TSMC reportedly lands contract to build A8X processor for iPad Pro

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 15, 2014

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s leading independent semiconductor foundry, has landed a contract to fabricate Apple’s upcoming A8X mobile processor, Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported Wednesday.

The chip, which leaked on claimed photographs earlier this week, is said to feature faster graphics.

In addition to an improved GPU, it reportedly incorporates twice as much RAM as its A8 counterpart, which powers the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As such, the A8X should power Apple’s rumored ‘iPad Pro’ tablet with an ultra high-resolution 12.9-inch screen. Read More

 

GT Advanced requests permission to shut down sapphire plant

By Cody Lee on Oct 10, 2014

Apple partner GT Advanced has asked the court’s permission to “wind down” operations at its manufacturing plant, reports Recode. The news comes less than a year after GT announced its high-profile deal to make sapphire for Apple, and just a few days after it filed for bankruptcy.

On Monday, the company shocked investors by announcing that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It’s believed that GT spent most of its cash trying to produce sapphire display covers in time for the iPhone 6, but fell short of expectations and lost out on the order. Read More

 

DigiTimes: 12″ Retina MacBook Air in limited production now

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 8, 2014

Apple’s rumored MacBook Air with a twelve-inch Retina screen has allegedly entered limited production, according to sources with Apple’s supply chain Wednesday morning who spoke to DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication.

Apple has reportedly commissioned contract manufacturer Quanta Computer to start building the ultra-thin notebook in small volumes in October, with output expected to increase gradually beginning November.

Apple is holding a media event next Thursday so a Retina MacBook Air could be on tap along with new iPads, a (possibly) refreshed Apple TV hardware and what not. Read More

 

Samsung confirms building 14nm A9 processors for 2015 iPhones and iPads

By Christian Zibreg on Oct 2, 2014

Echoing previous rumors, Samsung of South Korea confirmed to reporters Thursday that it will start churning out mobile processors for Apple before end of the year, ZDNet reported. The chips, likely to be branded under the “A9” moniker, will be manufactured on Samsung’s cutting-edge 14-nanometer process technology.

The confirmation came through the mouth of Kim Ki-nam, president of Samsung’s semiconductor-making arm and head of System LSI business.

Speaking to reporters at company headquarters in Seoul, Ki-nam quipped that his company’s fortunes “will improve positively” once sales are boosted thanks to the lucrative Apple chip deal. The new mobile processor should make their way into 2015 iPhone and iPad devices. Read More

 

Quanta Computer to kick off mass production of Apple Watch in January 2015

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 30, 2014

As Apple shoots to bring its smartwatch to market in early-2015, news reports Tuesday asserted that the Cupertino firm has commissioned contract manufacturer Quanta Computer to start mass producing Apple Watches in January 2015, citing supply chain rumors first mentioned by Apple Daily [Google Translate] and reposted by GforGames.

Apparently Taiwan-based Quanta is the only manufacturer tasked with building the device, the story goes, contradicting earlier rumors that mentioned both Quanta and Inventec, an iPad supplier, as Apple Watch manufacturers.

The Apple Daily report gives hope that the fashionable smartwatch could hit store shelves in time for Valentine’s Day 2015. For what it’s worth, a recent article by The Information alleged that “Apple would be lucky” to ship the device by Valentine’s Day. Read More

 

Apple pushing Foxconn to hire aggressively to cope with strong iPhone 6 demand

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 30, 2014

As Apple’s recently released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus continue to face strong demand from fans around the world, the Cupertino firm has reacted by pushing its favorite contract manufacturer, Foxconn, to hire more workers to help assemble the handsets, Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported Tuesday.

A large-scale aggressive hiring for Foxconn facilities in Shenzhen and Zhengzhou is currently underway, with sources noting that working on assembly lines is no longer as attractive as before for workers in China. Read More

 

Despite its highest daily output ever, Foxconn still struggling to boost iPhone 6 production

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 17, 2014

Despite huge investment it’s made in production lines, workers, sophisticated machinery and tooling equipment, Foxconn, the world’s largest contract fabricator, is having issues keeping up with massive iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus demand, The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog reported Wednesday.

“For iPhone 6 Plus, we are still ramping up the production line,” sources tell WSJ. ”Another reason for the limited supply is the shortage of 5.5-inch displays”.

Another person at a display component supplier told the paper that Foxconn is scrapping almost half of the 5.5-inch panels due to quality control issues. The output rate of the 4.7-inch display is reportedly better at 85 percent.

