Report: Intel might open up its fabs to Apple

Right now, Apple gets its A4 and A5 processors manufactured by Samsung. Judging by the recent legal tizzy between the two companies, though, the partnership might not last. That leaves the question of which lucky semiconductor company will get to make chips for iPads, iPhones, and iPods.

Taiwan’s TSMC seems like one obvious candidate. EE Times reported last month that Apple was indeed pursuing a chip manufacturing partnership with TSMC. Now, the rumor mill is also suggesting that Apple might strike a manufacturing deal with—wait for it—Intel.

EE Times bases its story on a report by Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gus Richard, who claims that partnering with Apple would give Intel a "position" in the smart-phone and tablet markets. At the same time, Intel’s cutting-edge manufacturing would help Apple distance itself from its competitors… including Samsung.

If you think Intel would never open up its fabs to a third party, think again. Last year, the chipmaker struck a deal with FPGA designer Achronix, which will receive "strategic access" to Intel’s upcoming 22-nm fab process. I’m not sure I buy the analyst’s line about a deal with Apple benefiting Intel, though. Intel already has tablet-ready Atom processors out the door, and x86-based smartphones are expected later this year. Giving Apple access to its fabs might only cannibalize sales of those products…

…unless, of course, Apple decides to go x86. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Comments closed
    • mutarasector
    • 10 years ago

    I suspect Samsung will still be making those A4/A5 processors. More than likely, Apple and Samsung will settle and/or cross-license.

    This EE Times story is a non-news story.

    • jjj
    • 10 years ago

    Makes no sense at all for Intel to help ARM be faster while they are trying to compete with Atom in that space. Besides the revenue gain would be little even if Apple pays a premium for 22nm (or 14nm).
    The foundry deals with Achronix,Lilliputian System and the rumored one with Tabula are not made for financial reasons while a deal with Apple wouldn’t bring anything else besides some (and not much) revenue.
    As for Apple since when do they give a damn about performance?They care about user experience from the combination of hardware and software and about money so no reason at all to pay more for some extra performance.Would be simpler and cheaper for Apple to go with TSMC or GloFo if they leave Samsung.

    • Game_boy
    • 10 years ago

    Would make sense with the Samsung suit. Samsung might not give them as favourable terms on the CPU and NAND in future.

    Also I fell through a time-warp due to that last link and laughed at all the people saying AMD was better. Even then the Pentium M was a better Macbook chip, and the next year proved it.

    • NeelyCam
    • 10 years ago

    If there’s anybody in the world that could force Intel to make chips with ARM cores in them (again), it’s Apple..

    • Decelerate
    • 10 years ago

    Awesome news for both, bad news for Samsung (Apple’s Sammy’s biggest client iirc).

    I however hope that this isn’t a prelude to an AppTel duopoly-type setting, even though that is currently very far-fetched.

    Would like to see Microsoft get chummy with Samsung, just to get the competitive blood flowing in the industry (Win-Win!).

      • Ushio01
      • 10 years ago

      Yay, with lower quantity’s of Intel chips on the market they can raise prices since Apple will use quite a bit of Intel’s fab capacity.

      Also Apple is Samsung’s second largest customer after Sony.

      [url<]http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110419/bs_afp/usskoreaitcompanypatenttelecominternetapplesamsung[/url<]

        • NeelyCam
        • 10 years ago

        I’m not sure if I agree on the Intel capacity comment.

        1) If Intel’s capacity is steered towards cellphone chips vs. desktop/server chips, AMD/GloFo will just pick up the slack. Prices won’t change significantly.
        2) Intel has a crazy amount of capacity, with more being built.

        • Decelerate
        • 10 years ago

        Well I think Apple was Sammy’s largest back earlier this year. Guess Sony bought some TV panels (especially after the quake, doh! didn’t think about that…)

      • dpaus
      • 10 years ago

      Wouldn’t that be ‘Winsong’?? Or maybe SamSoft?

        • Decelerate
        • 10 years ago

        I meant Win-Win scenario, but i was abstract in my statement

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    they might have to. until the sue intel anyway.

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