After its disastrous Exynos 5 Octa, Samsung may have lost Apple’s 64-bit A7 powerhouse to TSMC

“Apple has long been expected to move its A-series chip production from Samsung to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company,” Daniel Eran Dilger writes for AppleInsider. “This wasn’t expected to happen before next year, but mounting evidence suggests TSMC may already be building the unprecedented 64-bit A7 inside the iPhone 5s.”

“Perhaps the most convincing evidence of a TSMC-built A7 is that the news of Apple’s new 64-bit chip was also apparently news to Samsung. In fact, it was largely news to everyone,” Dilger writes. “Gearing up the production of a new SoC typically takes many months of intense collaboration, so even if Apple (as the fab client) were bringing in a fully custom chip design for ‘simple’ fabrication, it would still give Samsung a very long period of awareness of Apple’s overall game plan, something Samsung clearly appeared to lack with the A7.”

Apple A7

“Instead, in the months before the A7’s release, Samsung introduced its own 28nm, 32-bit “Octa-core” Exynos 5 as its vision of the state of the art in mobile Application Processors, in conjunction with the launch of its Galaxy S4 and then again for its even more recent Galaxy Note 3 phablet and Note 10.1 tablet released just a week before Apple’s iPhone 5s event,” Dilger writes. “The Exynos 5 Octa was such an expensive failure that Samsung couldn’t handle eating its own dog food within the most competitive market of Apple’s home continent. It’s not just big and inefficient, but appears to represent a dead end direction in mobile technology. It’s also failing to deliver any appreciable difference in performance to the extent that Samsung felt comfortable swapping it out with a more pedestrian Snapdragon in order to make the Galaxy S4 price more approachable. And sales were less than impressive despite this marketing bait and switcheroo.”

Reams more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Whatever causes the slavish copier the most pain. More, please!


  1. Now this makes me VERY happy! Thanks MDN for the bright spot in my day. Nothing is as pleasing as seeing Samdung not knowing what Apple is up to. Mark this as a big cudos to Tim Cook.

    1. Scamscum getting their just due, Mikey Dell giving the money back to the shareholders, and Mafia$oft looking more lost and clueless than ever. It’s been a great week to be fan of all things Apple!

    2. And this is how it should be. Letting a major competitor know what you are up to is untenable as this is proof by the slack-jawed shocked reaction of Shamdung. Its put them a year or two behind as the gods of mobile devices intended. No info, no copy.

    3. Yes, great article full of good reporting but – without wishing to pour cold water on a great story, DED does also posit that Samsung ‘could’ still be the fabricator but that Apple has managed to impose an effective firewall between them and Samsung’s cloning division and also that Samsung could have known but saw no advantage in pre-empting Apple’s announcement…at the cost of disclosing Apple’s secrets and losing the pr battle.
      Make no mistake, I pray that TSMC really is the fabricator.

  2. “SCHADENFREUDE”. Had to go and check this one in the dictionary— it’s a German loan word meaning, ‘satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune’.

    Sure tastes good to me ! YUM !

    1. Indeed Dan! – Best article we’ve seen all year, well researched, verified, written and stated.

      This is the kind of writing, tech savvy, knowledge and understanding that the publc deserves daily as informative journalism.

      1. Probably filesize and quality issues. Have you ever noticed how craptastic some HD movies look on cable? They still haven’t solved post-production issues for film-to-tv content. People were wondering why Apple took such a long time adding 1080p to the Apple TV. I have a feeling it’s just because the transfers just weren’t up to Apple’s standards.

        I saw LOTR: Twin Towers the other night on cable TV, and it had all kinds of issues with particles, digitization artifacts. Why is it that it looks completely different in the theatre? Thor, for example, looks way way better from iTunes than it does on Netflix.

        1. because of the source. On cable they have to compress it and send it to you, satellite the same thing. Netflix highly compresses there streams to save outgoing bandwidth.
          Apple with Apple TV does compress the video but they do it from the Master Recording which is why it looks better. They also use higher H.264 settings to get very close to blue ray quality in a smaller file size.
          Here is a good article at ars technica about it.

  3. Look at all the haters doing their darn hardest to prove that the 64bit and motion processor is all marketing hype. That it doesn’t really do anything to improve the iPhone because of limited ram. It’s all hype and marketing to fool buyers!

