File this one under funny things journalists are paid to say. Last week the Korea Times reported that Apple had “designated” Samsung as the primary supplier of the next Apple SoC. In response, the Chinese Commercial Times reported that TSMC is to supply the Apple A9 chip despite competition from Samsung. Since SemiWiki readers already know the score on this let me just highlight the funny parts:
“Samsung Electronics agreed with Apple to produce application processors (APs) from next year for iPhones and iPads, sources said Monday. The agreement means Samsung will become a primary supplier of APs to Apple, pushing its chief Taiwanese rival TSMC back to second place. From 2016, the company will supply 80 percent of APs used in Apple devices, and TSMC the remainder.”
The Samsung and TSMC FinFET processes are not compatible so I do not see Apple or anybody else for that matter splitting a bleeding edge mobile chip amongst foundries. It will take a serious amount of experienced design effort and with the current time-to-market SoC pressures those resources are not treated lightly.
Also Read: Who is REALLY Using TSMC 16FF+?
“TSMC replaced Samsung in 2013, becoming the main manufacturer of Apple’s A8 processor, used in the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Samsung only produced 30% of A8 processors, a market insider said.”
Again, Apple did not split the manufacturing of these chips. According to tear downs the Apple A8 (iPhone) and the A8x (iPad) are both TSMC 20nm. According to Samsung they do not offer a 20nm foundry process nor have I seen a Samsung 20nm SoC. In fact, I was told a while back that Samsung would skip the 20nm planar node to accelerate their 14nm development (which is 20nm FinFET).
“A US investment banker confirmed on Nov. 19 that TSMC is to manufacture a large portion of the A9 processors in 2015, although whether the process technology will be 20-nanometer or 16-nanometer is still unclear. Samsung will supply a smaller proportion of the processors, the paper reported.”
I wonder what investments this US banker has?
“The yield rate of TSMC’s 20-nanometer process technology has reached 80%, and its 16-nanometer FinFET process technology 90%. The two processes are expected to account for 1% of revenue in the first quarter of 2015 and 10% in the fourth quarter of 2015, said market analyst Randy Abrams from Credit Suisse Taiwan.”
I know Randy, I’m pretty sure this is a misquote. I will let you know after my next Taiwan trip. Unfortunately it has been cut and pasted around the internet already by those who need to believe it is true.
And finally, according to Barron’s:
Investors who have been put off by delays in production ramps for Intel’s latest chips should focus on the broader picture. Intel has a 3½-year lead over rivals like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, IBM, and Samsung Electronics in cutting-edge chip-making techniques, says Pitzer…
If you must give them a click: