Report: Apple, TSMC working on A6 chip manufacturing

While Apple is busy capturing market share with computers and handhelds, the firm is also busy working on the successor to its home-brewed A5 system-on-a-chip. According to Reuters, trial production of that chip (tentatively dubbed A6 by the press) is now underway… at TSMC.

Samsung currently manufactures Apple’s A5 SoCs, but whispers have been circling the rumor mill about Apple seeking to diversity production—likely because it decided to sue Samsung over the company’s alleged copycatting of iDevices not long ago. As the world’s biggest independent foundry, TSMC seems like a prime candidate, and this latest rumor suggests Apple and TSMC are indeed in cahoots.

That said, Reuters’ source adds, "Whether Apple puts in a formal order will depend on the yield rate." (In other words, if TSMC churns out too many bad chips per wafer, Apple may look for another partner.) The story also quotes William Wang of Fubon Securities as saying that, even if TSMC gets a formal order, Apple won’t rely on it exclusively for A6 chip manufacturing—rather, TSMC might only be responsible for 20-30% of A6 production.

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    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Samsung’s competition with Apple, a customer, is bad business ethics, but Samsung’s wide product diversity particularly in consumer electronics (not just chip manufacturing, as it is with TSMC) makes it almost a given. Also, having Samsung fab its chips then later seeing Samsung Galaxies flooding the market will no doubt give Apple reason to suspect that Samsung is peering inside their chips (not far-fetched considering Samsung has vast electronics experience). Anyone would almost certainly feel the same way. Wouldn’t you?

    • jjj
    • 9 years ago

    This,in fact,might be about 28nm and Apple’s need to have it ASAP.This would explain the iphone 5 delay,the rumors that the A5 dual core is overheating when in phones and could make the iPad 3 just a 28nm update.The yields thing is relative,since prices can always be adjusted and they could pay for good die,the real issue should be capacity.
    Guess we’ll see soon…

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    this is just retarded.
    Have a supplier who works well with you, and has good yields: SUE HIS ASS OFF, AND CHANGE BOATS.

      • Decelerate
      • 9 years ago

      Not totally retarded when said supplier is also your direct competitor.

      Whether Apple is right or wrong, it’s understandable that they feel skepticism towards Samsung. Any company in this situation would do the same.

        • Arag0n
        • 9 years ago

        It’s understandable that they look for a diversity of suppliers, not understandable that they SUE their main supplier. They should look for a new one before suing…. they had a likely chance of Samsung halting the manufacture of A5’s for Apple in response and Apple with no CPU’s or anything to place inside their products. They are so lucky Samsung likes money more than Marketshare…

          • Hattig
          • 9 years ago

          A business like Samsung is set up into separate business units, and the fact that Apple is suing Samsung over phone design is unlikely to affect Samsung’s fabrication division’s business with Apple.

          Of course Apple might have some legitimate concerns about Samsung’s ability to keep customer secrets in one division from other divisions.

          Apple wants to diversify, and TSMC aren’t a major fab for nothing.

          • Decelerate
          • 9 years ago

          That reasoning is flawed imo. Samsung cannot absorb the production loss by blocking the A5’s -and other components- demand in iPad2s (and probably the iPhone 5’s pre-production run). If Samsung flips the switch, it will be more damaging to them than to Apple, which probably has a few manufacturers as insurrance (Intel, TSMC?) for such a scenario.

          As for the suing, it’s another reality that I cannot judge openly (everyone sues everyone). I can form an opinion, but it is sure to be incomplete.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            not likely true, on the Insurance front. Samsung created the A5, and licensed it to apple. It would depend on the licensing terms, and the competitions fab methods. Not all chips can be made everywhere, and often with different fabbing, they need different engineering. It would certainly hurt apple, and apple would sue them for that. It would also hurt samsung

            • Decelerate
            • 9 years ago

            I don’t think Samsung created the A5. Apple has the design and Samsung is merely manufacturing it.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            kinda. it’s based upon the Samsung Exynos, and slightly tweaked from there. they made some subtle adjustments, but it’s essentially a samsung chip.

            • Hattig
            • 9 years ago

            Nope. The Exynos uses ARM Mali graphics for a start, not PowerVR SGX543MP2. Obviously the ARM Cortex A9 cores are off-the-shelf IP – and as an aside, Apple bought the company (Intrinsity) that did the core enhancements in the A4 anyway even if Samsung did have a right to use it too as the Hummingbird.

            So we’re down to looking at what else on the SoC might be Samsung IP and not licensed cores. The interconnect – ARM AMBA I suppose. And all the other functions will be standard IP that connects via AMBA that Apple has licensed for their own use.

