LONDON – Foundry chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. has started making the ARM-based A6 processor Apple on a trial basis, according to a Reuters report that cited an unnamed source.
The move by Apple to TSMC and away from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has been widely expected as relations between the companies at the system level have deteriorated. Samsung with its Android-based tablet computers and smartphones is a big competitor to Apple with its iPad and iPhone.
However, Reuters' source said that TSMC manufacturing is on trial with Apple and orders will depend on the yield the foundry can achieve.
Samsung has been the sole supplier of the previous iterations of the Apple processor, the A4 and the A5. The A6 is rumored to be quad-core processor implemented in a 28-nm manufacturing process.
One possibility is that Apple could seek to qualify both Samsung and TSMC and operate them as mutual second-sources and moving orders to maintain downward price pressure. Related links and articles:
Apple should have turned to TSMC well before now. Even though the result of this trial is not satisfactory, I don't think Apple will then stop there and turn back to Samsung as the demand for their product is huge. I just wonder which company, besides Samsung and TSMC, now is large enough fulfill Apple's big appetite.
I am actually surprised that Apple hasn't tried this with a foundry before now. For products as popular and in-demand as the iPod/iPad/iPhone, I would have expected them to move a viable second source already on key components. Perhaps they have but it was not as public as the situation is now vis a vis competition with Samsung, so they managed to keep it under wraps.
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