Feeds

TSMC begins making Apple A6 iDevice chips

Samples for now - volume output to follow?

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Nice computers don’t need to go to the toilet, says Barclays
Bad computers might ask if you are Sarah Connor
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users
Sinofsky's hybrid strategy looks dafter than ever
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Microsoft stands on shore as tablet-laden boat sails away
Brit buyers still not falling for Windows' charms
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?