Engineer hired by Korean company revealed FinFET fabrication process
A senior engineer at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) who left the company after nearly 20 years, has been found guilty of illegally passing on the firm's trade secrets, specifically the FinFET fabrication process, to Samsung -- which then copied the process in order to win a majority of the orders of Apple's A-series processor manufacturing, a Taiwanese court has found.
Snapdragon 820 chip could be produced by Samsung
Qualcomm is looking to switch producer of its Snapdragon mobile processors, a report claims. The Snapdragon 820, a 64-bit chip expected to be provided in samples to manufacturers before the end of the year for use in devices in early 2016, will allegedly be made by Samsung's processor production lines instead of its long-term partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).
Rival beats TSMC to 14-nanometer process, said to win contract
Numerous reports appear to confirm that Samsung will return to a larger role in helping Apple manufacture its next-generation A9 chip, which will be used in future iOS devices. Apple primarily uses Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for its A8 chips seen in the iPhone 6 and current iPad lines, but still used Samsung for manufacturing the chips to some extent due to demand. Sources say Samsung has beaten TSMC to a 14-nanometer process, giving it the edge.
TSMC will presumably fill in remaining 25 percent
Samsung will indeed be the chief supplier of processors for Apple's next iPhone(s), according to South Korea's Maeil Business Newspaper. The company is expected to take about 75 percent of CPU orders. The paper doesn't mention how much the deal is worth, or who else will be producing chips, but Samsung's manufacturing will reportedly take place at its plant in Austin, Texas, the original home of Apple's A-series processors.
Current production thought to be handled mostly by TSMC
Samsung has signed a deal to become the "primary supplier" of Apple's A-series processors starting in 2015, claims the Korea Times. Last year, TSMC is believed to have taken over the majority of production, possibly around 60 percent. Under the new scheme, Samsung is expected to churn out chips at its Austin, Texas plant -- the original home of the A series -- and at another facility in New York. Samsung's share of the work is forecast to grow to 80 percent by 2016.
Said to be heavily involved in chips for iPhone 6
Taiwanese supplier TSMC has secured orders to produce a processor for an "upcoming next-generation iPad expected to be released in early 2015," according to Digitimes sources. The chip is said to be "tentatively" codenamed the A8X, and be based on the same 20nm manufacturing process as the A8. TSMC is said to be producing A8 chips for the iPhone 6, and even a variety of related chips, including Dialog power management ICs, Qualcomm baseband chips, Synaptics LCD driver ICs, InvenSense gyroscropes, and Apple's own fingerprint sensors.
TSMC's role unknown
Samsung should start producing 14nm chips for Apple, Qualcomm, and AMD by the end of 2014, a report says. Apple's inclusion is particularly significant, as it implies that the company will be starting on production of a next-generation A-series processor, presumably the A9. The A8 only began appearing in Apple devices last month, with the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
Firm already tied to A8 production
Even though the A8-based iPhone 6 has yet to ship, TSMC is already preparing to ramp up production on its 16nm lines to meet demand for the A9 processor, according to Chinese-language publication the Economic Daily News. The company is said to have been targeting 16nm volume production for the second quarter of 2015, but moved its schedule up to the first. Although A9 chips probably won't roll off assembly lines until later next year, TSMC will allegedly be ready to churn out 50,000 16nm wafers a month starting in Q1.
Reasons for possible reversal unclear
TSMC will probably lose chip production orders from Apple and Qualcomm to Samsung in the second half of 2015, says KGI Securities analyst Michael Liu, quoted by Reuters. Liu made the comments in a memo issued after a TSMC investor conference. The Commercial Times and the Economic Daily News both suggest that Qualcomm has in fact already started working with Samsung, a claim which has hurt TSMC shares in trading.
Samsung, TSMC splitting orders
TSMC has begun shipping Apple A-series processors out for assembly, according to the Wall Street Journal. Production is said to have begun on 20nm fabrication lines in the first quarter, but shipments have only started happening more recently. Despite TSMC's involvement, the firm is expected to split orders with Samsung, which has traditionally produced every A-series chip.
TSMC bulking up production
TSMC will start shipping a new generation of Touch ID sensors for Apple products in July, claims the China Times. Production is expected to jump a colossal 233 percent to 120 million units, presumably because the sensors will also be used in iPads for the first time. On top of this, though, the parts have allegedly been designed for better durability, and will be built at an expanded 8-inch fabrication facility.