Manufacturing woes stem from the in-cell display technology which allows for a thinner and lighter screen assembly by integrating touch sensors into the liquid crystal display. Read More

 

Apple supplier accused of forcing overtime and endangering workers

By Cody Lee on Sep 4, 2014

An Apple supplier has once gain come under scrutiny for labor violations. Both Green America and China Labor Watch are reporting that Catcher, who is responsible for making iPad and MacBook casings for the company, is endangering and exploiting its workers.

At its factory in Suqian, China, Catcher is accused of failing to provide adequate protective equipment for employees handling toxic materials, and various other safety violations. The manufacturer is also charged with forcing overtime: 10+ hours per day, 6 days a week. Read More

 

Chinese sources: mass production of 4.7″ iPhone 6 begins, 5.5″ and new iPads start in September

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 25, 2014

As the purported parts and cases thought to belong to the iPhone 6 continue leaking out, Apple is now said to have started mass production of a 4.7-inch handset variant. As for a bigger 5.5-inch version, the handset is understood to enter production in September, alongside upcoming new iPads.

If true, there may after all be some truth to the rumors that the two phones won’t launch simultaneously in order to avoid cannibalization. Just yesterday, for instance, the hit-and-miss DigiTimes said the 4.7 and 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 6 will launch separately as Apple wants to “avoid competition between the two models”Read More

 

WSJ: TSMC starts shipping 20nm A8 chips to Apple

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 10, 2014

It’s been long rumored that Apple for years has been working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent chip foundry, on building its in-house designed processors that power the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Apple TV devices.

Thus far, several conflicting reports have indicated that TSMC has been running test production of the upcoming A8 processor for months now, with other sources insisting that the Taiwanese chip foundry was unsuccessful kickstarting mass-production over ongoing yield issues.

A report Thursday by The Wall Street Journal has it on good authority that TSMC finally began shipping its first batch of microprocessors to Apple in the second quarter… Read More

 

Foxconn confirms it’s starting to deploy robots to help assemble iPhones

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 7, 2014

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd., also known in the Western world as Foxconn, the world’s largest contract manufacturer, will soon start deploying sophisticated robots to help assemble iPhones, CEO and Chairman Terry Gou announced during a shareholder meeting Monday.

Foxconn assembles a range of consumer electronics products for other companies, including iPhones and iPads. The plan to replace factory workers with robots was first announced two years ago, but hit roadblocks due to high cost of robot deployment… Read More

 

Foxconn and Pegatron go on hiring sprees as iPhone 6 production ramps up

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 22, 2014

As the iPhone 6 enters production over the next few months, a new report claims that Apple manufacturing partners Foxconn and Pegatron are in the process of recruiting new employees from mainland China. Foxconn in particular is said to be hiring a record-breaking 100,000 employees to help assemble the smartphone, which could be released in both 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models…  Read More

 

Tim Cook praises ‘American manufacturing expertise’ and AppleCare staff

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 6, 2014

Apple’s boss Tim Cook was photographed looking over the shoulder of a factory worker helping assemble a Mac Pro at Apple’s manufacturing plant in Austin, Texas. The CEO tweeted out the image on his Twitter account as part of Apple’s ongoing effort to promote bringing back (some) manufacturing jobs to the United States.

“Watching the Mac Pro come together in Austin yesterday, thanks to a team loaded with American manufacturing expertise,” reads the tweet.

Although the new Mac Pro is not actually ‘Made in USA’, much of assembly work happens at the Austin plant in which Apple poured in about $100 million… Read More

 

iPhone 6 models could launch sooner than expected

By Christian Zibreg on May 27, 2014

Apple is expected to launch larger-format iPhones this year and the current crop of rumors are confidently pointing towards the 4.7-incher being released around September, with the bigger 5.5-inch model reportedly delayed until year-end or into early-2015 over component issues.

A new report by DigiTimes, a hit-and-miss Taiwanese trade publication, alleges that the launches of the new handsets could be closer than expected after all. Specifically, it seems Apple has commissioned its manufacturing partners to start churning out the bigger model within a month into the manufacture of the 4.7-inch variant… Read More

 

TSMC reportedly ships first batch of Touch ID sensors for upcoming iPhones and iPads

By Christian Zibreg on May 7, 2014

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s top semiconductor foundry, has reportedly shipped the first batch of the second-generation Touch ID sensors to Apple for use in the upcoming second-generation iPad Air, third-generation iPad mini and of course iPhone 6.

