A report out of DigiTimes this morning claims that TSMC has reached a deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips for future Apple devices. However, as is often the case with DigiTimes, there are a few causes for concern surrounding the report. Leaving the site’s track record on other rumors aside, we must point out that rumors of TSMC supplying chips for Apple’s device are nothing new. In fact, DigiTimes itself reported back in 2011 that Apple would tap the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in a move away from its long-time supplier and biggest rival Samsung. Needless to say, it hasn’t happened yet, and there’s no proof as of yet to back up follow up reports from last year claiming Apple entered an agreement with the company. DigiTimes isn’t even the first to report it this year:
Back in January Taiwan-based Commercial Times said a trial with Apple was set to kick off in Q1 for the A6X chip, but today Samsung continues to be the sole supplier of Apple’s Ax chips for iOS devices.
TSMC will start to manufacture Apple’s A8 chips in small volume in July 2013, and substantially ramp up its 20nm production capacity after December, the sources revealed. The foundry will complete installing a batch of new 20nm fab equipment, which is capable of processing 50,000 wafers, in the first quarter of 2014, the sources said.
Making today’s report a little less believable is the fact that DigiTimes says a TSMC manufactured “Apple A8 processor will be found in a new iPhone slated for release in early 2014.” Apple is of course largely expected to include a next-generation “A7” processor in its next iPhone. If Apple is to keep with its fall release schedule as we expect, it’s hard to imagine where an A8-powered next-gen iPhone will fit into its cycle for early 2014. The report adds that “A9/A9X chips will be used in the newer-generation iPhone and iPad products.”
The idea that Apple is looking to move its reliance on a sole chip supplier away from one of its biggest competitors is something that we’ve been hearing for a while now, but two years later Apple hasn’t made the switch. There could be truth to the rumors that Apple is considering a switch to TSMC in the coming years, but big investments by Samsung in its new Austin, Texas plant currently manufacturing chips for iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products indicate multi-year contracts are likely in place.