Chips Stories March 17

Samsung has warned today that there is a “serious imbalance” in semiconductors globally and a chip shortage could delay the launch of its Note flagship. Analysts also point out that this shortage is affecting almost everyone except Apple.

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Chips Stories April 21, 2016

iPhone-6-board-teardown

Bloomberg reports that Qualcomm shares have dropped after the company’s CEO hinted that its biggest customer could switch to a rival supplier for future orders. Reading between the lines, the speculation is that its biggest customer is Apple (Samsung is the only other company close to holding that title) and that a switch to Qualcomm’s rival means Apple’s is considering Intel for LTE modem chips in the iPhone 7:

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Chips Stories February 18, 2016

johny-srouji-2000x1200

Bloomberg profile of Apple’s ‘chief chipmaker’ – SVP of hardware technologies Johny Srouji – talks about how the iPad Pro was launched behind schedule, and almost ended up being less powerful than the iPhone 6s.

The original plan was to introduce the iPad Pro with Apple’s tablet chip, the A8X, the same processor that powered the iPad Air 2, introduced in 2014. But delaying until fall meant that the Pro would make its debut alongside the iPhone 6s, which was going to use a newer, faster phone chip called the A9 […]

The iPad Pro would look feeble next to the iPhone 6s. So Srouji put his engineers on a crash program to move up the rollout of a new tablet processor, the A9X, by half a year.

While the piece predictably doesn’t reveal much we didn’t already know, it does contain one surprising fun fact about the original iPhone …

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Chips Stories December 10, 2015

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It’s not too surprising that Apple’s new iPhone 6s Smart Case isn’t made to be easily opened for repairs. To get inside for its usual teardown routine, iFixit had to peel off the soft lining of the case by heating up the adhesive. It then had to remove three proprietary Apple screws to remove a metal reinforcement plate and get at the battery itself. So while you likely won’t be able to repair your new Smart Case without destroying it, we do get a look inside of the new product thanks to iFixit’s willingness to do so… expand full story

Chips Stories October 14, 2015

Two key Apple suppliers fighting for control of Taiwanese chip company – billions at stake, say analysts

The WSJ reports that Foxconn and the world’s largest chip assembler, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE), are fighting for control of the number three company in the chip assembly business, SPIL. ASE assembles chips used in the Apple Watch, while SPIL last year started supplying chips for iPhones.

ASE had planned to take a controlling interest in SPIL in order to protect its market-leading position and remain one jump ahead of competitors. Key iPhone assembly company Foxconn, however, persuaded the company that it would do better by collaborating with the Chinese firm in order to win more of Apple’s business.

SPIL shareholders will vote on the proposed deal with Foxconn tomorrow. Although ASE had already bought some shares in the company, it did so too late to qualify for vote, so has instead sent a letter to other SPIL shareholders urging them to vote against the motion.

All three companies are competing for system-in-package (SiP) orders from Apple, which analysts say will be worth billions of dollars.

There is huge competition for Apple’s business among chip manufacturers and assemblers, with Apple reportedly playing off Samsung and TSMC against each other in order to squeeze out last-minute price cuts for the A9 chip. Samsung’s recent return to profit was attributed to the chips it supplies to Apple.

Chips Stories August 14, 2015

A9

Less than a month from now, Apple is expected to officially unveil its new A9 chip. This will be the ninth A-Series processor including the original A4, which powered the first iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and second-generation Apple TV. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the A-series chips to Apple’s devices, as they’ve helped the company to achieve everything from major processing leaps to impressive power efficiency and — often taken for granted — guaranteed UI smoothness for every year’s newly-launched devices.

With the iPhone 6S just around the corner, we’ve started to receive tips purporting to reveal how much better the A9 will perform than the A8 processors found in the latest iPhones, iPad Air 2, and iPod touch. While we wouldn’t characterize the numbers we’ve seen as reliable, they led us to look back at the history of A-series chips, and consider what can reasonably be expected from the A9. Read on for our thoughts…

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Chips Stories February 23, 2015

A8

While Apple has notably been engaged in a back-and-forth poaching war with electric vehicle maker Tesla in recent months, a new report from The Korea Times claims that Apple has also been targeting “experts in next-generation technology” from Samsung Electronics. Citing an anonymous official from Samsung, the report highlights that the iPhone maker has a history of picking off chip experts from the Korean company using competitive compensation and “greater independence” as engineers. expand full story

Chips Stories February 4, 2015

Apple again said to be going back to Samsung for A9 chip in future iOS devices

After moving to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce chips for its latest mobile devices and reduce reliance on competitor Samsung, Recode reports that Apple is tapping Samsung for its next-gen A9 chips.

While Apple had hoped to rely more heavily on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to fabricate the Ax family of processors used in its iOS devices, the company has turned to Samsung for its next-generation A9 chip, according to people with knowledge of the situation…. Though Samsung refuses to identify chip customers, sources say the company is working to ensure an adequate supply of application processors for the next-generation iPhone.

The report mirrors much of what we’ve already heard in recent reports from others adding that “Samsung holds a technological edge over TSMC when it comes to the latest manufacturing process.”

More specifically, Recode cites the fact that “Samsung has managed to shrink the size of the transistors on its chips to 14 nanometers — effectively packing more processing power into a smaller space and consuming less power. TSMC is still at 20 nanometers.” The upper hand with Samsung’s tech was also noted as a reason behind Apple’s decision in earlier reports.

Samsung was said to be handling around 30% of Apple’s latest A8 chips in current gen iOS devices with TSMC producing the majority. Prior to the current-gen A8 chip, Samsung was previously producing the majority of Apple’s mobile chips alongside many other components for Apple products.

Chips Stories August 2, 2013

Executives

Apple executive Bob Mansfield’s unexplained departure from Apple’s leadership team is due to the long-time engineer’s desire to focus on chipset design plus future products and less on executive duties, according to sources with knowledge of the change.

As part of Mansfield’s leave from the executive team and role change to “special projects” under Apple CEO Tim Cook, Mansfield’s former duties as Senior Vice President of Technologies have been split between two Senior VPs: Hardware chief Dan Riccio and Operations head Jeff Williams, according to these sources.

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Chips Stories April 16, 2013

Several job postings looking for both hardware and software engineers reveal that Apple is looking to begin its own chip development in Orlando, Florida.

Last week we learned that Apple is hiring software engineers to work on fingerprint technology at Authentec in Melbourne, Florida, which is about one hour south of the future site of the company’s development labs.

The job posting are interesting as Samsung, which works with Apple to develop the custom chips used in iPhones and iPads, continues to compete with Apple in the smartphone and tablet space.

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