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More signs that Apple A8 chip production is approaching

Apple may be gearing up for A8 processor production if its relationship with TSMC pans out.

Indications are that the follow-on to the current 64-bit A7 processor is being manufactured by TSMC.
Indications are that the follow-on to the current 64-bit A7 processor is being manufactured by TSMC. Apple

Apple may be getting closer to production of its A8 processor as news from Asia points to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) as the main supplier.

Taiwan-based TechNews (via MacRumors) reported that TSMC has already started production of Apple's next-generation A8 processor.

That report jibes with a source who CNET spoke to December. That person, who is familiar with TSMC's plans, said that Taiwanese contract chip manufacturer had already begun making Apple's A series processors. To date, Samsung has been the sole manufacturer of Apple's processors.

But TechNews takes this a step further, claiming that TSMC is the sole manufacturer of the A8 because of the success it is having with the latest 20-nanometer manufacturing process.

On Sunday, Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities cast doubt on Apple's ability -- or willingness -- to refresh the iPad Mini Retina in a big way in 2014. He also claimed that the rumored "iPad Pro" may be pushed into 2015.

If true, the A8 could appear in an updated iPad Air and an expected iPhone refresh.

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.

Update: Samsung will likely remain a supplier of processors to Apple, so the claim that TSMC will be the sole provider of processors may later prove to be inaccurate.