Samsung is ramping production of the A6 quad-core application processor for Apple because rival foundry TSMC has yet to stabilize its own production of the same chip, according to a Korea Times report that referenced un-named Apple component suppliers as its sources.
Apple's continued reliance on Samsung's foundry operation, which is making A6 processors on a 28-nm CMOS process out of its wafer fab in Austin Texas, comes despite an increasingly litigious battle between the companies at the system level where both are seeking to prevent the sale of the others smart phones because of alleged patent infringements.
The A6 processors are destined to go into the next iteration of the Apple smartphone, the report said
"Apple has been in talks with Samsung over shipment of its A6 quad-core mobile processor chips to be used in the next iPhone," the report said quoting, but not naming, an executive from an Apple parts supplier based in Korea. "Samsung Electronics will apply its advanced 28-nanometer processing technology to produce qualified A6 mobile APs. TSMC will provide customized chips with designs from Apple, however, the volume will be very small," the report quoted the executive as saying.
"Apple isn’t taking risks. Samsung offers better pricing and capacity commitment for the A6 mobile APs," the reported quoted an executive from another Apple supplier as saying.
The same report said Geesung Choi, Samsung CEO, told reporters that COO Jae-yong Lee flew to the United States to participate in a private memorial service for the late Steve Jobs, Sunday (Oct. 16). Lee will meet with Apple CEO Tim Cook while he is in the United States to discuss several issues, the report said.
Foundry chipmaker TSMC is reported to have started trial manufacturing of the A6 processor for Apple. But TSMC has also been reported as planning to put the IC through another tape-out for the "production design" in the first quarter of 2012.
Apple's A5 is a dual core processor & the die size is already 12 x 10 mm. The A6 is a quad core and even at 28 nm would be quite large. The larger the die the lower the yield, especially at the bleeding edge node.
There was a report that TSMC would prefer a multi - chip package for the A6 using Si interposer.
Does anyone know whats pushing TSMC towards that ? What about the A6 at Samsung ?
As i said in the article: fighting in court over smartphone patents and market introductions; supportive buyer-customer relations at the chip level.
One might think it strange that Samsung doesn't just cut Apple off, but if it did that it might damage Samsung's ability to sell chips in the future and its protestations of Chinese Walls between divisions.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.