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Apple’s long divorce from Samsung near final

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The strained relationship between Apple and Samsung has moved a step closer to fracturing completely, with a report in the Chinese-language Commercial Times refreshing rumours that TSMC will become Cupertino’s new best friend.

According to the report, summarized in Digitimes, a Taipei-based Merryl Lynch analyst Dan Heyler believes foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has “a good chance of winning orders for Apple’s A6 processors”.

By the alchemy of Chinese whispers, this “good chance” has metamorphosed into certainty.

However, it’s quite likely that Apple and Samsung will go their separate ways sometime in 2012. The two are involved in claim and counter-claim over whether Samsung has copied the look and feel of iOS for its line of Galaxy tablets.

While Apple pours billions into Samsung’s business, it still represents only a few percent of the South Korean giant’s annual revenue.

TSMC is already Apple’s alternate source for A5 processors, and Apple has also reportedly fielded pitches from Intel for its chip fab.

A move would also give Apple the brief advantage of a fab with smaller geometries. Its work with TSMC is based on 28nm processes, a significant advance on the 45nm process used by Samsung for the A5 processors.

Digitimes says the Commercial Daily story rules out any shift in 2011. Even if Apple jumped in 2012, its business would only represent about 2 percent of TSMC’s business – however, the cachet of being Apple’s fab would carry considerable weight with other tablet makers. ®

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