Feeds

TSMC begins making Apple A6 iDevice chips

Samples for now - volume output to follow?

Application security programs and practises

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. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Microsoft confirms secret Surface will never see the light of day
Microsoft's form 8-K records decision 'not to ship a new form factor'
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.