Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) will reportedly land a deal for Apple’s future “A7’ processors when the Cupertino company’s current contract with Samsung expires in 2014.
Samsung has been responsible for Apple’s mobile chips since the introduction of the A4 back in 2010, but Apple has seemingly been looking to take its business elsewhere since the pair became embroiled in a series of lengthy legal battles.
Being in business with Apple can’t be all that bad right now. Despite a report this morning that claimed Apple’s suppliers experienced weak sales in February, there are a few Apple suppliers that are hiring more employees to meet demand.
The Apple TV, Cupertino’s “hobby” of a set-top box, is often used to test out new fabrication process for the A-series chips that go into iPhones, iPod touches and iPads. The last Apple TV ran a 32nm A5 processor built by Samsung with a single-core disabled, which eventually ended up (in a dual-core capacity) in the iPad mini.
This could be the first ripple of a very big wave: the Commercial Times out of Taiwan is claiming that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (or TSMC) is about to start trial production for Apple’s A6X SoC this quarter.
Why is this a big deal? Apple’s arch-nemesis Samsung currently manufacturers the A6X chip… and it might herald Apple shifting all of its multi-billion dollar chip business away.
There’s been a lot of talk about Project Azalea, Apple’s rumored $10 billion project with TSMC to build a top-secret chip plant on domestic shores. We’ve heard it might be built in New York. We’ve heard it might be built in Portland. Wherever it’s built, though, it’s believed to be a major blow against Apple’s frenemy Samsung, who currently builds the majority of Apple’s custom ARM chips.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Project Azalea might not have anything to do with Apple after all, with TSMC’s CEO himself now denying it.
Productions rates for the iPhone 5 are improving, supply sources claim, just in time for the handset to make its debut in more than 50 additional markets throughout December. Now that Apple has caught up with demand, the handset’s shipping delay has been reduced from four weeks to just 2-4 business days. Suppliers now expect the Cupertino company to sell 45 million iPhone 5 units during the fourth quarter alone.
Exclusivity to TSMC’s production would make things very difficult for Apple’s competitors.
In an effort to better meet the demand of its mobile devices — and make things very difficult for its competitors — Apple has reportedly been bidding to secure exclusive access to TSMC’s (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.) custom smartphone chips. Qualcomm has also been bidding up against the Cupertino company, and both parties are believed to have submitted bids in excess of $1 billion.
Like its iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch which utilize the company’s A4 and A5 processors, Apple’s upcoming television set will be powered by a custom-built chip made specifically for the Cupertino company. Sources claim that a number of manufacturers are currently bidding for Apple’s order, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), and Siliconware Precision Industries (SPIL).
While most of the components crammed inside your iOS devices are built by low-cost Asian manufacturers, its dual-core A5 processor is actually built a little closer to home — at Samsung’s new factory in Austin, Texas.