Pegatron rumored to have 15 percent of iPhone 6 orders
Taiwanese supplier TSMC has delivered the first batch of Touch ID fingerprint sensors for several Apple products, including the iPhone 6, second-generation iPad Air, and third-generation iPad mini, supply chain sources claim. The sensors are reportedly being assembled by TSMC subsidiaries Xintec and Suzhou Crystal Semiconductor. While the rumor is hard to verify, Apple is likely receiving parts in preparation for mass production, since its flagship products -- iPhones and iPads -- are due to refresh in the fall. Reports have also indicated that Apple intends to expand use of Touch ID beyond the iPhone.
Apple allegedly aiming at 65 million iWatches by end of year
The Apple iWatch will ship in the third quarter of the year and be manufactured by Quanta Computer, claims Taiwan's Economic Daily News, as quoted by Digitimes. Two other companies, Richtek and TPK, will reportedly be supplying chips and sapphire touch panels. The watch's processor is expected to be developed by Apple, but manufactured by Samsung, which currently handles all iOS processor production. Apple is said to be aiming at having 65 million iWatches assembled by the end of 2014.
Samsung, TSMC may be splitting production duties
Samsung will still be involved in production of Apple's A8 processor, an anonymous Samsung official tells ZDNet Korea. The company has allegedly signed a contract to produce the A8 at its plant in Austin, Texas -- where all other A-series chips have been made -- and is in the final testing stages before mass production. Rumors that Samsung has been having yield problems are "exaggerated claims," the official says, and so the A8 should start rolling off Samsung lines sometime next quarter.
Manufacturer allegedly has 'most' orders for logic/power chips
Taiwanese supplier TSMC has already begun manufacturing chips for the next iPhone, claims supply chain sources for a local publication, the Commercial Times. The company is said to have won "most" of the orders for logic and power management chips in the new device. The exact nature of the chips is left vague by the Times, but a Taiwanese website, TechNews, is claiming that TSMC will become the exclusive manufacturer of Apple's upcoming A8 processor.
Company said to be suffering from low production yields
(Updated with LTE chipset claims) Apple has dropped Samsung as a manufacturer of the A8 processor in 2014, a TechNews Taiwan report claims. Samsung is said to be having trouble manufacturing the chip using its 20nm process. TSMC, though, is allegedly capable of meeting Apple demands, and is predicted to take on all A8 production this year.
Rumors hint at no A8 devices until second half of 2014
Two suppliers -- Amkor Technology and STATS ChipPAC -- have each secured 40 percent of the packaging orders made by Apple for its A8 processor, sources tell Digitimes. The remaining 20 percent are said to be going to Advanced Semiconductor Engineering. TSMC, which is said to have foundry orders for the A8, has also allegedly obtained wafer bumping orders. It's expected to start ramping up production for the A8 in the second quarter of the year using a 20nm process.
Switching away from subcontracting could improve production quality
TSMC will start producing fingerprint sensors for the next-generation iPhone in the second quarter, industry sources claim. The supplier will reportedly use a 65nm process at its 12-inch fab, and also bring backend wafer-level chip scale packaging in-house, instead of subcontracting it. In-house packaging is expected to improve production yields; trouble with manufacturing fingerprint sensors is often believed to be the reason the iPhone 5s shipped in such low numbers last September.
May iPhone launch would break with previous timetables
Apple is working on a "larger size" iPhone for May 2014, and a 12.9-inch iPad for October, supply chain sources tell DigiTimes. The new iPhone will allegedly be manufactured by TSMC, using a 20nm process. The iPad is reportedly being built by Quanta Computer; the sources suggest that while Apple has been deciding between 12.9- or 13.3-inch displays, 12.9 has a better chance of being selected.
Rumor points to TSMC and Samsung
Apple has reportedly chosen Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to handle most of the A-series chip manufacturing for its 2014 iPhone lineup, transitioning away from its current reliance on Samsung, unnamed sources have told DigiTimes. The supply-chain sources further claim that Apple is moving toward 14nm and 16nm manufacturing processes for the A-series chips that will be utilized for iPhones in 2015.
