Apple's future processors said to be made by Samsung, TSMC

Apple will divvy up chipmaking between Samsung and TSMC, according to an Asia-based report.

Apple A7 processor: Future iPhones will use chips -- such as the rumored A8 and A9 -- from both Samsung and TSMC reportedly.
Apple A7 processor: Future iPhones will use chips -- such as the rumored A8 and A9 -- from both Samsung and TSMC reportedly.

Both Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will make future Apple processors, according to a report from Taipei-based Digitimes.

Samsung, which has manufactured Apple A series processors to date -- including the newest 64-bit A7 -- will continue to make Apple chips through at least 2015, according to the report in Wednesday's Digitimes.

Meanwhile, TSMC is slated to participate in production of Apple's 2014 iPhone products and/or could take more future production, according to the report.

Separately, a source familiar with TSMC's operations told CNET that TSMC is already making Apple A series processors -- though it's not clear if that's at commercial volumes or smaller pilot production volumes.

TSMC's future 16-nanometer process will use so-called FinFET, aka vertical transistors, roughly analogous to Intel's 3D transistor tech.

That FinFET manufacturing tech would get Apple's A series processors that much closer to processors from Intel, which is currently the world leader. Apple's new A7 chip already boasts 64-bit processing -- another metric where Apple is closing the gap with Intel.

Samsung is also expected to use a FinFET process for 14-nanometer production (PDF).

It should be noted that nailing down definitive information about which chipmaker is going to make which chip for which customer is always difficult as chip production details are fiercely guarded by both the manufacturer and the customer.

And chipmakers invariably run into production problems. For example, TSMC had been rumored to make Apple chips in the past but struggled with production problems. There were also rumors of disagreements with Apple.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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