Speculation has been growing over the last few months about how Apple will untangle itself from its dependency on Samsung, a company it once saw as a partner but now thinks of more as a rival. At the moment Samsung is responsible for making the ARM processors which power Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Apple is seeking to find other suppliers and it looks like the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) will start trial production of Apple’s latest CPU, the A6X, which powers the fourth generation iPad.
Ever since Samsung started to each away at Apple’s monopoly in the smartphone market, tensions have been rising between the two companies. This culminated in a landmark court case where Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages when a jury said that Samsung had copied the iPhone to make its Galaxy S smartphones. Samsung is appealing the ruling, however it looks like the two companies will distance themselves from each other more and more.
According to AFP reports, the Taiwanese company, which is the world’s largest independent semiconductor manufacturer, has been contracted to start trial production of the A6X during the first quarter of this year. At the moment the A6X is manufactured by Samsung at a silicon factory in Austin, Texas using Samsung’s High-κ metal gate (HKMG) 32 nm process. It is thought the switch to TSMC will also allow Apple to move to a 28-nanometer process and eventually to 20-nanometer technology.
The loss of Apple’s processor manufacturing contract is thought unlikely to hurt Samsung. According to the DigiTimes, Samsung is currently only able to produce about 30% of the processors it needs for its own devices. Any extra capacity freed from Apple moving to TSMC will likely be used up by Samsung itself.
The contract hasn’t yet been confirmed by Apple or TSMC.