I think unlikely for apple to move from one exclusive supplier to another. Good for everyone if 3-way competition Glo-Fo, Samsung, TSMC. TSMC almost too big to do an exclusive deal anyway without impacting other major customer.
GF and Samsung also easy to move between for customer...any thoughts on capacity and utilization? I hear GF New York fab still not fully producing many years after building.
I agree. Apple's best bet is to use them all and pit them against one another in competition. I believe many companies do this. But the thing I don't quite understand is: this is very complex technology. Can they all do it? Will all of the chips hit the same performance specs, regardless of who builds them?
Michael Campbell, a vice president of engineering in Qualcomm's chip design group, said FinFET structures in one foundry are "similar, but not the same" as those in another foundry. "You can only etch in certain directions and etch tools are common—that drives some similarities--but [foundries] use different in tricks in spatial walls and diffusion," he said.
Dylan has good questions, but I have slightly different answers. It makes sense for Apple to use different sources for chips - agreed. The reason to do that is, yes, heighten competition, but it also provides alternatives for the supply chain if one of the companies is disabled for some reason -- flood, earthquake, political upheaval, whatever. Will all the chips work the same way? Hopefully, they'll all support iOS the same way that AMD vs Intel support Windows -- not exactly the same, but close enough.
@the_floating_ gate: Agree. Clearly it would be better for Samsung or TSMC if they had an exclusive deal with Apple. Competition means lower average price per wafer. But from Apple's perspective, you know that they want to have choices and price leverage.
Rick, your point is well taken. We do see these reports fairly frequently and at the end of the day, nobody outside of Apple or the foundries truly knows who is building the chips.
I also agree with you that the Apple-Samsung relationship is good theater. as for whether or not it matters, I for one would say yes. Samsung has been making great strides in increasing its foundry business, and Apple is obviously a major, major customer.
There are some collateral benefits to both sides (Samsung & Apple) in doing business with each other. Each will be constantly gauging what the other is capable of so it keeps their teams on their toes.
Perhaps it is also the realization that fight between equals destroys both that leads them to cooperate and compete.
One would therefore hope that the deal betweent he two is beneficial to the end customer!
It has long been IC Insights opinion that Apple will move away from using Samsung as a foundry but very very slowly. It should be remembered that Samung has been a good supplier at the chip level to Apple—it has given Apple access to essentially all of the capacity it has needed, offers leading edge technology to Apple, and most likely provides Apple with good pricing (including bundling of processor, DRAM, and flash memory supply). The ability to supply Apple with processors, DRAM, and flash is one aspect of its association with Apple that just cannot be met by TSMC and GlobalFoundries.