iPhone 5s promo (A7 chip closeup 002)

The sometimes-reliable Taiwanese publication, DigiTimes, has been saying for years that Apple was shifting its chip manufacture away from Samsung and towards its rival, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

In its new report Monday, the trade publication now claims that TSMC will be responsible for the bulk of orders for Apple’s next-generation processor, the A8 chip, with Samsung taking care of about one-third of orders…

DigiTimes says, based on a report published by Hankyung in Korea:

TSMC is expected to cover 60-70% of total production for the A8, while Samsung will remain a contract manufacturer responsible for the remaining 30-40%, the report said.

You should apply a healthy dose of skepticism because DigiTimes back in March stated TSMC was competing for contracts to build the A8 chip, starting early-2014.

The Korea Economic Daily reported yesterday that Samsung will account for about one-third of the A8 chip orders. The A8 is expected to power the next-generation iPhone, likely the iPhone 6 which should be expected in 2014.

A recent transistor-level analysis has identified the 64-bit A7 processor inside the iPhone 5s to have been built on Samsung’s 28-nanometer Hi K metal Gate process technology that the South Korean conglomerate uses for its own Galaxy S4 Exynos processor.

Apple says the A7 chip packs in over a billion transistors on a same-sized die as its predecessor, the A6 processor inside the iPhone 5.

The publication explains:

Samsung recently stepped up the development of its 20nm process node, a September 23 report quoted industry sources as saying. Samsung is looking to start offering 20nm process technology in early 2014, and plans to build up capacity for 30,000 wafers operating at the node, according to the report.

Samsung has invested north of $14 billion in its Austin, Texas facility which exclusively builds Apple-designed processors. In fact, meeting Apple’s huge volume requirements has proven a tough nut to crack for the world’s top foundries so we’re not surprised TSMC has been experiencing ongoing yield problems for years now.

A7 Chip

TSMC, which has its headquarters and main operations located in the Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Hsinchu, Taiwan, apparently couldn’t get past the A7 risk production after running production trials.

The Wall Street Journal claimed in June Apple and TSMC had finally signed a production contract to build the engine which powers the iPhone and iPad on its cutting-edge 14-nanometer process technology. Although TSMC has been experiencing issues meeting Apple’s exacting standards, this isn’t saying the foundry won’t start mass-production of the Apple chip soon.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
TSMC is making the 28nm GeForce GTX 680 GPU for Nvidia, pictured above.

Apple is likely to split chip orders between TSMC and Samsung in order to retain its negotiation power and spread risk. If yo ask me, TSMC will start building smaller quantities of Apple chips until the iPhone maker becomes confident in the foundry’s ability to meet its large volumes.

  • Moi

    I want apple to give up samsung , cause once you say my iPhone works smoother than your s4 he says “whatever by the end it’s samsung that makes iPhone chips for Apple, so suck it up “

    • duh

      The only people that care about this nonsense are apple and samsung fanboys. Normal sane people dont give 2 shits.

      • Moi

        No I’m not a fanboy but it annoys me that someone thinks he has credits on me

      • omrishtam

        but samsung is only the manifacture…they dont design it…they just make it

      • Kurt

        Umm…now who designs and makes the screens, ram, etc in the iPhones :-s

      • Rowan09

        Not sure about the ram but the screens are not made by Samsung, it’s LG and Sharp. I would know because I buy screens for repairs all the time. Samsugn specialize in Amoled screens.

      • Kurt

        for years Samsung and LG have made the screens and everyone wanted the Samsung screens. They may specialize in AMOLED but they make the best LCDs also. LG’s screens have always been yellow and have ghosting problems.Thought sharp only made 20-25% of the screens and that in the past year or so?

      • Rowan09

        I understand what your saying but for the 4s to 5 I believe it’s LG and Sharp. Samsung provides the main processor and flash memory. Nevertheless this would not be a bad move from Apple TMSC is more than capable, it’s not like they’re getting rid of Samsung they’re just minimizing their impact. Samsung is a big competitor to Apple so this is a very smart move.

      • wicked4u2c

        Take pride to a reasonable degree. Knowledge is power!

    • Maxim∑

      Right Samsung MAKES the chips they do not DESIGN it

    • not a spark

      I don’t think most Samsung fanboys think that, only the stupid ones. After it is Apples design. Also why do you care so much what the Samsung fanboys say? At the end of the day if your iPhone runs smoother you should be able to tell they are just doing damage control and trying to convince themselves so you don’t have to get all but hurt.

      • Kurt

        RAM, Screen, etc…it’s from Samsung. They build us great quality components that’s not a reason to hate them.

      • wicked4u2c

        Screen by Corning. The only thing Samsung builds is the Chip for the iPhone.

      • Juan Herrera

        The A7 and Qualcomm’s MDM9615M 4G LTE modem.. cuz of the Samsung DRAM and the Samsung made LTE Baseband processor.. other than that, nothing else. You speak of the older apple products, they’ve been breaking away for a while now.. dependency on these items well be reduced soon too..

    • wicked4u2c

      Designed by Apple, Made by Samsung. Basically Apple tells how it’s made for Samsung.

      And for reference, Samsung/Android users, based on majority, are very ignorant. So ignore them.

      • not a spark

        No way a majority of android users are that ignorant, espically compared to iOS users. After all as their are so many android devices people will often research and learn more about their devices and in turn their competition.

      • wicked4u2c

        Had a hard time reading that. But in other matters, what you say I partially agree on. But I still believe they are also additionally immature and I stand my opinion.

  • Jimothy

    Wonder if the quality of the chip will change. Hopefully it’s a change for the better if it changes at all.

  • Maxim∑

    Same thing was said for A5X,A6 A7 and now A8…

    Samsung has one of the best fabrication plants in the world and they have invested a lot in it. Not a necessary move from Apple

    • Rowan09

      It is a necessary move. Samsung is Apples competitor and why would you want to give your competitor so much control over your devices? I believe they just inked the deal last year so it’s believable that this can happen. TSMC is the worlds largest dedicated semiconductor company they do work for Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, etc so it’s not like they are not capable. Apple is still designing the chips so they are just doing the manufacturing.

  • bigtalk

    iphone 6 better look different and have a bigger screen

    • Kurt

      I’d buy an iPhablet no problem.