Thursday, November 14, 2013

Who Will Fabricate Apple Microprocessors

DigiTimes reports a rumor that Samsung and Globalfoundries will work together on Apple A9 microprocessor fabrication. Apple have a choice of  only very few fabs that have the  leading edge technology and the manufacturing capacity. Apple would like to have a second source for its chip manufacturing, maybe it is forcing Samsung to work with Globalfoundries. It is not likely that Samsung would only provide its patent protection.

Some process technology would be shared also. Could be that Samsung 3D NAND technology is a key ingredient of such a deal (see TSMC and GlobalFoundries 3-D Transistors (FinFETs) ).

The cost of leading edge process technology ties Apple hands and is the reason that Apple cannot Kick Its Samsung Habit

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Josephine Lien, Taipei; Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES [Wednesday 13 November 2013]
Rumors have been circulated in the IC industry claiming that Globalfoundries and Samsung Electronics will team up to vie for A9-series chip orders from Apple. Under the reported tie-up, Samsung will provide related patents and Globalfoundries will handle wafer production.
TSMC is believed to have secured contract manufacturing orders for Apple's 20nm A8 processor chip slated for 2014, and stands a good chance of also securing orders for the A9 series that will be built using a 3D transistor (FinFET) design. Nonetheless, rumors have it that Samsung plans to assist Globalfoundries in producing chips for Apple. Samsung will grant related patents for the manufacture of the A-series processors to the US foundry, which has a commitment to bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.
Globalfoundries will have its Fab 8 complex in Malta manufacture the reported A9 processor chips for Apple, while Samsung will collect royalties for licensing its patents, according to the rumors.
Samsung has long been the sole supplier of Apple's A-series chips, but gradually lost orders for some components such as memory chips due to its competition with the customer in the mobile space.

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