Samsung will allegedly help start production
GlobalFoundries is preparing to manufacture Apple A-series processors at its "Fab 8" plant in Malta, New York, a source tells local publication the Times Union. At present, every A-series chip is produced by Samsung at a factory in Austin, Texas. The source indicates that Samsung will help GlobalFoundries get started with the new project, but it's unknown if GlobalFoundries is being contracted by Samsung or directly by Apple.
Apple to rely more on TSMC for next iPhone chip
Apple's ongoing split with Samsung appears to be continuing slowly, as a new report has the Cupertino, Calif.-based phone maker lessening its dependence on its South Korean supplier/rival for the chip that will power its next flagship smartphone. Korean news daily Hankyung claims that most of Apple's A8 processor units will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). Samsung would still manufacture some A8 units, but its share of the load would reportedly be around half that of TSMC.
Initial run may be limited to 3-4 million units
Initial production of the iPhone 5S may reach only 3 to 4 million units in the current quarter, compared an earlier plan for 10 million, industry sources claim. The issue is said to be the phone's fingerprint sensor; while it was reportedly going to start production at TSMC in May, and then head to packaging at Xintec, Apple has allegedly need further work on integrating the part with iOS 7. Xintec, meanwhile, is said to be returning low yields.
Would conflict with reports pointing to 5S going into production
Apple may be delaying the launch of the iPhone 5S until the end of the year, owing to a late decision to switch to a 4.3-inch display, Taiwan's Commercial Times claims. The paper's sources in the semiconductor industry say the phone was previously scheduled to ship in September or October. The paper adds that TSMC may only deliver chips for the 5S in August, but that another device -- the low-cost iPhone -- is still on track to ship towards the end of the September quarter, its own chips having arrived in June.
Mass production of two parts may only start at end of July
Manufacturing problems are affecting the amount of iPhones Apple will have in time for September's iPhone 5S launch, sources tell DigiTimes. Suppliers are reportedly getting poor yields of fingerprint recognition chips and integrated circuits for LCD drivers. Mass production of both parts was supposed to have started at the end of June or in early July, but is now believed to have been pushed to the end of July, mirroring claims by Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek. If accurate, the sources' claims could be the first confirmation that the 5S uses fingerprint recognition.
Apple, Samsung sign new chip deal for Apple A9-series chips
Apple’s on-again-off-again relationship with Samsung continues with a Korea Economic Daily news report that it has signed with its consumer electronics archenemy for a new chip fabrication deal for 2015. The news follows a recent report that Apple had also signed with TMSC on a three-year chip fabrication deal beginning in 2014, which led many to believe that Apple had dropped Samsung as a chip supplier permanently. The deal is said to have been struck as Samsung is transitioning to the more sophisticated 14nm fabrication process faster than TSMC, better aligning with Apple’s plans for its future A9 chip designs.
Early prototype could already be using TSMC-built chip
Apple's next-generation flagship iPhone -- commonly identified as the iPhone 5S -- does appear to use an A7 processor, new photos suggest. The chip has an APL0698 model number, rather than the APL0598 for the A6, or the APL5598 for the A6X. Also of note is a "K1A0062" identifier, which may back reports that Apple has dropped Samsung as a chipmaker in favor of TSMC. Earlier A-series chips have "N" identifiers that refer to Samsung part numbers.
Apple switching from Samsung fabrication to TSMC for A-series designs
A new report out of the Taiwanese supply chain says that Apple has finally signed a deal with TSMC to fabricate the Cupertino-based company’s custom A-series chip designs. According to Digitimes, Apple has entered into a three-year deal with TSMC that will result in the Taiwan-based fabricator producing Apple chips from the A8 onwards. This suggests that Apple’s long break up with Samsung for chip production will continue throughout 2013 and into 2014 with the South Korean company fabricating Apple’s next-generation A7 and A7X designs expected in Apple's widely-rumored iPhone 5S, and Apple's fifth-gen iPad.
TSMC, Largan, Foxconn, Texas Instruments among mentioned suppliers
Apple suppliers are now engaged in "intensive delivery" of a "large number" of parts for a low-cost iPhone, says the Commercial Times. TSMC is reportedly delivering 28nm processors, while Largan Precision is supplying an 8-megapixel camera. Foxconn is providing a battery module and most of the inner frame, while Taiflex Scientific is handling a flexible circuit. Other suppliers are said to include Chipbond, Kinsus, SPIL, Texas Instruments, and Renesas Electronics.
