RUMOR: Apple inks deal with TSMC foundry for A5 processor; possible setback for Samsung

“Rumors are running rampant that Apple Inc. and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC) are expanding their foundry ties-a possible blow for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd,” Mark LaPedus reports for EE Times.

“With little or no fanfare, Apple and TSMC have recently entered into a foundry relationship, sources said,” LaPedus reports. “As reported, TSMC will make the A5 dual-core processor on a foundry basis for Apple’s iPad 2. Apple will use TSMC’s 40-nm process for the A5, according to a source. ‘Apple will also work with TSMC on 28-nm’ processes, according to a source.”

“This could be seen as a setback for Samsung. Samsung is making the A4 processor on a foundry basis for Apple’s original iPad. Samsung is also making the processor for the iPhone,” LaPedus reports. “It’s unclear if Samsung will make the A5 for Apple. Apple itself designed the [A4 and A5 processors] for the iPhone. The processors are based on ARM’s technology.”

LaPedus reports, “Apple, according to the source, will use TSMC for three reasons: 1. Samsung competes with the iPhone and iPad; 2. TSMC has the highest yielding 40-nm process in the foundry world; and 3. TSMC has the most 40-nm capacity.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: What we wrote on December 29, 2010:

What’s amazing is that Apple pumps billions into Samsung and then Samsung turns around and makes knockoffs of Apple products. How much longer is Steve Jobs going to help bankroll ripoffs of Apple products based on a ripoff OS over which his company is suing several others?

Something doesn’t compute. It’d be as if the U.S. Army were buying their guns and ammo from Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan today.

Apple’s sitting on $51+ billion in cash. They ought to build their own foundries and display production lines or at least find somebody with a conscience to work with who isn’t stabbing them in the back daily. In fact, they should’ve done it already.


  1. This is how apple has blindsided samsung and WS with this release of the ipad 2. The mole at google must have been confident that with the likes of samsung, they will be able to keep the spin of having a compatible/comparable device. Now the shysters have no visibility at all to apple’s plans.

    1. The only problem that I see here is with RAM. Samsung is one of the world’s largest producers of the stuff, and Apple buys up the bulk of the supply.

      Sure, this gives Samsung money, but it also hamstrings all the other manufacturers (Samsung included) because Apple’s massive purchases create global supply shortages.

      So maybe Apple will switch processor foundries, but I don’t see how it can switch RAM suppliers, at least right now. And even if there is someone else that can make all that RAM, that just opens up Samsung’s RAM production to competitors.

      1. RAM is a commodity, designing dual-core custom ARM cpus is not a commodity.
        Buying RAM from Samsung doesn’t compromise any Apple technology, secrets or plans. Building Apple’s cpu’s does.

  2. This makes perfect sense.

    After getting fsked by Motorola, then Google, and now Samsung something had to give.

    Remember, keep your friends close, and your friendemies further.

  3. Lol, no wonder that Samsung executive seemed in the dark about the iPad 2.

    Based on deliberations between Apple and Samsung, they assumed that there wouldn’t be a dual core processor upgrade contrary to speculation. Apple pulled the wool over their eyes.

    1. as someone else mentioned, samsung executive was in the dark. Could only mean that samsung has been left out. I am beginning to think that samsung nor lg got orders for the panels. I hope apple sourced everything from Taiwan. The flash and memory the Koreans can have since it provides little insight into the whole product. But, even with flash and dram, I hope they source it elsewhere.

  4. Who cares if Samsung is competing with Apple. Apple is so huge, everyone competes with Apple. Samsung is making three things for Apple, the A4, the display, and NAND flash. Two of those things are commodities that anyone can buy, so it doesn’t matter where Apple gets it. The A4 is Apple’s design based upon ARM’s core. Samsung is not going to copy it. What’s custom is specific to Apple’s device needs. Unless Samsung is going to copy exactly what the iPad or iPhone does, it’s not going to copy the A4 or A5.

    Going with TSM is good for diversifying supply. I bet they use TSM for iPad A5 chips, while they maintain Samsung for the iPhone A5 chips, and play off each foundry in order to get the best price. Exclusive is good for secrecy, but competition is good for pricing. I don’t think now that the A5 chip is out there, they need secrecy as much as they need mfring capacity and pricing. Expect Samsung to retain the iPhone A5 mfring.

  5. There’s not much risk for Apple in letting multiple corporations see the design of the A5 because they are hard at work on the A6.

    If there are indeed any advances in the way the A5 is designed, by the time Samsung or any other company can copy it for their own purposes it has already become aged tech.

    This is how Apple has become the giant. They build tomorrow’s technologies today while everyone else waits to see what they do and then copies furiously.

    1. Logic says that the A6 will be based on the ARM’s Cortex-A15 reference, which can go up to quad-core and 2.5GHz.

      However, the likelihood is that the iPhone will go to the dual-core A15 (allegedly some five times more powerful than the Cortex-A8 platform that underlies Apple’s A4 processor, even before Apple’s chip pixies do their added-value stuff to the design), whilst one imagines that its conceivable a future iPad and TV will use all four cores when required dependent on power availability and the number of apps running.

  6. A writer for Globes (an Israeli business journal) wondered who would be supplying the NAND flash memory for the iPad 2. Would it be SanDisk, who supplied it for the original iPad? Would it be Samsung, selling the same product but paying royalties to SanDisk? Or would it be someone else?

    Obviously, if Apple wants to reduce reliance on a competitor it shouldn’t be Samsung. But issues of price, quality and ability to deliver always come into play.

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