Apple May Free Itself From Samsung By June
Apple may be using TSMC for its upcoming A7 chip for the iPhone 6.
The Economic Daily News (EDN), which is based out of Taiwan, reports that Apple may finally be separating itself from Samsung as early as June. "High-ranking" officials from Samsung told the paper that it has yet to receive orders from the fruity iPad maker for an A7 chip that will be used in the iPhone 6 slated for a 2014 launch.
The lack of a contract has now led to speculation that Apple may be pulling away from Samsung, and will rely on Taiwan Semiconductor Company (TSMC) to produce future chips instead. Apple currently has a contract with Samsung that sees the latter company exclusively producing A-Series chips, but that contract expires in June.
EDN also reports that TSMC will begin installing production equipment at its 20-nm-capable facilities by April 20, two months ahead of schedule. Once the equipment is installed, the company will begin taping out SoC solutions at 20-nm by the end of the second quarter. The initial capacity for 20-nm products will be around 5,000 12-inch wafer starts per month, sources said, and reaching a capacity of 30,000 to 40,000 wafer starts monthly by the end of 1Q14.
Last month unnamed industry sources said that TSMC would complete the tape-out of Apple's A7 processor using 20-nm processing in March, and then move into risk production sometime between May and June. This will reportedly pave the way for commercial shipments in 1Q14. TSMC is expanding production facilities at its Fab 14 unit located in Taiwan's Tainan Science Park to manufacture Apple's A7 chip.
Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly going into iPhone 5S production this quarter. The phone is slated to arrive this summer, followed by a less expensive model using a different casing possibly in the second half of 2013. Powering these devices could be an early 28-nm version of the A7 chip in the iPhone 5S, and a die shrink of the current A6 chip in the iPhone "Lite" model.