Apple preparing A-series processor production move to TSMC: sources

As the patent battle between Apple and Samsung shows no sign of ending, it seems that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant in preparing to turn to TSMC for its A-series processors.

It's quite evident that Apple wants to banish Samsung from its supply chain , and for good reason. The two companies have been locked in a bitter patent war, which has spread to nearly every continent in the world.

Now, industry whispers suggest that Apple could shift production of its A-series processors -- the silicon at the heart of every iOS-powered device that Apple sells -- away from the Korean electronics giant, and to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

The rumor comes via Chinese tech site DigiTimes -- which is hardly the most reliable source when it comes to Apple-related news -- but the report does fit in with other chatter that I've been getting from the supply chain.

The report claims that TSMC will begin producing chips for iOS devices during 2013, but that the huge volume of chips that Apple requires -- some 200 million per year, which works out at some 200,000 12-inch wafers -- would put a huge pressure on TSMC.

TSMC chief executive Morris Chang has previously suggested that it would make sense for the company to devote at least one semiconductor fabrication plant (or "fab") to a single customer. And, just as it happens, TSMC has a new fab expected to come online in late 2013.

If Apple shifts production to TSMC, then a move from the 32-nanometer process that Samsung currently uses to a more efficient -- both in terms of power and dies size -- 28-nanomter process makes sense, especially given that TSMC already manufactures 28-nanometer parts for the likes of Nvidia and Qualcomm.

If Apple starts demanding hundreds of millions of processors from TSMC, then this could potentially put a crimp in Nvidia and Qualcomm's supply chain. A number of fabless companies have grown to rely on TSMC for silicon, and if Apple starts throwing its weight around, some of them could be left scrabbling for a new supplier.

As noted by Ars Technica, Apple has been testing production of next-generation A6 processors using TSMC's advanced 28nm process over the last year. If that is the case, then it's not a matter of if Apple move production away from Samsung, but when.

Image source: Apple.

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