    1. The smartphone industry doesn’t seem to think the A7 chip is innovation despite being one of the first 64-bit processors in a smartphone. I guess a larger display is more important to the smartphone industry. It’s difficult to tell what the smartphone industry considers innovation. I don’t know if it is or it isn’t but if Apple is looking at a long-term view, I’ll just have to accept the 64-bit A7 as a stepping stone to connect desktop and smartphone apps into a unified platform.

      The benefits of a 64-bit processor may not be apparent now but could be key piece to Apple’s puzzle in the near future. Once thing for sure, Wall Street is not impressed with the A7 at all because they see no immediate benefits from it like a larger display would show. When I think about it, it may be rather hard to define what Innovation is because there are subtle forms of innovation that are difficult to detect. Maybe innovation doesn’t have to be as obvious as one might expect.

    2. … “hater” to realize that 64-bit tech doesn’t mean much to a mobile phone or tablet. Heck, my desktop has it and I doubt if I call on it once a year.
      Thing is, some coders were starting to feel restricted by the limits imposed by 32-bit tech. Now they can stretch out, do more amazing things. Because they CAN. And they can, only on Apple.
      Has anyone else noted how many here have thanked Tim Cook for going above and beyond? And well? Thanks, Tim.

        1. … talking about different things, here.
          The iPhone 5S uses a 64-bit CPU for processing.
          The CAMERA of the iPhone 5S – one of the best phone-cameras out there – uses a much improved sensor, a better lens, and a few other smart tricks to take much better pictures. My $150 Pentax compact is a better camera because it has a better lens, but it can’t post-process the pictures/videos the way an iPhone can. Nor can it email the results. So … which do you prefer? Most people see the really pretty nice pictures the iPhone takes and say “good enough”. That doesn’t mean the Pentax isn’t that little bit better.
          That said, what does the much improved camera have to do with the much improved CPU?

          1. Most of that “post-processing” is taking place as the shot is recorded. The two flashes are being managed as the shot is being taken. Multiple images are being recorded and synthesized into one final product. All this is happening for the very first time in a smart phone (and not in any DSLR camera) because 64 bit computing allows it to happen quickly enough. It’s not at all about addressing greater than 4GB of memory. It’s about computing and processing speeds.

            1. I suspect you’ll be called upon to emphasise that distinction many more times before it sinks in to thickened skulls that Apple has really done something remarkable, not just something for show or as proof of concept.

              The appalling wrongheadedness of tech favouritists and apologists, at times, approaches the enormity of political diatribe artists. What a world.

  4. I love reading this stuff: “Perhaps the most convincing evidence of a TSMC-built A7 is that the news of Apple’s new 64-bit chip was also apparently news to Samsung. In fact, it was largely news to everyone,”

    Hey, did you read that properly many of you tech jouranalyst????
    “It was largely news to everyone.”

    Hey, did you read that properly many of you tech and stock analysts???
    “It was largely news to everyone.”

    Oh we know that you are probably too caught up what whatever mind body spirit sucking machinery that is eating up your existence (no doubt designed in Anustralia) to even come close to realizing how much you are being laughed at.

    There might be some of you that have a vestige of synapses still working, a heartbeat, an inner light that is still flickering enough so that you might consider ceasing to spread the FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt), speculative drivel etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum and do some actual research and real reporting.

    Oh heck, just one more kick…”it was largely news to everyone.” darn all those prerelease articles on the color and missing the real story, the new chip was largely news to everyone. You could say that Apple’s done it again, and they have but hey, it’s easy to win a battle of wits against the unarmed.

    “…largely news to everyone….” HA HA HA, it probably still is to a lot of jouranalyst and analyst… HA HA HA.

  5. Processors move away from Samsung, dell gives money back to shareholders…and monkey boy announces he will be leaving within a year…

    2013 is so an awesome year. If only Jobs could have seen this. Probably would have had a party

  6. “It turns out that while the tech media spent most of 2013 complaining that Apple “wasn’t innovating,” Apple was secretly developing its new Mac Pro supercomputer, perfecting its Authentech-based Touch ID technology that the industry has been flummoxed to copy, completing iOS 7 (while Google took a Kit Kat break with Android Key Lime Pie) and OS X Mavericks (while Microsoft fiddled as Windows 8 burned), while also bringing an entirely new 64-bit mobile architecture into production ahead of the world’s leading chip designers and foundries (which didn’t see a pressing need to move to 64-bit and lacked Apple’s experience in doing so), and, as nearly a side project, spending billions to build out a series of new iCloud data centers, and of course, Apple retail palaces like the new Stanford 2 store Cook drew attention to (below, from the inside) as well as the new Apple Campus 2 that takes the place of HP’s old Executive Briefing Center. ”


