Feeds

TSMC begins making Apple A6 iDevice chips

Samples for now - volume output to follow?

High performance access to file storage

Taiwanese chip foundry TSMC has started punching out Apple's ARM-based A6 processor.

The manufacturer, which specialises in producing silicon on behalf of so-called 'fabless' chip makers - such as Apple and Nvidia - and is the world's biggest such foundry, is initially producing test chips to verify the Apple's designs and its production line fit together smoothly.

The move, reported by newsagency Reuters, will be seen as an attempt by Apple to further the growing distance between itself and its current chip supplier, Samsung. Apple and Samsung are suing each other for alleged intellectual property infringement.

In fact, Apple's shift to TSMC may be purely pragmatic. Samsung produced Apple's A4 and A5 chips, the latter used in the iPad 2 and expected to be used in the upcoming iPhone 5 aka iPhone 4S. It's not clear how much of the A5 design is Apple and how much was dependent on Samsung expertise.

Apple's need for greater numbers of processors, coupled with its growing in-house chip design expertise, may have steered it from a chip supplier like Samsung to a company like TSMC which simply churns out the chips Apple is now designing itself.

It's a riskier option - Apple has to take greater responsibility for testing its designs and overseeing the production process, rather than simply buy and rebrand an existing, tested design - but potentially much cheaper.

It also allows Apple to bring in other chip factories, such as Taiwan's UMC, the world's second biggets foundry, to ensure it's not limited to a single supplier of such a crucial component.

To be sure of the deal, TSMC now has to show that it can deliver a decent yield of CPUs. Produced in batches on large, circular wafers, not all chips on a given wafer will be any good. Getting the ration of duff parts to working ones - the yield - right is a crucial stage of chipmaking. Chip makers continue to attempt to improve the yield throughout the lifetime of a product.

For that reason, Apple may not yet abandon Samsung. It still needs A5 chips, and will likely do so even once TSMC begins punching out A6s in volume. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.