September 15, 2011

Broadcom is a major Apple supplier, providing both WiFi+Bluetooth and GPS chips for iPhone 4, pictured above. Image courtesy of iFixit

DigiTimes reported yesterday that TSMC’s expected third-quarter revenues will exceed July guidance, thanks to some “rush” orders from their customers which count such fabless chip makers as Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek and MStar Semiconductor. Bloomberg’s supply chain analyst Richard Davenport is convinced TSMC’s revenue boost is linked to Broadcom:

Broadcom is the largest link between Apple and Taiwan Semiconductor. Broadcom appears to be a likely candidate for Taiwan Semiconductor’s rush orders.

How can he tell Apple is behind this supposed Broadcom order? First of all, all the other semiconductor makers – with the exception of Broadcom – have reduced their estimates amid weakening economy. Add on top of that TSMC’s larger-than-expected revenue estimate and you get a positive anomaly amid the current semiconductor slump. At this moment, Apple may be the sole company that could have placed such a materially impacting order, most likely for iPhone/iPad parts.

The notion is shared by William Blair & Co. chip analyst Anil Doradla. He said the last-minute order could be the result of a new Apple deal for iPhone chips with Broadcom. After all, Apple is Qualcom’s largest customer, accounting for an estimated eleven percent of sales. Broadcom supplies Apple with the WiFi+Bluetooth silicon and the GPS chip  for iPad and iPhone and has been a supplier since the original iPhone. However, this “rushed” order may not be related to iPhone 5, Davenport warns:

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September 8, 2011

We heard back in March that Apple might have been considering giving its chip making contract to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Reuters and Taiwan Economic News later followed-up, claiming TSMC had already begun test runs of Apple’s A6 processor. Per both stories, the A6 chip will be manufactured on TSMC’s 28-nanometer process and is coming in the second quarter of 2012, conveniently matching the expected iPad 3 arrival.

DigiTimes this morning quoted TSMC’s head or research and development Shang-yi Chiang who confirms his company is gearing up for mass manufacturing of 28-nanometer chips:

Chiang claimed that TSMC has received enough orders to fully utilize its 28nm production capacity. Its 28nm process technology will be available for mass production in early 2012, Chiang said.

He also said TSMC will begin research on the 14-nanometer process next year and expects to begin volume production on the node in 2015. They’ll be using 18-inch wafers to process 14-nanometer chips because it helps bring production costs down, which should be music to Apple’s ears. The report doesn’t mention Apple directly, mind you, but it is no secret that the Samsung-Apple relationship is deteriorating at record rates. Consider this…

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August 12, 2011

Taiwan Economic News is reporting that local Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd (TSMC), the company slated to supply Apple with the A6 processor after a shift from Samsung, has begun trials of the new chip made with the company’s “newest 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies”. However, dont expect to see the A6 in a new iteration of the iPad anytime soon, as the report suggests the processor wont be officially unveiled until Q2 of next year, at the earliest.

Included in the report:

TSMC has applied its newest 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies to produce the next-generation processor A6, which is based on the ARM architecture and will undergo TSMC’s cutting-edge silicon interposer and bump on trace (BOT) methodologies. Industry insiders said that the manufacturing will help to pump considerable momentum into TSMC’s business growth starting next year, though the company has yet to comment on the deal for the moment.

This contradicts an earlier report thru Reuters which stated that test production had already begun in July.  Both reports agreed that the final A6 processors would be complete and ready for iPad 3 in early 2012.  EETimes had reported the move back in March which was said to involve Apple’s current A5 chip but that never materialized.

An Apple switch to TSMC would obviously be a huge blow to ‘frenemy’ Samsung who currently makes the iPad CPU, DRAM and supplies Flash storage as well.

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July 14, 2011

According to Reuters, Apple and Taiwan-based manufacturer TSMC have begun a test production run of A6 processors for future Apple devices. TSMC is yet to be confirmed as the producer of Apple’s A6 chip when it ships sometime in the future, but the decision is said to be “authorized.” The only thing holding back the deal is the potential yield rate of the manufacturing.

Besides Apple already testing production of their next-generation processor, the most interesting part is that Apple will apparently move their custom chip production away from Samsung. Samsung is the company behind the manufacturing of the A5 dual-core processor that is found in the iPad 2. This A5 chip will also likely power the fifth-generation iPhone that is due in September of this year.

Apple’s A6 processor will likely debut in 2012 alongside a 3rd generation iPad. Apple’s past history has shown that the iPad is the first device to feature a new-generation of custom processors. The iPhone and iPod touch typically follow up months later with the same chip, usually custom designed for the smaller, more mobile form factor. Another possibility is that Apple will beef up the processor in the iPad, with the rumored ‘iPad HD’ in September.

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March 9, 2011

same numbers!

We’re not sure if this has already happened, but EETimes reports on the rumors that Apple has shifted its A5 production from Samsung to TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company).  Since no one has seen a real A5 processor yet, we don’t know if Apple has already switched.

Perhaps most damning, the art that Apple has put out on its A5 Chips is actually just an A4 Chip with ‘A5’ superimposed over top(!) See same part numbers around the edges above.  Does this mean that Apple has something to hide? (They always do)

The move would make logistical sense as Apple’s current (former?) partner in processor manufacturing, Samsung, is increasingly becoming a competitor in both iOS devices and in PCs.  Apple was supposed to take $7.8Billion in parts from Samsung this year.  Might be time to adjust that estimate.

With little or no fanfare, Apple and TSMC have recently entered into a foundry relationship, sources said. As reported, TSMC will make the A5 dual-core processor on a foundry basis for Apple’s iPad 2. That can be read here and here.

