Samsung could rejoin Apple's iPhone processor supply with 2018 'A12' chips

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2017
Samsung is reportedly intensifying its investments into chip production, with an eye on once again manufacturing A-series processors for Apple starting in 2018.




The company will make "supplemental investments" into its 10-nanometer production lines in April, and build out 7-nanometer facilities in 2018, said South Korea's ET News. The 7-nanometer lines are allegedly meant to get a headstart on Apple's current A-series supplier, TSMC.

TSMC has largely controlled A-series manufacturing since the iPhone 6, though some production for the iPhone 6s was split with Samsung. This year's "iPhone 8" is expected to use a 10-nanometer "A11" chip, once again made exclusively by TSMC.

Apple is likely to be hesitant to turn to Samsung again unless it needs sheer scale to meet demand. The two companies are competitors in phones, tablets, wearables, and laptops, and Samsung's work on the iPhone 6s proved problematic, since its version of the A9 processor was accused of less battery life and more heat than one produced by TSMC.

TSMC is also forecast to enter mass production of 7-nanometer chips sometime in early 2018, possibly rendering Samsung's ambitions moot.

Samsung does supply displays to Apple however, and is believed to making the 5.8-inch OLED screen for the "iPhone 8." That device may also offer upgrades like wireless charging and 3D facial recognition, potentially costing over $1,000 -- indeed, one rumor has referred to it as the "iPhone Edition," drawing parallels with the Apple Watch Edition, which is aimed at Apple's richest shoppers.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,808member
    Hello. Why Samsung for chip fabrication when TSMC is offering 10nm today and 7nm in near future ? And don't forget Intel wants to supply chips(modem) and fabricate A processors for Apple.
    watto_cobrabrakken
  • Reply 2 of 16
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,235member
    When will Apple stop giving the keys to the kingdom to Samsung?
    watto_cobrabrakken
  • Reply 3 of 16
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,889member
    All else being equal, clearly Apple will prefer TSMC over Samsung due to Samsung being a competitor. 

    But if Samsung can offer a better price and/or better performance, then Apple would be foolish not to go with Samsung. Because at the end of the day, it's about making the best product you can. 
    edredafrodristantheman
  • Reply 4 of 16
    smalmsmalm Posts: 654member
    Bah, humbug!
    Apple's A12 will be produced in TSMC's 7nm process for sure.
    We can discuss A13 in a year from now....

    PS:
    From the etnews article:
    "Samsung Electronics’ goal is to finish investments for […] 7-nano production lines by […] second half of next year or early 2019 respectively.”
    stanthemanwatto_cobrabrakken
  • Reply 5 of 16
    We frequently see incorrect reports that Samsung is about to win huge orders from Apple and those reports always seem to originate from South Korea.  If this story originated from a different country, I might take it seriously, but coming from ET News, I'll take it with a pinch of salt considerably more than 10 nanometers across.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 16
    FatmanFatman Posts: 238member
    Samsung makes good chips and display components (period). Why don't they exit/sell their low margin/money losing commodity android-based smartphone business - let the Chinese fight over those scraps - and concentrate all investment in their fab side to exclusively become the best chip, display and fab company.
  • Reply 7 of 16
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,457member
    Maybe this year it will be the AX processor in the iPhoneX.  And Samsung will introduce the SX this year too!!  /s
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    Fatman said:
    Samsung makes good chips and display components (period). 
    However it is a fact that TSMC chips are slightly ( but measurably) better in terms of performance, and power consumption, when compared to Sammy A chips. Chipgate... remember? When iPhones having TSMC chips worked longer and had a slightly better performance.

    I guess, it is time for Sammy to poach another engineer from TSMC, just like they did before.
    edited March 2017 tmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    If Apple jumps to Samsung for the A12, that would throw a monkey wrench into the financial planning TSMC must do for developing 7nm, 5nm and possibly 3nm. Why would Apple ever do that to TSMC, unless a semi-permanent commitment is being made by Apple to use Samsung processors for A12, A13, A14, etc.?
  • Reply 10 of 16
    Where does it end? What happens when we get to 1nm process?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,457member
    Where does it end? What happens when we get to 1nm process?
    Quantum computing!!
    70
  • Reply 12 of 16
    Where does it end? What happens when we get to 1nm process?
    It ends (at least for this type of computing) where effects of quantum tunnelling start messing up stuff so much that you can't figure out if the gate is still holding those electrons, or whether electrons start leaking through barrier due to QM.

  • Reply 13 of 16
    ksecksec Posts: 1,549member
    2017 is TSMC 10nm.
    2018 is TSMC 7nm. 

    Both are set in stone already. At least for iPhone.
    Apple could make iPad SoC with Samsung. But I am not sure if this make any sense. The A10 is already very powerful, limited by heat and power. Assuming no substantial changes of iPad usage pattern, an A12 SoC that scale to 15W could work well for iPad as well.  

    >>But if Samsung can offer a better price and/or better performance, then Apple would be foolish not to go with Samsung. Because at the end of the day, it's about making the best product you can. 

    I do think Samsung could sell it at a net zero pricing. But that is unless there aren't enough orders to fill. As it stand today, There isn't an over capacity in Fab industry, 
  • Reply 14 of 16
    blastdoor said:
    All else being equal, clearly Apple will prefer TSMC over Samsung due to Samsung being a competitor. 

    But if Samsung can offer a better price and/or better performance, then Apple would be foolish not to go with Samsung. Because at the end of the day, it's about making the best product you can. 
    I agree, but I also keep in mind that the 16nm TSMC-made A9 performed better than the 14nm Samsung-made A9. I.E. TSMC was getting better performance, battery life and heat with "less sophisticated" technology. So Apple chose to use TSMC even though larger processes are typically more expensive (less chips per wafer.) Now TSMC has the nm production process advantage on their side as well, so Samsung have two hurdles: cost of the chip and the performance of the technology. Naturally this is finger to the sky mathematics (since yield rate is a critical factor), but you can certainly trust Apple to do what is best by Apple and the people who buy their devices.
  • Reply 15 of 16
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 677member
    Dear SS,

    Please die soon. 

    Much love,

    Betrayed former customer ❤︎
  • Reply 16 of 16
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,998member
    Where does it end? What happens when we get to 1nm process?
    Obvious, -1 nm ... ;)
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