Samsung to supply Apple with next-gen 14nm iPhone chips

July 15, 2013
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Apple and Samsung clearly don’t have the friendliest of relationships, but a few mutually beneficial agreements have popped up between the two every now and again. According to the Korea Economic Daily, the two companies could soon be partners once again, as the two smartphone giants have supposedly signed an agreement regarding the next generation of iPhone processors.

Samsung was, and will be up until next year, the chief chip supplier for Apple’s line-up of iPhone products, but this relationship is set to come to an end once the current contract expires. Apple signed a deal with TSMC a couple of weeks ago, in order to move away from reliance on its largest competitor, which resulted in Samsung trying to court other device manufacturers for future chip contracts.

However, the latest report from the Korea Economic Daily states that Samsung and Apple will be pairing back up in 2015, with Samsung providing 14nm A9 chips for Apple’s next-generation iPhone, dubbed the “iPhone 7”. The handset could be released in the second half of 2015, requiring chip production to start up earlier in the year.

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Samsung currently supplies the Apple A6 chip used in the iPhone 5.

But why would Apple go back to Samsung so quickly, having just signed a deal with TSMC?

Well it’s probably all to do with 14nm technology, as Samsung Electronics developed its state of the art 14 nanometer models ahead of TSMC. If Apple wants to remain on the cutting edge, the company needs to sign deals with the most advanced manufactures as soon as possible, in order to secure itself a steady supply of future chips.

This make sense, as Apple is also supposedly exploring a possible deal with chip manufacturer Globalfoundries, which is also aiming to have its own 14nm manufacturing process ready sometime around the end of 2014 or the start of 2015. But so far talks haven’t led to a deal, so an agreement with Samsung could be seen as a safer option.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Samsung will be the sole supplier for Apple’s next-generation processors. It’s likely that Apple is still keen to diversify away from Samsung, and may need a number of manufacturers on board in order to keep up with demand for its future products anyway. Deals with TSMC, Samsung, and potentially Globalfoundries as well, will leave Apple with plenty of supply and choice when it comes to its next-gen processor.

It’s a tad amusing that these two giants can’t seem to get along without each other, despite the constant hostilities in the courts. Perhaps, in the future, the two companies will be much more co-operative, but I won’t hold my breath.

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