undermined the ability of people with lower incomes to move forward.  Effectively Obama's  policies have had the impact of keeping poor people poor in this country.    One of the worst things he has done is to open our borders to people that effectively lower wages, even displace working people, often at rates well below minimum wage.  Instead of lifting people up he has pushed them down with a big boot across their neck.  
  • Reply 14 of 36
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    ...
    Apple designs its own custom silicon for the processors found in the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and more. It then contracts out those ARM-based designs to partners who handle the chipmaking duties.
    ...
    Step 1:
    - Crush Intel's CISC-based mobile efforts

    Step 2:
    - Hire Intel to make ARM-based Ax chips for Apple devices

    Here's an example of an early Intel Atom-based MID prototype.
    (MID = Mobile Internet Device, in case anybody has forgotten.)


    argonaut
  • Reply 15 of 36
    knowitallknowitall Posts: 1,288member
    rob53 said:
    If Intel becomes a commodity chip foundry, will they be monitored to make sure they don't steal chip designs from Apple and others? What's to keep them from simply "using" (yes, stealing) the chip designs they will have the engineering specs for? I've always been worried about Samsung stealing Apple's designs and hope that the US DoJ will go after Intel if they do steal Apple's designs. Of course, the DoJ hates Apple so they'd probably let Intel steal the designs and blame Apple for not protecting them or some BS.

    On the other hand, if Intel becomes an ARM foundry, would Apple try and figure out an agreement with Intel that allows Apple and Intel to co-design and produce desktop CPUs or SoC systems that would allow multi-core (6+) A-series CPUs with more powerful GPUs (AMD/Nvidia/?) that would actually compete with Intel's (slow to come to market) desktop CPUs? Removing the power and heat restrictions on the A-series should allow for faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs. I'm not sure Apple is really contemplating changing everything to their A-series but who knows, it might happen? As for building everything in the USA, this would only happen if Apple could design their mobile devices to be 98% robot assembled. This would negate the benefit of the Chinese work force. Of course, Apple still needs China for raw materials.

    disclaimer: I could care less about what Trump wants but I would mind seeing more American companies reap the benefits of Apple's production chain. Of course, with robots building everything, the US will need to figure out how to deal with even more unemployment, which also means lack of spending, hurting Apple's bottom line.
    Stealing designs is a worry of course, but reverse engineering a net list isn't a real option.
    Getting info from the chip itself is also very hard to do, especially secure sections that are 'camouflaged'.

    Current A series GPU is from PowerVR and is very (very) powerful and already beats Nvidia. The chip roadmap is also very promising. There is not much Apple or Intel can do, especially Intel because it's embedded GPUs suck big time.
    If Apple doesn't bring ARM 64 bit chips to the desktop, others will gladly do that and for a really really low price ($30 for a complete desktop system with sockets for 32GB of RAM, without screen and ssd drive).

    Robot assembly sounds nice (and maybe is nice) but it's maintenance and development will create a new workforce while eliminating the old one (we have seen this process several times before in history).

    China doesn't deliver raw materials, it imports them in large quantities, one exception is rare earth elements, but others can step in if need be.
    edited August 2016
  • Reply 16 of 36
    This one can go either way. I believe that TSMC is ahead of Intel in fabrication technology at this point. However, Intel is able to offer a solution where the modem is integrated into the SoC.

    The integrated modem may be important in a product like the watch and Apple may use Intel instead of Samsung to fab the S series of watch SoCs as a result. I see that one happening. However, the phone and the iPad have much larger power supplies and not nearly as power constrained as the watch. Separate modems in these devices are much less problematic. I don't see TSMC being displaced in these products. 

    How it plays out over the long term is anyone's guess. If Apple puts out a watch that can make calls independently of the phone and allows tethering of the iPad for data, such would be an ideal use situation for me and I would move from the iPhone to the watch. It should be straightforward and Apple could build an interface to allow the large battery in the iPad to feed power to the watch SoC when the devices are tethered for data, using the LTE modem in the SoC. 

    Such a scenario could lead to displacement of the iPhone for the watch and Intel could win big. However, if the iPhone remains dominant, TSMC will remain the dominant supplier of chips to Apple. 

    The watch seems to be the key. And if integrating the Intel modem into the S series SoC provides the better overall performance to power ratio to the combination of a separate Intel modem with a more advanced SoC from TSMC on a smaller node with InFO, Intel stands to benefit greatly. But if the TSMC chip is superior, Intel will have to rely on income from their modems primarily. 

