Apple’s forthcoming S-refresh of the iPhone — let’s call it an ‘iPhone 6s’ — is likely going to run an in-house designed ‘A9’ mobile processor and as much as 75 percent of the chips will be manufactured by Samsung, Reuters reported Monday citing a story in the South Korean newspaper Maeil Business.
Samsung is going to make the chips from its factory in Austin, Texas though it’s unclear how much the contract is worth (likely billions) and which supplier has picked up the remaining 25 percent of orders.
Taipei Times last month said that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will remain the major supplier of the A9 processor. Samsung on its part confirmed as far back as in October 2014 that it would start producing the A9 chips before the end of 2014.
The A9 should be built on Samsung’s 14-nanometer process technology, as opposed to the 20-nanometer tech used in the existing A8 and A8X chips that power Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads. A8/A8X orders are split between TSMC and Samsung, with the former accounting for about 70 percent of the output.
Moving to the smaller 14-nanometer process will result in a faster performing A9 chip that will conserve more power: the smaller the transistors, the less power is required as electrons need only travel a much shorter distance.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects that starting next year, TSMC will pick up a vast majority of orders for an ‘A10’ chip to be used in an ‘iPhone 7,’ in addition to orders for an ‘S2’ system-on-a-chip for the second-generation Apple Watch and an ‘A10X’ processor for 2016 iPads and a rumored ARM-powered Mac notebook.