By Christian Zibreg on Nov 12, 2013
Yesterday, the unconfirmed news broke out about a surprise tie-in between Apple and GlobalFoundries, the world’s top semiconductor foundry second only to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) which counts Nvidia, Broadcom, Qualcomm and AMD as its clients.
The Albany Times Union newspaper asserted that GlobalFoundries will build Apple’s A-series chips for iOS devices at a new $6 billion facility in upstate New York. The development has led some folks to conjure up that Apple could be finally ditching Samsung for semiconductor manufacture, but that’s not really the case at all. Read on… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 11, 2013
Milpitas, California-headquartered GlobalFoundries, one of the top semiconductor operations in the world, owns and runs cutting-edge multi-billion dollar production facilities all over the globe in places like Germany, Singapore and the United States.
Along with TSMC, GlobalFoundries gets frequently contracted to build various chips for such clients as AMD, Broadcom, Qualcomm and STMicroelectronics. And now, the company has apparently scored a major win, Apple, if a new report is anything to go by.
According to an unnamed source “close to the company” who spoke to the Times Union newspaper, GlobalFoundries may soon start building processors for iPhones, iPads and iPods at its new $6 billion Fab 8 facility in Malta, New York, just north of Albany… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 30, 2013
In a surprise announcement that sent shockwaves throughout the technology industry, Intel said it will open kimono to arch-rival TSMC and begin making chips for third-parties, based on CPU blueprints from the British fabless semiconductor maker ARM Holdings, plc. Apple is among the licensees of ARM’s technology for its own in-house chips which serve as the engine powering the iPhone, iPad and iPod devices.
This is a huge development. Not only will Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor company, now fabricate its own ARM-based 64-bit mobile chips starting next year, it will now undoubtedly compete for the lucrative Apple business, especially given the iPhone maker has long been looking to take its chip-making contract elsewhere… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 30, 2013
Apple has made quite a noise about its brand new chip, the M7 motion coprocessor designed to offload taking sensor measurements from the iPhone 5s’s main A7 processor. Because the M7 requires at least one-sixth of the power versus the 64-bit A7 chip, it can log data from the accelerometer, gyroscope and compass sensors independently of the A7 package, thus allowing for substantial power savings.
The details of how this data is captured and what power savings developers can count on were kept to Apple’s chest until the Argus app made headlines as the first fitness software optimized for the M7 silicon. Here are a few previously unknown details about Apple’s motion coprocessor hardware… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 30, 2013
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… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 27, 2013
Following their initial analysis of the iPhone 5s’s innards, silicon experts at Chipworks have now taken a closer look at the handset’s 64-bit A7 processor to reveal a number of interesting tidbits in their initial low-level chip analysis. Based on transistor-level images of the Apple-designed, Samsung-built package, Chipworks was able to determine that the A7 consists of a dual-core processing core and quad-core graphics, tentatively identified as the four cluster version of Imagination Technologies’s PowerVR Series 6, the G6430.
Apple, along with Intel, is of course an investor with a ten percent stake in Imagination Technologies, the UK-based fabless semiconductor maker. Chipworks also focused on a portion of the A7 chip called Secure Enclave where Apple says fingerprint profile is stored securely and walled off from the entire system, except the Touch ID circuitry… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 25, 2013
According to sources who spoke with an anchor for Fox News Channel, the A7 chip expected to power Apple’s iPhone 5S is “very fast,” nearly a third faster than the A6 silicon ticking inside the current-generation iPhone 5. That’s only half the story as the reporter has also heard there’s a separate chip inside the device devoted to motion tracking.
Oh, and a prominent blogger has independently heard claims that some of the internal iPhone 5S prototypes include a 64-bit flavor of the A7 chip. He’s also learned a couple interesting tidbits concerning the rumored fingerprint sensor, the way it works and how it could lend itself to mobile payments integration… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 1, 2013
Micron Technology on Thursday informed investors it has completed its $2 billion acquisition of Elpida Memory, the third-largest maker of dynamic random access memory chips (DRAM) and an important Apple supplier. The rumored move was expected given Elpida’s been struggling for some time amid heightening competition with SK Hynix and Samsung.