    One thing is certain. Intel will have to up their game and start delivering based on Apple's schedule. Apple will not have to wait for Intel's ability to deliver the chips. Because TSMC and Samsung are more than happy to get Intel's business. 
    patchythepirateRayz2016
  • Reply 17 of 36
    toddzrxtoddzrx Posts: 194member
    Intel still must be smarting over the decision to turn down Apple's offer to build A series chips for them a decade ago.

    Otellini: "It wasn't one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought."

    Kind of ranks up there with Michael Dell's quote from the late 90's, when asked what the board should do with Apple before Jobs came back.
    toranagapatchythepirateargonaut
  • Reply 18 of 36
    wood1208 said:
    Writing is on wall soon as Intel acquired rights to build ARM chips. By 2018, Intel will have 10nm fab perfected and currently building cellular modem and Wifi chips, Intel will be able to provide one stop fab for Apple with A-processor,GPU, Modem, WiFi, lightening, audio, etc integrated on single chip. This gives Apple alternate sources of chip fabrication and also can demand competitive pricing from TSMC,Intel,Samsung and probably Global foundries.
    Can someone tell me, other than the physical size. How much different is it about making ARM cpu compare to Intel cpu or wifi chip?
  • Reply 19 of 36

    knowitall said:
    rob53 said:
    If Intel becomes a commodity chip foundry, will they be monitored to make sure they don't steal chip designs from Apple and others? What's to keep them from simply "using" (yes, stealing) the chip designs they will have the engineering specs for? I've always been worried about Samsung stealing Apple's designs and hope that the US DoJ will go after Intel if they do steal Apple's designs. Of course, the DoJ hates Apple so they'd probably let Intel steal the designs and blame Apple for not protecting them or some BS.

    On the other hand, if Intel becomes an ARM foundry, would Apple try and figure out an agreement with Intel that allows Apple and Intel to co-design and produce desktop CPUs or SoC systems that would allow multi-core (6+) A-series CPUs with more powerful GPUs (AMD/Nvidia/?) that would actually compete with Intel's (slow to come to market) desktop CPUs? Removing the power and heat restrictions on the A-series should allow for faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs. I'm not sure Apple is really contemplating changing everything to their A-series but who knows, it might happen? As for building everything in the USA, this would only happen if Apple could design their mobile devices to be 98% robot assembled. This would negate the benefit of the Chinese work force. Of course, Apple still 

    China doesn't deliver raw materials, it imports them in large quantities, one exception is rare earth elements, but others can step in if need be.
    Wrong.
    China is one of the biggest Rare Earth producer. Rare Earth is a main ingredient of high tech components, like CPU.
  • Reply 20 of 36
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    wizard69 said:
    rob53 said:
    If Intel becomes a commodity chip foundry, will they be monitored to make sure they don't steal chip designs from Apple and others? What's to keep them from simply "using" (yes, stealing) the chip designs they will have the engineering specs for? I've always been worried about Samsung stealing Apple's designs and hope that the US DoJ will go after Intel if they do steal Apple's designs. Of course, the DoJ hates Apple so they'd probably let Intel steal the designs and blame Apple for not protecting them or some BS.

    On the other hand, if Intel becomes an ARM foundry, would Apple try and figure out an agreement with Intel that allows Apple and Intel to co-design and produce desktop CPUs or SoC systems that would allow multi-core (6+) A-series CPUs with more powerful GPUs (AMD/Nvidia/?) that would actually compete with Intel's (slow to come to market) desktop CPUs? Removing the power and heat restrictions on the A-series should allow for faster CPUs and more powerful GPUs. I'm not sure Apple is really contemplating changing everything to their A-series but who knows, it might happen? As for building everything in the USA, this would only happen if Apple could design their mobile devices to be 98% robot assembled. This would negate the benefit of the Chinese work force. Of course, Apple still needs China for raw materials.

    disclaimer: I could care less about what Trump wants but I would mind seeing more American companies reap the benefits of Apple's production chain. Of course, with robots building everything, the US will need to figure out how to deal with even more unemployment, which also means lack of spending, hurting Apple's bottom line.

    As fir Trump he is a hard guy to like but I look at it this way the democrats have demonstrated that they don't deserve to be in office.  Obama specifically has fanned the flames of racial hate in this country and undermined the ability of people with lower incomes to move forward.  Effectively Obama's  policies have had the impact of keeping poor people poor in this country.    One of the worst things he has done is to open our borders to people that effectively lower wages, even displace working people, often at rates well below minimum wage.  Instead of lifting people up he has pushed them down with a big boot across their neck.  
    where has Obama opened the borders, specifically? because I'm thinking of his middle of the night immigration raids and that's the opposite of what you're claiming. 

    also, can you work in some anti-gay rhetoric again?
    edited August 2016
Sign In or Register to comment.