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

December 20, 2012
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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.

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