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Samsung to return to Apple's chipmaking fold in 2015, report says

TSMC may still have to compete with Samsung for processor orders from Apple, according to a report.

Samsung makes Apple's A7 processor and it's expected to make more future processors for Apple. Apple

Samsung will challenge Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, as a supplier of processors to Apple next year, a Reuters report claims.

"TSMC will be supplanted by Samsung" for the production of next-generation 14-nanometer processors for both Apple and Qualcomm, starting sometime in the second half of 2015, Reuters reports, citing comments from KGI Securities analyst Michael Liu.

The comments were made in a research note from Liu to clients after a TSMC investor conference on Wednesday.

CNET reported in March that the Apple-Samsung chip partnership is still strong despite Apple's deal with TSMC. In that deal, TSMC is manufacturing, for the first time, processors for Apple that are expected to be used in next-generation iPhones debuting later this year.

Until the TSMC deal, Samsung had been the exclusive supplier of processors to Apple.

During a Q&A session at the TSMC conference, analysts tried to probe TSMC's relationship with Apple, without mentioning Apple by name. One analyst, for example, referred to "one important customer."

That line of questioning prompted TSMC Chairman Morris Chang to say, "We are not going to comment on specific customers."

One of the comments during the conference call that concerned analysts was Chang talking about the 16-nanometer generation of chips.

"In 16-nanometer, TSMC will have a smaller market share than a major competitor in 2015. But we'll regain leading share in 2016, 2017 and onwards," Chang said.

In the most recent quarter, TSMC reported its biggest profit since the last quarter of 2006.