Executive's claims back recent rumors
Apple is giving A7 chip production over to TSMC, instead of long-time A-series chip manufacturer Samsung, an executive with one of Samsung's Korean partners has indicated to The Korea Times. "Apple is sharing confidential data for its next A7 system-on-chip (SoC) with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)," the person is quoted as saying. "TSMC has begun ordering its contractors to supply equipment to produce Apple’s next processors using a finer 20-nanometer level processing technology."
Rumor has A7 chip only arriving in 2014
TSMC will start building A7 chips for the iPhone 6 in 2014, once an Apple contract with Samsung expires in June, claims Taiwanese publication the Economic Daily News. Samsung has so far been responsible for producing all of Apple's A-series processors, at a facility in Austin, Texas. The two companies have become increasingly hostile towards each other however, and several reports have indicated that TSMC will eventually take over some or all A-series work.
ARM, TSMC collaborate on first fabrication of Cortex-A57 chip
ARM and TSMC have jointly announced that they have collaborated on the first tape out of ARM’s Cortex-A57 CPU based on its next-generation 64-bit ARMv8 mobile architecture. The new chip design will be ARM’s highest performing chip to date and is targeted for use in tablets, high-end computers and servers. The Cortex-A57 was fabricated on TSMC’s FinFET 16nm process, which gets its name from the tiny fish fin shape of its transistors.
Claim would put first TSMC A7s in 2014
TSMC is expected to "tape out" an Apple A7 processor with a 20nm process this month, then move into risk production in May or June, claim industry sources for DigiTimes. The sources say that TSMC is expanding its production capacity at Tainan Science Park in Taiwan with a total investment of $16.87 billion, and plans to use some of the extra capacity to build A7s. The people add, however, that the company would only start shipping A7s commercially in the first quarter of 2014.
Hon Hai, TSMC each adding 5,000 new jobs
Apple suppliers performed poorly during February, says Topeka Capital analyst Brian White. The claim is based on an "Apple Monitor," a collection of suppliers the analyst tracks as a way of gauging Apple's performance. Collectively the companies were down 31 percent in February, versus a normal 8 percent drop for the month. The results are bad even when considering the effect of the Chinese New Year, White says -- "the worst February we have on record."
New A5 processor on 28nm process suggests transition from Samsung
Apple’s recent update of the Apple TV has revealed a second die-shrink for its A5 processor, reports Macrumors. A new version of the Apple TV (A1469) was acknowledged by Apple, which said the new model continues with the same functionality as the previous edition, but that it does include an unspecified component change. Now revealed, the new component also shows that Apple has switched to 28nm process for the chip, suggesting that it may have started its transition from Samsung for its chip fabrication.
Would mark unusual course reversal for Apple
Apple is planning to use a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor in the low-cost iPhone, and manufacture it using TSMC's 28nm production lines, claims an industry watcher quoted by the China Times. The move would be unusual, since Apple currently relies on its own A-series processors for iOS devices, which are produced at a Samsung facility in Texas. The Times' report does say, though, that Apple will continue to use A-series chips in other devices.
TSMC deal allegedly moving from possibility to fact
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has won a contract to start manufacturing A6X processors for Apple in the near future, says Taiwanese publication the Commercial Times. The A6X is used in the fourth-generation iPad, and to date has been manufactured by Samsung. A TSMC version of the processor is expected to reach trial production sometime in the first quarter of 2013.
Sites in Texas, California also allegedly under consideration
The states of Oregon and New York may be competing for a chip factory under consideration by an Apple supplier, says The Oregonian. Oregon's economic development agency, Business Oregon, says it is trying to recruit a company operating under the codename "Azalea." A non-disclosure agreement is preventing any more details from emerging, though a similar project --tagged with a "Project Azalea" codename -- is being pursued in New York state.
Cuomo mentions Apple has interested party
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has hinted that Apple may be connected to a plan for a chip factory in the state measuring some 3.2 million square feet, the Times Union reports. The factory was recently proposed to economic development officials in the state, but the company or companies behind the deal have been kept quiet. Apple's name has been speculated, but when approached, the Empire State Development Corporation refused to comment to the Union.
