A 20nm test chip from TSMC

A 20nm test chip from TSMC

Oh, Digitimes. This is the 4th year in a row that you’ve reported that Apple would be moving its chip business away from Samsung in Texas to the friendly local confines of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). This time however, the report hedges the bet saying only a portion of the production will move to Taiwan. It also sources a Korean publication Hankyung.

Apple shifting production of its iPhone and iPad chips away from Samsung to TSMC is one of those constant rumors, dating back to at least 2011.

Taiwan-based Commercial Times said a trial with Apple was set to kick off in Q1 for the A6X chip, which didn’t happen. DigiTimes, a site not noted for its accuracy, regularly reports that Apple is shifting its chip production to TSMC, and claimed back in June that this would be the case for the A8 chip, saying that production would start in early 2014. Since we’re not expecting the iPhone 6 until the fall, it’s hard to see why this would be the case.

The WSJ reported back in June of this year that a deal had finally been struck, but big investments by Samsung in its new Austin, Texas plant suggest that multi-year contracts are likely in place, and The Korea Economic Daily is claiming that Samsung will still make 30-40 percent of the A8 processors in next year’s iPhone 6.

This is said to be TMSC experiencing difficulties (presumably yield rates) with its manufacture of 20nm chips. It was recently confirmed that the A7 chip in the iPhone 5s was made by Samsung.


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6 Responses to “Rumor: Apple will be moving to TSMC for A8 chip production for the 4th year in a row”

  1. I guess there is bad blood between these two companies in ways I don’t fully understand, but I consider it a benefit to be able to look at this from a rational 3rd person perspective and say why not embrace coopetitition if it makes your business successful. For as much as consumers want to bash Samsung and Apple may want to distance themselves from them, they remain one of their best suppliers.

    A recent great example of this was the rollout of the Macbook Pros with Retina Displays in which Samsung’s displays were the highest quality supplied to Apple.

    If it makes your business quality, reliable and high quality, I don’t care for sentimental rebellious emotions, embrace the coopetition.


    • Ben Lovejoy says:

      Indeed, and I think this is likely Apple’s view too – the idea of it completely abandoning Samsung has always been third-party rumour.


    • The issue with Apple and Samsung is that of Samsung business ethics in question. Samsung is a supplier of components and maker of end user consumer products. As a supplier to Apple (or other electronics makers), Samsung uses its intelligence on supply chain to gain insight to the product roadmap of its competitors. Then supply (or steal as some calls it) the intelligence to its consumer product division to create a product to compete against their own customers. In the electronics industry this practice is extremely unethical. The patent infringement case win in Apple vs. Samsung is as a result of those practices.

      The move to TSMC for Apple as its chip supplier is a necessary one. TSMC is the largest contract manufacturer in the world. They make 70% of worlds contracted semiconductors chips and only builds semiconductors and nothing else. The supplier relationship between Apple and TSMC is a very clean one. TSMC is purely a supplier and will not compete against Apple. This is what Apple wants.


  2. Oh for crying out loud! Now the analysts/rumor mills can say they were right no matter what happens.


  3. RP says:

    If Digitimes continues in this manner some will start to whisper that are becoming Piper Jaffray-esque…