Apple rumored to be dumping Samsung in favor of TSMC for A7 processors

Apple rumored to be dumping Samsung in favor of TSMC for A7 processors

Summary: Not only does the rumor claim that Apple is shifting to TSMC, but that there will also be a die shrink down from the 32-nanometers that Samsung is currently capable of producing to a much finer 20 nanometers.


Cupertino electronics giant Apple is rumored to be ditching Samsung in favor of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to build its A7 processors, according to The Korea Times.

(Image: iFixit)

According to the outlet, "an executive at one of Samsung's local partners in Korea" said that Apple is now "sharing confidential data" about its upcoming A7 processors with TSMC. The report goes on to say that TSMC is "ordering its contractors to supply equipment to produce Apple's next processors using a finer 20-nanometer level processing technology".

The report quoted "an official of another top-tier parts supplier to the Korean company" as saying, "Apple is cutting the use of Samsung displays for its products. Now the deterioration of ties has expanded to chips."

The A-series processors that power iOS devices are a custom Apple-designed ARMv7-based dual-core CPU, but because Apple doesn't have the capability to fabricate processors, the company has to rely on third parties to do this.

The current A6 and A6X processors are built using 32-nanometer high-k metal gate architecture, and a switch to 20 nanometer would allow the die to be shrunk – which is much needed, considering that the A6X found in the iPad 4 has a 26 percent larger die than the A6 that powers the iPhone 5 – and bring with it a significant power saving, allowing iPhones and iPads to do more between recharges.

See also: What the iPhone of the future might look like

Apple and Samsung have been locked in a fierce legal battle that has spread across the globe. As a result of this, Apple has been cutting ties with Samsung lately, turning to different suppliers for screens and memory. It makes sense that the company would be looking for a new CPU manufacturer.

But the legal battle is only part of the equation. Samsung is falling behind the competition when it comes to shrinking the die size, and is having a tough time with a 28-nanometer process. Apple, which is renowned for making devices smaller and thinner, needs something smaller.

This makes TSMC a logical choice for Apple, even if everything was peachy with Samsung.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, iPad, Processors, Samsung

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Wonder if apple will try and pull another Thunderbolt

    When will we read the Engadget article stating that an anonymous source has confirmed that apple invented the 20nm processor manufacturing technique?
    • I don't come here often

      But I always notice you're one of the first to post an anti-apple comment. Do you even read the articles or just post right away? I sure hope you're getting paid by someone for these posts if not it's pretty sad.
      new gawker
      • He has a point, sadly you don't.

        • I don't think non sequiturs...

          really have a point. If he has a problem with Engadget's reporting, why not go there and whine?
        • Re: He has a point

          Because Toddy is unable to articulate his own point, would you be so kind to help him?
    • Thunderbolt

      It is no surprise that you are ignorant of the fact that Apple did indeed co-develop the Thunderbolt interface with Intel:
      • I looked it up. It's Intel's Tech.

        Apple helped develop the port-standard, not the actual technology.

        As evident, the Vaio Z, released before Apple's MacBook, used a proprietary version of said-tech for its PMD in 2011.

        While Apple may have helped set the standard, the technology is still 100% Intel.
        • No, you wanted it to be Intel tech

          Intel developed LightPeak. Apple was in need of similar technology and instead of developing one on their own, came to Intel to help them turn LightPeak into Thunderbolt. The port standard is just part of the story.

          As you might, or might not know, Apple is not interested to own industry standards. Owning industry standards brings liability, that drags you (back) and is pretty expensive at some point. It is pretty much useless for Apple to own a technology that is designed to integrate with Intel architecture (only). Apple negotiated a deal with Intel over this and it looks like in exchange of licensing back all of the technology components to Intel, they got an perpetual license and "first to use for a year" right on each of it's versions. The fate of Thunderbird 2.0 will reveal more on this.
  • I am not an apple fan, but dumping Samsung is a good move.

    Samsung can't be trusted anymore, it's trying to swallow something it can't. And now its sleeping with the devil named Google.
    • Re: And now its sleeping with the devil named Google.

      How weird is that? First they were saying Samsung's runaway success with Android would be a danger to Google, now here they are saying Google is the danger to Samsung.

      One thing about these Android haters: a consistent story, they have heard of it!
  • It is interesting

    how Apple is dissolving relationships with partners that ended up screwing the Cupertino company by shamelessly ripping off their products. With friends like that who needs enemies. Good for Apple.
    • Agreed. Apple will find any reason to dissolve relationships

      with it's "partners".

      If it's partners don't give Apple a reason, they just go and screw them regardless once Apple got what it was after.
      William Farrel
  • It is certainly no surprise.

    Granted, Samsung provided the lowest cost services for burning the chips Apple needs, but Samsung's alleged industrial espionage let them know every new product Apple was developing and create a competing product in far less time than any other competitor. Worse, because of Apple's notorious secrecy, Samsung could openly announce an Apple-competing product before Apple itself was ready to announce the 'original', making it look like Apple might be copying Samsung.

    This means Apple HAD to find another source for its chips--and preferably a source that couldn't (or wouldn't) attempt to immediately bring out a directly-competing product.
    • Ah, that explains it

      EVERYONE is spying on apple and announcing products before apple gets to. So THAT'S why apple is always 3-5 years behind everyone else.
      • Yes, even in 2007, Apple was clearly 3-5 years behind EVERYONE else

        Or maybe not.

        But it's OK to hate Apple. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion here.
    • Seriously?

      ARM? Nope, Apple licensed it... PowerVR SGX5xxMPx? Nope, they licensed that as well... What is so innovative in these chips that Samsung had to steal them?
      • The A6...

        Has a licensed ARM core, but is an Apple design.

        It's more than just a simple ARM chip.
        • +1

          It follows the Arm v7 architecture, but it is not a cortex chip (A5, A7, A8, A9, A15)

          Previously they were. For example the Apple A5 SoC contained two cortex A9 cores. With the A6, apple designed their own chip like qualcomm have done. This inimented features of a cortex A9 and a Cortex A15, but is neither.

          It was their answer two the new ARM Cortex A15 chip design from ARM. This is the latest, most advanced, but it is too power hungry for smaetphones. Samsung went big.little using two licened ARM Cortex chips (A15 & A7) in one package, apple designed their own core.

          That's not to say it's a first; as I say qualcomm have done this on several of their chips.
          • True enough

            As did Intel at one point with the XScale chips*, and so did/do Marvell. Most companies that make processors based on the ARM architecture opt to license the full core, but some companies have more specific goals in mind, and so they decide to license the architecture and tweak it according to their needs.

            *I think the StrongARM, originally made by Digital, may have been a custom core itself, but corrections are welcomed as the situation warrants.
            Third of Five
          • Good to see some constructive posts in here

            Instead of only the usual posts from "fanboys" and "haters" who just want to call people with other opinions than themselves for "morons".