Project “Azalea” could be Apple’s attempt to replace Samsung as its processor manufacturer

by: Gary SimsDecember 20, 2012

apple-a6-chipA few weeks ago Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, told NBC that Apple is to begin manufacturing one of its Mac lines exclusively in US, he also added that the company had been working on “doing more and more” in the US. Details are now emerging that states like New York and Oregon have been courting a semi-conductor company which plans to build a 3.2-million-square-foot factory that could employ up to 1,000 people. This mysterious company is going by the codename “Azalea”.

According to various rumors “Azalea” is none less than the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) which is the world’s largest independent semiconductor manufacturer. Moreover, TSMC plans to build the new plant so that it can take over ARM chip production for Apple.

The battle between Apple and Samsung has been well documented and it is clear that Apple wants to cut as many links as it can with Samsung. Currently Apple’s processors like the A5 and the A6X are built by Samsung at a chip factory in Austin, Texas. If the rumors are true then Apple will get rid of Samsung and go with TSMC.

The Taipei Times is reporting comments by Manish Nigam of Credit Suisse saying that Apple may make the switch from Samsung to TSMC as soon as the second quarter of 2013. The earlier than expected move would see Apple use TSMC’s 28-nanometer process. The A6X is currently made using Samsung’s High-κ metal gate (HKMG) 32 nm process. Previously, Credit Suisse said it expected Apple to move away from Samsung late next year or by early 2014 and jump straight to a 20nm process.

  • HellG

    TSMC couldnt even have enough chips for AMD graphic cards and the demand wasnt even that big compared to phone chips, this will back fire at Apple am telling ya

    • MasterMuffin

      I hope it does :D

    • like their apple map backfired.

      • Apple_Nexus

        Yeah, “backfired” and got iOS users proper Google maps with turn-by-turn navigation that they never had before. :)

    • cycad007

      TSMC is at least a year ahead of Samsung in terms of process technology. They’ve fixed their issues with the 28 nm line now….Samsung, on the other hand, has yet to mass produce a 28 nm chip. Do you really think there won’t be any hiccups?

      If “back fire” means Apple getting better built chips, then you would be correct. There are a number of reasons why Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, Altera, Broadcom, Conexant, Marvell, Allwinner & VIA go with TSMC instead of Samsung.

      • HellG

        Its not about that really they could have went to Intel that i’m sure will accept if they get a good price and you will get the bleeding edge of technology with them but rather the quality/price ratio that Samsung have, i believe that most of these companies will never try to work with Samsung as they are all direct competitors and have nothing to do with Samsung chips not being as good as TSMC, I dont know what you mean with better built chips as iProducts never seem to over heat and their chips always come with big fire power

  • TriAxeS

    It will probably backfire the way it did when Apple removed “Google Maps”.
    It’s sad that competition is leading to “poor end user experience”, whereas the it is in fact meant to enhance it.

  • wangkon936

    Building a brand spanking new chip plant takes time, at least two years. By then Samsung would have figured out what to do and it probably won’t impact their sales and profits that much.