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…
Samsung supplies Apple with memory chips for gadgets. More importantly, Samsung also makes A4/A5 processors for iPhones, iPads and iPods, building them according to Apple’s in-house designs. With Japan becoming the latest legal battleground between Apple and Samsung and reports of order stoppage that could remove five billion dollars a year from Samsung’s bottom line, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Apple is slowly backing away from Samsung. In that regard, TSMC appears to be the most likely replacement in the silicon department.