The struggling Japanese chip maker last summer filed for bankruptcy and has since been in talks to sell its business to U.S.-based Micron Technology Corp. Apple placed a huge order with Elpida ahead of the iPhone 5 production, indicating desire to maintain its bargaining power by keeping the memory maker running.
Elpida’s memory products power Apple’s latest iPhones and iPads and are also found inside Google’s Nexus 7 and other non-Apple gadgets… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 15, 2013
A story published this past weekend by a website called SemiAccurate has renewed speculation of Apple’s supposed interest in producing the engine for iDevices at a plant of its own, as opposed to simply designing silicon blueprints in-house and commissioning others to build the chips, as has been the case since 2010.
So if Apple really bought into a fab, as the exclusive story alleges, the non-trivial move would span years to complete while costing billions of dollars.
Worse, Apple would expose itself to unforeseen difficulties not limited to yield issues: running a sophisticated chip-making factory requires a disciplined approach to attracting and retaining highly-trained engineers, one analyst cautioned Monday… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 12, 2013
The SemiAccurate blog is known for a mixed track report in terms of hardware news (hence the name).
For instance, it correctly predicted Apple would switch back to Nvidia’s graphics processors for 2012 MacBooks, but got it all wrong calling for an Intel-to-ARM transition for the Mac lineup by early 2013.
Today’s exclusive story, hidden behind a $1,000 paywall, claims Apple has made the unthinkable by buying into a third-party chip plant.
The semiconductor facility is believed to be operated by United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC), a Taiwan-based chipmaker established more than thirty years ago…
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 16, 2013
New evidence has surface in the form of several Apple job postings advertising for silicon experts for the Orlando, Florida area, where the iPhone maker is rumored to be setting up a brand new shop for custom chip development. Among the seven positions advertised on the Apple Jobs web site are those specifically related to developing and testing processor and mobile graphics hardware… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 30, 2013
Despite the ongoing legal wrangling over mobile technology patents, Samsung to this date remains the only supplier of Apple-designed processors which drive iPhones, iPads and iPods. The South Korean conglomerate has been exclusively building these chips according to Apple’s blueprints at its multi-billion dollar fabrication facility in Austin, Texas.
However, recent chatter increasingly points to rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) possibly stealing the Apple contract from Samsung as Apple looks to further distance itself from its chief rival.
A new report from South Korea alleges Apple has now actually excluded Samsung as a future mobile processor supplier. In turn, TSMC, which is the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, may produce a significant portion, even possibly all of mobile chips for Apple’s next-gen iPhone 6 to be released in 2014… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 7, 2013
A report Wednesday revives the old rumor that the world’s leading chip maker, Intel, is working on a strategic deal to manufacture processors that power Apple’s iPhones, iPads and iPods.
What’s different this time around, though, is the timing: Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini is on his way out and with CEO search still underway, the semiconductor giant could be poised to take its relationship with Apple to the next level.
The gist of the report is that Apple could contract Intel as a foundry, meaning the chip giant would tap its world-class manufacturing expertise to produce iPhone and iPad processors, as designed in-house by Apple, rather than persuade Tim Cook & Co. into adopting Intel’s own mobile Atom x86 chip architecture, which hasn’t made much inroads yet… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 28, 2013
With about four months left until Apple’s worldwide developers conference, chatter intensifies that Apple is re-aligning its suppliers. With both the iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 allegedly spotted in the wild and leaked parts cropping up on Chinese forums, new reports indicate that Apple has substantially cut iPhone 5 screen and chip orders.
