Digitimes: TSMC confirmed as Apple’s new processor fab

The rumors have been going on for months, but Digitimes is today saying Apple’s new processor foundry is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). The move by Apple is believed to be precipitated by Apple’s ongoing legal battles with Samsung, who has provided Apple with processors since the original iPhone was released in 2007 through Apple’s release of “its own” A4 processor and A5 iPad processor earlier this year.

Apple has recently signed a foundry partnership agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), industry sources have claimed. Under the terms of the agreement, TSMC will apply its 28nm and 20nm process technologies to produce Apple’s next-generation CPUs, according to the sources.

The contract appears to be long and lucrative for TSMC..

TSMC is believed to have quietly secured Apple’s contract, and even succeeded in extending the deal to cover the manufacture for the A6′s successor, the sources said.

In addition, the agreed contract quotes are favorable to bring little impact on TSMC’s profitability, the sources revealed. TSMC managed to negotiate a good price, allowing gross margins yielded by Apple’s orders to be similar to its overall gross margin performance at present, the sources indicated. TSMC’s gross margin for the second quarter of 2011 arrived at 46%.

The details weren’t released publicly and as can be expected, neither company is commenting on the move.

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Apple drops refurbished iPads to $299

From 9to5toys.com:

The Apple Store dropped its price on the factory-refurbished, 1st-generation Apple iPad 16GB Wi-Fi (pictured), model no. MB292LL/A, to $299 with free shipping. That’s $30 under our June mention and is $184 under the lowest total price we could find for a new one. (It’s also the lowest we’ve ever seen for any iPad.) This 0.5″-thick tablet weighs 1.5 lbs. and features an Apple A4 1GHz processor, 9.7″ 1024×768 LCD touchscreen display, 802.11a/n wireless, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, accelerometer, compass, up to 10 hours of battery life, and more.

Also available is the factory-refurbished, 1st-generation Apple iPad 32GB Wi-Fi, model no. MB293LL/A, for $399. That’s another price-low, this time by $121. Both units carry a 1-year Apple warranty, the same as new units.

We also briefly saw a 32GB iPad for $299 at Cowboom this morning. Does all of this have anything to do with the TouchPad $99 nuttieness from the weekend? Unlikely.

Update: 16GB just went out of stock. Cowboom has 32GB for $299 on and off.
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The A5 chip almost twice the size of A4, fabbed on Samsung's 45nm process


Floorplan comparison: Apple’s A4 chip (left) and the latest A5 processor (right)

Reverse engineering wizards over at Chipworks put the A5 chip under a microscope. Yes, it’s a Samsung - confirming our hunch. The experts came to this conclusion by putting the chip under a microscope and examining dielectric layers and the shape of the transistor gates. The teardown analysis also revealed a die almost twice the size of the A4 chip from the previous-generation iPad and iPhone 4, the 45-nanometer manufacturing process and other interesting tidbits.

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Apple moving to TSMC for A5 production?


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. Read more