As iDownloadBlog exclusively reported earlier this month, code fragments in iOS 7.1 indicate that Touch ID is coming to iPads, possibly this year and to other iOS devices as well, a discovery further corroborated by previous supply chain reportsRead More

 

iPhablet to be pricey due to costly sapphire screen?

By Christian Zibreg on May 6, 2014

SEC filings have confirmed that Apple partnered recently with a company called GT Advanced which operates a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona that makes sapphire components. We also know for a fact that Apple prepaid more than half a billion dollars to buy sophisticated furnaces and equipment for the plant, securing multi-year output of sapphire parts on an exclusive basis.

Manufacture of sapphire components commenced recently, according to sources. Now, industrial-scale production like this points beyond sapphire components for the Touch ID sensor and the iSight camera lens protection.

Watchers speculate that Apple’s phablet – an iPhone 6, if you will – has a massive sapphire-hardened 5.5-inch screen. But, a new post on China’s micro-blogging platform cautions that the rising cost of sapphire display production may hinder Apple’s ability to roll out the technology across its entire iOS device lineup… Read More

 

Apple’s Unibody enclosure manufacturer apparently commissioned to build iPhone 6 metal casings

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 23, 2014

The metal casing of the next iPhone will be made by Catcher Technology, according to Far East media outlets who on Wednesday relayed analyst notes by investment firms Barclays and Morgan Stanley.

Apparently, Catcher has secured a nice chunk of metal casing orders for the upcoming iPhone 6.

If true, this suggests that the iPhone maker is currenly in the process of cherry-picking suppliers that will provide components for the handset.

A report recently claimed that mass production of a 4.7-inch iPhone model is scheduled to commence in July, ahead of a rumored September introduction… Read More

 

Samsung-GlobalFoundries deal gives Apple’s chip production greater flexibility

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 18, 2014

As Apple continues to move anything it can away from Samsung as a result of heightened competition, fierce rivalry and an ugly patent spat between the two technology giants, Samsung seems to be doing the opposite, hoping to to please Apple’s enormous appetite for mobile processors powering iOS devices.

More than a thousand in-house Apple engineers design chips like the A7 processor and the M7 motion coprocessor. The former, the mobile industry’s first 64-bit processor, serves as the engine that drives the latest crop of iOS devices like the iPad Air, the iPad mini with Retina display and the iPhone 5s.

To manufacture these things in volume according to its blueprints, Apple relies on some of the biggest of the chip-making services known as foundries because it doesn’t have or operate its own semiconductor plant, an investment upward of $10 billion.

Samsung semiconductor arm has thus far churned out all Apple-designed mobile chips. Moreover, the company remains adamant to do so in the future despite its straining relationship with Apple and persistent talk of the iPhone maker throwing itself into the arms of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry.

Samsung and GlobalFoundries, the Santa Clara, California headquartered chip foundry, yesterday signed a global partnership to standardize mobile chip production around the same 14nm FinFET process technology. The deal gives Apple the flexibility to build its A-series processors at both foundries, which was previously impossible due to the foundries’ incompatible production processes… Read More

 

Samsung one step closer to commercializing ultrathin graphene screens for wearables

By Christian Zibreg on Apr 4, 2014

Samsung has been the world’s largest maker of LCD panels since 2002. By 2004, the conglomerate was the world’s top manufacturer of OLED panels accounting for a 40 percent market share worldwide and as of 2010 has a commanding 98 percent share of the global AMOLED market.

Small wonder that Apple used to source most of its screens for iOS devices from Samsung up until 2012, when Tim Cook & Co. began slowly shifting display orders away from the Galaxy maker amid the ongoing patent spat.

But Samsung is not standing still. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal Friday, the Galaxy maker has claimed significant progress on graphene, described as the next wonder material… Read More

 

Alleged iPhone 6 production images show protruding camera lens, rounded LED flash

By Christian Zibreg on Mar 31, 2014

Is Apple’s next iPhone really going to have an unsightly camera bulge on the back akin to Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and many other Android handsets out there? You bet it will, if questionable images said to depict an iPhone 6 in trial production are anything to go by.

While there’s no way of determining the veracity of these photographs, we’ve managed to spot a few discrepancies which cast doubt on their legitimacy, so you too are advised to apply some skepticism… Read More

 
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