And because Apple is the world’s top chip buyer second only to Samsung, any material change in its orders immediately reflects on the entire industry. Little wonder that researches are now calling for a slow down in semiconductor equipment manufacturer orders… Read More
By Ed Sutherland on Jan 23, 2013
South Korea’s Samsung has another reason to crow. After enduring talk that rival Apple would drop its rival for TSMC, demand for Samsung smartphones and tablets made it the largest customer of chips in 2012, replacing the iPhone and iPad maker in the worldwide chip eating challeng, reports said Thursday.
A Gartner report on semiconductor purchases also gives a rare glimpse into how much Apple is spending on chips for its smartphones and tablet devices. According to the researcher, Samsung increased spending on chips nearly double that of the Cupertino firm… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 22, 2013
Morris Chang, Chairman and CEO of the world’s largest semiconductor foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), said in a recent earnings call that his company’s 20 nanometer process technology will outsell the existing 28 nanometer tech in its first two years. “Enough discussions have taken place, with enough customers who have large requirements (on 20nm), to lead us to believe that the volume will be very large”, he said without specifically mentioning Apple.
Of course, TSMC also makes chips for Qualcomm, Nvidia and other tech giants, but recently rumors have swirled that Apple is about to drop Samsung as a chip supplier and turn to TSMC, which will invest $9 billion this year while spending even more in capital expenditure in 2014 as it moves toward the more advanced 20nm and 16nm process technologies… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 18, 2013
Following up on talk that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is prepping to manufacture Apple’s A6X processor and whispers of Tim Cook & Co. negotiating a deal with the foundry to make mobile chips for iOS devices on its 20 nanometer process technology, China Times now quotes Chairman and CEO Morris Chang’s words that TSMC is close to achieving a hundred percent market share on its 28nm process technology.
But why have TSCM’s wafer shipments all of a sudden tripled, allowing it to achieve a virtual monopoly on the 28nm silicon? That’s where the Apple link comes into full view…
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 16, 2013
Samsung for the time being remains an exclusive maker of the Apple-designed engine that powers iPhones, iPads and iPods. Apple’s chips are being fabbed on Samsung’s High-κ metal gate 32 nanometer process at its $14 billion semiconductor plant in Austin, Texas. But not for any much longer.
We’ve been hearing lots of rumors lately that rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, has entered Apple’s supply chain with trial production of Apple’s A6X processor.
As the iPhone maker is reportedly accelerating plans to make a jump to TSMC for all of its mobile chips, now comes word that the Taiwan foundry will pretty soon start building on its 20 nanometer process technology a next-gen processor for a “breakthrough” Apple device… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Dec 21, 2012
Apple has lately been rumored to have been moving some production lines to the United States amid whispers of a $10 billion silicon manufacturing facility being considered in the country. Various reports mention both New York and Oregon for this project, code-named Azalea.
And because of its reported $10 billion construction cost, there are some who suspect Project Azalea is a chip-making plant for Apple’s products aimed at replacing Samsung. Remember, the Galaxy maker semiconductor arm’s $14 billion Austin, Texas facility exclusively churns out Apple-designed mobile chips that serve as the engine for the iPhone and iPad.
The rumor-mill has been adamant that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, will run the upcoming US facility in co-operation with Apple, but now TSMC CEO has issued a somewhat weak denial… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Dec 12, 2012
We’ve suspected for a while now that Apple’s been making moves ultimately aimed at taking its chip contract elsewhere. Clearly Apple ain’t interested (any longer than it needs to) in letting Samsung enjoy an early peek at the technological solutions developed for the engine that drives its iPhones and iPads.
Currently, all of Apple’s in-house designed A-series processors are being built exclusively by Samsung in its $14 billion chip plant in Austin, Texas.
The iPhone maker was also rumored to be contemplating a switch to Intel’s x86 mobile chips for iPads, as outrageous as the very thought of it may seem.
But what if Tim Cook and his newly-minted chief of Technologies and long-time hardware expert Bob Mansfield have a radical solution in mind? A report Wednesday has it that the California firm could be seeking to invest up to ten billion dollars into a dedicated chip fab in New York, presumably in order to take control of its silicon destiny… Read More