Apple accelerating split from Samsung?
Apple may be moving to TSMC for processor production "earlier than expected," according to analysts with Credit Suisse. Quoting checks with equipment suppliers and other firms in Japan, China, and Taiwan, the analysts suggest that Apple could make the jump to a 28nm TSMC process as soon as the second quarter of 2013. Credit Suisse says that until now, it had only expected Apple to start placing orders with TSMC in late 2013 or early 2014.
Quad-core, 20nm chips made by TSMC coming to Apple products in 2014?
Apple is, once again, said to be courting Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC to supply its future chips. The products in question are 20nm, quad-core chips that are expected to power Apple products in 2014, including a future version of the iPad.
Bids cracked $1 billion mark, report says
Apple and Qualcomm each recently made investment bids in excess of $1 billion trying to get exclusive access to chip supplies from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, according to Bloomberg. The bids were reportedly shot down because TSMC wanted to maintain flexibility in production. Qualcomm is thought to have been interested because chip shortages are limiting its earnings; Apple may have wanted a deal to reduce its dependence on Samsung.
A number of chip makers have already started stocking parts intended to be used in production of Apple's next-generation iPhone, according to industry sources for DigiTimes. Qualcomm and Broadcom are said to be producing 4G and Wi-Fi chips using a 28nm process at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. OmniVision is also said to be hunting for production at TSMC's 12-inch fab, contributing to limited production capacity. OmniVision specializes in camera components, and has supplied cameras for Apple handhelds in the past.
TSMC to fire up 20nm chip line by year's end
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), which supplies many large electronics makers with computer chips and components, has reported that its first quarter net profit fell by 7.7 percent compared to last year. The revenue for the quarter was slightly higher than expected, however. It has also said it expects to see profits grow later on in the year thanks to an improved economy and chip orders that are greater than expectations.
ARM Cortex-A15 hard macro blends speed, effciency
ARM on Tuesday rolled out a unique variant on the Cortex-A15 designed to bring the next-generation chip to shelves faster and with less power use. A new hard macro variant that has fixed specifications, including quad cores clocked at 2GHz based on a 28 nanometer TSMC-made (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) design, instead of the "soft core" that lets firms heavily customize an ARM design to their own ends. In return, however, it's both faster to implement and uses the same power as the earlier Cortex-A9.
TSMC may have low 28nm supply for CPUs, GPUs
A new and potentially far-reaching rumor has had TSMC's 28-nanometer manufacturing capacity significantly hampered for about half of the year. Supply was said by Digitimes, which has a mixed track record, to be tight enough that it wouldn't clear up until the end of the summer. The shortage was enough that it was purportedly forcing AMD, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm to all limit their releases or find alternative suppliers.
TSMC gets indirect connection to Apple
TSMC may have at least some involvement in Apple's device supply chain based on claims by Taiwan's Economic Daily News. The business newspaper asserted that the contract manufacturer had landed deals for power management parts designed by Dialog Semiconductor for future Apple hardware. TSMC had supposedly already involved itself with iPads and iPhones by manufacturing Broadcom, CSR, Cirrus Logic, and Qualcomm.
GlobalFoundries now truly independent
GlobalFoundries picked Monday to say it had bought out AMD's remaining stake in its manufacturing. The mutually agreed deal now puts the chip production firm entirely in the control of Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), the company that had originally orchestrated the split. GlobalFoundries could now act independently and wouldn't be bound to making AMD processor, although there were no immediate intentions to stop.
iPad 3 externals assembled in hint of future
Various part leaks for the next iPad came full circle on Sunday after a project successfully melded several parts together. MIC Gadget was able to get the front, back, and glass of the future Apple tablet assembled to prove that they were part of a cohesive design. As already suspected, the new iPad's case was just slightly thicker than its predecessor, although a more gradually tapered back could make it feel thinner in the hand.
TSMC hints at big mobile, PC resurgence
TSMC in trimming back its expectations for 2012 also gave a possible clue as to a big mobile push early in the year. Company CFO Lora Ho anticipated a double-digit climb in demand for processors both in home electronics and PCs, implying some level of mobile technology. CEO Morris Chang added that the US would do relatively well in 2012, and that most of the poor performance would come from Europe and Japan.