DigiTimes is today reporting on claims from industry sources who say that Apple has signed a partnership agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The agreement will see TSMC produce the A6 chip as previously reported but also the A6’s successor, presumably dubbed the A7.
It now means that Samsung is no longer the exclusive manufacturer of chips for Apple’s iOS devices, which could be related to the current legal battles between the two companies. Sources have also told DigiTimes that TSMC has secured a favourable price, with little impact on TSMC’s profitability.
Apple and TSMC, however, have not yet talked about backend manufacturing, the sources said. It is likely that Apple will have TSMC and the other dedicated packaging and testing house split the orders due to TSMC’s limited available capacity for backend services, the sources speculated.
Last month a flurry of reports suggested that Apple might release a new model of the iPad that would be targeted at ‘Pro’ users and featuring a Retina display – many dubbed it the iPad HD. That suggestion (or at least the schedule) seems less reliable today with Taiwan Economic News citing sources within the chipmaking industry that claim the A6 processor won’t be available until at least the second quarter of next year with trials of the A6 only just beginning in earnest now.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor foundry by market shares now, has allegedly started trial production of the A6 processor in cooperation with Apple Inc., with the production design to be taped out in the first quarter of next year and scheduled to be publicly unveiled in the second quarter at the earliest, according to industry sources
As previous reports have noted, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) is producing the A6 chip, which would be the central component of the iPad ‘Pro’. The chip is said to be extremely-low powered whilst far exceeding the processing capabilities of the A4 and A5 chips because of a new 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies. Darrell Etherington of GigaOm explains that this differs from the previous layered designs because “the 3D stacking tech will allow layers to be integrated vertically and horizontally into one single circuit”.
A report from Reuters is claiming that Apple has begun trialling production of an A6 processor with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) ahead of an expected 2012 launch. If true it would be a movement away from Samsung, which for the A4 and A5 processor, has been Apple’s sole manufacturing partner.
Such a move would presumably be in part be due to the current legal battle between Apple and Samsung that began earlier this year. As for what the A6 brings, analysts are expecting the processor could be a quad-core chip, a jump from the current dual-core A5 chip and single-core A4 chip.
A final decision has not yet been made on whether TSMC would produce the commercial, high-volume quantities, but TSMC is well prepared for that – they are the largest contract chip manufacturer in the world. CNet notes that analyst Gus Richard told them this month that Intel could be an option as they have been aggressively seeking more business with Apple