Although reports have surfaced that Apple may be building a top secret $10 billion chip fab, right now, the vast majority of Apple’s A-series chips are made by Samsung. This is obviously not an ideal situation, as it gives Apple’s arch smartphone rival the advantage of knowing what the iPhone-maker is planning on doing next, at least from a silicon perspective.
It looks like Apple may soon be able to rely less on its nemesis when it comes to building chips, though. A new report says that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will largely take over for Samsung in making iPhone and iPad chips in the future. And they’ll be pretty crazy advanced chips, too, at least if the rumors can be believed.
The original report comes from the questionable industry rag, Digitimes, which says that future A-series chips will be built with a 14/16nm process, with TSMC building 60-70% of them and Samsung picking up the rest of the slack.
That’s actually pretty hard to believe. Current A7-chips are based upon a 28nm process, and after that comes 22nm, so this is actually a leap of about two technology nodes. An A8 chip built upon a smaller process would give the iPhone a massive boost in speed and power efficiency, but it’s hard to believe TSMC could handle mass-producing such chips, when despite numerous rumors, they’ve never actually worked on making chips with Apple before.
But according to a source speaking to CNET, TSMC is actually already making Apple A-series processors, possibly in limited trial runs. And this would certainly seem to back up previous reports that TSMC and Apple had inked a deal together to make A8 and A9 processors a reality.
Personally, I’m very skeptical that we’ll see 14/16nm A8 chips, but then again, I never expected Apple to go 64-bit with the A7. But I’d be willing to bet that TSMC isn’t going to be able to handle 70% of all orders of any Apple chip without ramping up production for a couple years. So take this one with a grain of salt.