  7. Yesterday I was commenting on Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa and so many sites said that the Octa was going to take the Samsung Galaxy S5 well past the A7. That’s because most of the sites were stoked over those 8-cores Samsung could get working for them all at once. I see now that the Octa was basically a server chip that Samsung figured they could turn into a mobile chip. That’s hardly a great solution. Of course, the Octa also isn’t a 64-bit processor. I hear Samsung is going to get a 64-bit processor to go against the A7 but I guess it must be some other processor Samsung is working on.

    It’s really difficult to separate fact from fiction out there and the only thing that really matters is whether the finished product benefits from all the technology. The Exynos 5 Octa is a spec-junkie’s delight but it’s expensive and probably doesn’t belong in a smartphone. Samsung can use it because a large battery can hide behind a large display. The iPhone doesn’t have that luxury. I’m not exactly happy about what’s going on with Apple’s stock as of late but I’m still betting on Apple in the long run.

    1. Samsung will need an optimized (for multiple cores) OS to go with either the Exynos 5 Octa or a new 64 bit version of Android to go with a new 64 bit chip, plus a way to allow developers to easily convert 32 bit apps to 64 bit apps. None of that is happening any time soon. Until that happens they can stick a 64 bit chip in a phone, but it will be running 32 bit apps in a 32 bit OS.

      1. 64bit chip running 32 bit OS is a FAIL big time.. Samsung has to wait Google to release 64 bit Android.. Remember.. Nexus gets the new OS. The new LG Nexus is 32bit KitKat.. this is the OS to be given on Galaxy S5.

        If S5 is 64bit chip with 32bit OS.. Its a big headache to Samsung… and biggest headache to developers. Developers should stop developing apps on Android.

  8. The mainstream media don’t understand tech. They take their cue from the tech media. The tech media are flummoxed by Apple’s secrecy, and spin out rumours, inferences from supply-chain paper scraps, and leaks that may be fabrication or misdirection.

    This time round, this linear flow of “news” had fastened on the designs around loud colours in the UI and casings. Bolstered by an undying scepticism, analysts proved all too easily distracted from speculating usefully about new engineering.

    This appears a devilish clever red herring. Even if not intentional, it’s exposed a certain shallowness of thought, a complacency of purpose, and a stubbornness to admit, “Yes, that’s clearly important, yet we missed it.”

    1. Sadly, I think it is obvious that the tech media largely doesn’t understand tech or are too unimaginative to think beyond simple specs in terms of what a given technology can enable for the user experience

    2. There’s also been a large techie segment of the population that has been all about specs for years. And a lot of this crowd is religious about hating on Apple.

      One of the big posts on Reddit yesterday was about how people are sick of all of the hate on Apple. I think it was instigated by the terrible Microsoft ad that was later pulled. One can hope that the tide is finally changing.

      1. This x1000.

        There are a TON of ex-MSFT techie types that are being displaced by Apple on the desktop, laptop, mobile and tablet fronts and they’ll do or say anything to sling Apple’s name into the dirt.

    3. Hannah,
      The tech press routinely misses the most obvious things — like HUGE increases in chip processing speed. One would think a tech analyst worth his/her salt would appreciate huge chip speed improvements, non? They routinely totally miss it.

      1. Exactly, which is why we’re routinely disappointed in them.

        Something is wrong in the spectrum of tech reporting. It’s kind of understandable if they’re biased, or just preserving kickbacks, but very troubling if they act like fashion reporters, missing the existential point whilst focussing on trivialities.

  9. The original article is a must read. What I find amazing is how Samsung is not getting any criticism from the tech media for some massive FAILS with their recent products. Not only did they bail on their own processors, but they have managed to fragment the Galaxy S4 using 3 different GPU platforms in different markets.

    Now I know for certain that the next time I see an article quoting a developer saying that developing for Android is not any worse than for iOS, either the developer is being paid off or the reporter is

    1. Big time Agreed. Can you imagine presenting this to iHaters or Tech Journalist ( well they pretend to be journalist )? They don’t have the brain power to comprehend…all they get is “colors, ooh lets write a story on that….and fingerprint thingy, it must work like the ones 10 years ago. Apple can’t innovate…yeah lets write that.”

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