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So long, Samsung! TSMC is fabbing Apple's A8 chip, insiders claim

Cupertino's hated rival booted from future iPhone supply chain, paper reports

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The next generation of Apple's custom system on a chip (SoC) for mobile devices will be manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) rather than Samsung, and so will several other chips to be used in the forthcoming iPhone 6, a report has claimed.

According to Taiwanese financial newspaper Commercial Times, TSMC has already begun production of the new chip, which will be known as the A8 and is likely destined to power Apple's next smartphone.

Based on the El Reg foreign desk's loose translation of the original Chinese-language report, the successor to the ARM-compatible A7 will include a quad-core 64-bit processor and a quad-core GPU.

The report didn't specify clock speeds, but the extra CPU cores should give the A8 a multiprocessing boost over Cupertino's previous, dual-core chip. As for the GPU, we suspect it would be more accurate to describe it as a four-cluster configuration, like the PowerVR G6430 GPU that's believed to be in the A7.

TSMC will bake the chips at its Fab14 plant in Tainen, southern Taiwan, using its latest 20nm process, the report claims.

If true, it will be the first time Apple has turned to TSMC to fab its silicon. All previous Cupertinian processor chips have been produced by Samsung, going back to the original A4 in 2010.

But rumors that Apple would part ways with Samsung for its future chips have been swirling for ages, fueled by the growing acrimony between the two companies resulting from their multiple, seemingly never-ending lawsuits over smartphone patents.

The Commercial Times report would seem to confirm earlier reports by DigiTimes and the Wall Street Journal, both of which also said the A8 would be fabbed using TSMC's 20nm process. (Still other sources claimed Apple would stick with Samsung.)

This latest report, however, says TSMC has also picked up the contracts to manufacture several other components for Apple's next phone, including the mobile baseband chip, the LCD driver IC, and even Cupertino's vaunted AuthenTec fingerprint scanner.

Mind you, most of this is still pure speculation. Apple has yet to announce any plans for an iPhone 6, let alone a shipping date. But that hasn't stopped some fanbois from lining up to buy the phantom device, so who are we to rain on their parade? ®

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