We reported on Apple’s move to Qualcomm (from Infineon) who use TSMC’s process for GOBI chips in October. expand full story

November 3

AAPL: 122.57

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October 23

AAPL: 119.08

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The iPhone 6s/Plus seems pretty popular already in Samsung’s home market of Korea, despite only going on sale today. All three major carriers earlier reported that they quickly sold out when the new iPhones were made available for pre-order on Monday. Now Patently Apple notes queues of hundreds of people at retail stores, with some having waited in line for 24 hours …  expand full story

October 16

AAPL: 111.04

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October 14

AAPL: 110.21

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October 7

AAPL: 110.78

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September 28

AAPL: 112.44

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According to Chipworks, there are actually two different sized A9 processors floating around in the iPhone 6s and 6s plus released last week. That’s not really a surprise because Apple likes to have redundancy, especially when one of the manufacturers is Samsung. We’d heard that both Samsung and TSMC would be producing A9 processors destined for the iPhone 6s.

However, there appears to be a difference in size of the two A9s which might play a role in how the iPhone performs…

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September 2

AAPL: 112.34

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A rough date has been set for round five of the battle over Samsung’s infringements of Apple patents in five of its products. The Recorder reports that U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh has said that the revised damages will be determined by a jury trial in March or April 2016.

In case you need a refresher, the story so far is this. In round 1, the first jury trial, Apple was awarded $1B in damages. In round 2, Judge Koh vacated $450M of that award and ordered a retrial to determine a revised sum. Round 3 was that jury trial, with Apple awarded a lower sum of $290M – making a revised total of $930M. In round 4, the US appeals court ruled that while Samsung did indeed copy iOS features, it should not have been penalised for copying the general look of the iPhone, and therefore the damages should be reduced. The new trial, to revise those damages, will be round 5.

Unless, that is, the Supreme Court intervenes …  expand full story

August 18

AAPL: 116.50

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Another day, another series of iPhone rumors. Yesterday’s roundup included the latest information about a September 18th next-generation iPhone launch date, faked benchmarks, and new system-on-a-chip schematics, and today our roundup covers a likely fake rose gold iPhone 6S image, reservations for the new phone from carriers, and Germany, and a pair of claims out of China about future iPhone models. Let’s start with the rose gold image:

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June 29


The Korea Times today reports that Apple is in negotiations with Samsung to have the company supply the flash memory for the next-gen iPhone models. Currently, the flash storage is provided by Toshiba, SK hynix and SanDisk. The report also notes that Apple is looking to increase the storage capacity of its iPhone models.

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May 26

A trio of new rumors from a handful of Asian sources have popped up over the holiday and today, each predicting a different facet of the upcoming ‘iPhone 6S‘. While these are still just very unverified whispers at the moment, odds are that at least one of these will end up coming at least partially true.

Here’s a roundup of the latest iPhone rumors, in no particular order:

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April 15

In a new report from KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, the usually accurate analyst estimates that global pre-orders for the Apple Watch will top 2.3 million units through May. A report earlier this week claimed that Apple Watch first day pre-orders were at almost 1 million units…

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In a new report by Bloomberg, Samsung apparently has created an independent group of about 200 people that work solely on screens for Apple products. Bloomberg claims this is part of a plan to “strengthen business ties” between Apple and Samsung, which obviously have had a shaky history since the lawsuits over iPhone technology.

The patent disputes between Apple and Samsung were dropped in mid 2014, which led many to speculate that relations between the two companies may improve. This report by Bloomberg suggests exactly that.

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April 2

Bloomberg reports that Samsung has signed on to provide A9 chips to Apple for the next-generation iPhone. Apple moved to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in 2013 for its processors, looking to reduce its reliance on Samsung, who is a major competitor in the smartphone space and a legal foe. With that said, it was reported last September that Samsung was still supplying 40 percent of the A8 chips found in the iPhone 6 despite Apple’s attempt to part ways.

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March 23

Apple has allegedly slashed its initial order of Apple Watches in half, cutting the number of units from around 3 million to just 1.5 million, a new report out of Taiwan claims. As has previously been the case with Apple device launches, supplies of the new wearable are expected to be constrained due to manufacturing difficulties.

The problem seems to stem from Apple’s decision to switch to a new type of display for the watch. Those new AMOLED panels are being manufactured by LG, but the company is having trouble producing enough to keep up with demand. LG was originally expected to produce 5 million panels per month.

But maybe Apple isn’t cutting its supply. Maybe something else is afoot…

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February 23

As this photo of the original Mophie Juice Pack and Tylt’s Energi for iPhone 6 shows, iPhone battery cases haven’t changed much over the years. They’ve existed for almost as long as iPhones, and remained ubiquitous due to Apple’s continued focus on thinness over longevity. That hasn’t been great for consumers: as 9to5’s Seth Weintraub put it, people are more impacted by their phones’ battery life than an extra 2mm of thinness.

It took until 2014 for Apple to offer one iPhone model — the iPhone 6 Plus — with all-day battery life, though you have to be willing to accept a much larger footprint to get that. By comparison, the smaller and reportedly more popular iPhone 6 improved only around 7% upon the iPhone 5s in run time, so the typical iPhone user isn’t seeing much of an improvement over prior models.

With a variety of alternatives at Apple’s disposal, including some major chip improvements that are just around the corner, we wanted to pose two questions to our readership. Should Apple take a break from slimming down iPhones to focus on improving battery life? Or should it instead focus its efforts on making battery cases better? Read on for our thoughts, and share yours in the comments section below…

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