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.
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.
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.