            Obviously the floorplan of the A5 is significantly different from the A4 given the A9s and new GPU, so the entirety of the supposition that it is a Samsung design hinges on them having done that layout themselves, and not Intrinsity, PA Semi or whoever else Apple uses for such designs.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            right… so basically… they changed the GPU, and…. samsung MAY very well have done the rest of the work, that’s not ARM done? sounds like i wasn’t far off…

            • Hattig
            • 9 years ago

            I didn’t say Samsung MAY have done the work though.

            It’s far far far far more likely that Apple used their existing in-house SoC design team(s) that they have build and bought in for the A5.

            The A4 is a different beast.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            no. you did just say “they may have”. PROVE they didn’t, otherwise, they might have. WHICH IS WHAT I SAID.

            • Hattig
            • 9 years ago

            Oh, are we reduced to capitalising words now?

            “sounds like i wasn’t far off…” … “Samsung created the A5”

            PROVE IT.

            • dashbarron
            • 9 years ago

            So, in a nutshell….

            ARM technology/license used by Apple to be designed by Instrinisty which they bought, manufactured and tweaked with Samsung licenses/technology and dubbed the A5?

            • Arag0n
            • 9 years ago

            And that’s why I say they like MONEY more than MARKETSHARE. They wouldn’t be able to absorve the extra demand coming from a market that doesn’t sells anymore iPhones, neither all the demand would be conducted to samsung phones. However, is undenyable that they would get a bump in smartphone sells and marketshare. Sometimes companies push their marketshare using money, that’s called advertising!

            In this case, they could do that dropping a contractor, short term money loss, long term strategy. However, it would be a bad thing for samsung’s reputation to drop a customer just by a disagreement. They would be tagged as an unreliable partner.

          • rodster111
          • 9 years ago

          There are likely purchase order contracts in place that Samsung would have to breach and risk further legal action if they tried to hold parts supply to Apple hostage.

        • Ryszard
        • 9 years ago

        Samsung Semiconductor and Samsung CE are two different businesses, and it’s the CE part that Apple takes issue with. Its foundry business relationship with Samsung Semi is quite separate.

        • SomeOtherGeek
        • 9 years ago

        But everyone else is Apple’s competitor.

          • Decelerate
          • 9 years ago

          I don’t think TSMC is a great competitor…

      • Silus
      • 9 years ago

      That’s Apple! Anyone competing with you needs to be destroyed, not by the superiority of your products, but by the sheer quantity of ridiculous lawsuits or patent infringements (see HTC). For me Apple coined the term “Patent troll”.

      And if you somehow made business with any of those competing parties for some time, sue them and find someone else to screw over in a couple of years.

      As I’ve read somewhere, Apple is all about “this is the iPlanet and if you’re not with us, then you are living on it wrong”

        • End User
        • 9 years ago

        In light of [url<]http://goo.gl/YUq46[/url<], let me rewrite your post: That's Microsoft! Anyone competing with you needs to be destroyed, not by the superiority of your products, but by the sheer quantity of ridiculous lawsuits or patent infringements (see HTC). For me Microsoft coined the term "Patent troll". And if you somehow made business with any of those competing parties for some time, sue them and find someone else to screw over in a couple of years. As I've read somewhere, Microsoft is all about "this is our Planet and if you're not with us, then you are living on it wrong"

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          ms is fine. they’re the biggest contributor to linux, the largest donor of technology products in the world, and their founder is the largest non profit. I’d take that over Jobs anyday.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            “Has Microsoft turned a page? Are they embracing Linux and open source software? Well, no they have not turned a page. They are still the same old Microsoft. All their contributions are patches for the Microsoft Hyper-V driver.”

            “In 2009, Microsoft submitted around 20,000 lines of code to Linux. These codes make it possible to run Linux on Windows Server using its Hyper-V technology. However, the Linux developers found a lot of problems with Microsoft’s contribution.”

            “Over 200 patches make up the massive cleanup effort needed to just get this code into a semi-sane kernel coding style (someone owes me a bit bottle of rum for that work!) Unfortunately the Microsoft developers seem to have disappeared, and no one is answering my emails. If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 release. So sad…”

            “All of the 361 patches that Microsoft has contributed towards Linux 3.0 are simply patches for the Hyper-V driver. They are there only to make it possible for Linux to run on Windows Servers. This contribution should not be interpreted as a change in Microsoft’s attitude towards Free and Open Source Software, and Linux in general.”

            [url<]http://goo.gl/S9by2[/url<] It is in Microsoft's best interest to donate tech. It expands their potential customer base.

            • poulpy
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]ms is fine. they're the biggest contributor to linux[/quote<] Haha you're cracking me up bro keep it up 🙂

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