A report from Times Union newspaper today claims Apple could be looking to GlobalFoundries to make chips for the iPhone and iPad at its “Fab 8” plant in Malta, New York (via MacRumors). It’s unclear if the move would be to reduce its dependence on Samsung, its current manufacturing partner for the iPhone and iPad system-on-a-chip, but Times Union says Samsung will go to Fab 8 at least initially to assist GlobalFoundries in preparing to build the chips:
Samsung Electronics, which currently makes the logic microprocessors used in Apple’s popular iPhone and iPad devices at its Austin, Texas fab, will help with the start-up of the Apple program, ensuring that Apple will have a second U.S. source for chips for the popular smart phones and tablets. Logic chips are the workhorse chips that are essentially the brains of a smart phone… It’s unclear if GlobalFoundries will be making the chips with Samsung as the customer on behalf of Apple, or if Apple will be the direct customer, with Samsung helping set up the operation to mirror what it does in Austin. Either way, Apple will be the ultimate customer.
There have been rumors for years that Apple is attempting to reduce is reliance on Samsung, one of its top supplier of parts for the iPhone and iPad but also its biggest competitor in the smartphone space. Most of those rumors have pointed to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., but reports back in July claimed Apple was in talks with TSMC competitor GlobalFoundries.
While it’s not exactly proof that Apple is ditching Samsung– especially since Samsung is also reportedly moving into GlobalFoundries’ new Technology Development Center (Fab 8.1) that’s currently under construction next door– it would give Apple a second source for chips in the U.S. outside Samsung’s Austin plant.