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

Apple A9 (mockup 002)

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.

ZDNet was able to confirm that Samsung is producing nearly one-third of the total volume of the A8 chip, with TSMC responsible for the remaining 70 percent.

This aligns nicely with a June report by The Wall Street Journal that Samsung would produce sophisticated A9 chips to power Apple’s next iPhone and iPad devices in 2015.

DigiTimes, the hit-and-miss Taiwanese trade publication, later added that rival TSMC would be responsible for the bulk of A9 production, claiming that Samsung received first orders for the new processor back in June.

Soon after, Retuers came out with a report claiming Apple was interested in shifting production of the 14-nanometer chips from TSMC to Samsung.

The 14nm technology allows for even smaller components than the two billion transistors packed inside the 20-nanometer A8 processor, which powers the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 faster graphics

Smaller components help reduce both the size of the overall package and the distance the electrons must travel. In turn, the A9 chip should yield a faster performance and even greater power savings than the A8 processor.

By comparison, Apple says the A8 is twenty percent faster (with fifty percent faster graphics) while consuming less power than its predecessor.

In spite of ongoing rumors claiming that Apple contracted out next-generation mobile chip manufacture to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on an exclusive basis, all checks indicate that the iPhone maker is playing it safe for the time being.

Silver iPhone 6 6 Plus side by side

Although a teardown analysis of the A8 chip conducted by iFixit and Chipworks has determined that the A8 processor is being built by TSMC, other reports insist that Apple commissioned both Samsung and TSMCto build the chip.

The Cupertino firm is known for tapping multiple suppliers and contract manufacturers in order to minimize risk and exposure while squeezing the best prices out of them.

And given Apple designs its mobile chips in-house and that its semiconductor needs are measured in hundreds of million units annually, you’d be hard-pressed to find semiconductor companies other than Samsung and TSMC with the sophistication and scale needed to meet Apple’s stringent chip demands.