Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Apple Hardware

Apple Hopes To Drop Samsung As Chip Supplier 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-do-mommy-and-daddy-fight dept.
danomac writes "Apple is testing out new chip suppliers, trying to find a supplier other than Samsung. Apple is currently suing Android phone manufacturers, and Samsung is included in the lawsuit. 'Apple faces several hurdles should it want to make a switch to TSMC, including patents and chip design issues as well as a push by Samsung to retain the business. ... Analysts and other sources had previously said TSMC, the world's largest contract chip maker, was set to become a supplier of a next-generation processor chip to Apple, likely starting next year. However the chip may not be called the A6, as some reports have indicated, the sources said. TSMC is an obvious candidate to win processor business from Apple as it has budgeted $7.8 billion this year to update technology and add capacity. It also has experience with the architecture of British chip designer ARM Holdings Plc, widely used by Apple to make power-efficient mobile chips."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Hopes To Drop Samsung As Chip Supplier

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The next iPad will be powered by an Arduino!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and have a 64kb ram from mouser, a Nintendo DS "replacement" touchscreen from dealextreme and an old Nokia screen from ebay.

      • by narcc (412956)

        Yes, and have a 64kb ram from mouser, a Nintendo DS "replacement" touchscreen from dealextreme and an old Nokia screen from ebay.

        And still sell millions 'cause Steve says that specs don't matter.

  • Correction (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chris Down (2350174) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:40PM (#36780484)

    "Consumers hope to drop Apple as computer supplier"

    • Doesn't look that way to me. Quite the opposite, in fact.

      I guess we'll see on Tuesday which of us is correct, but I'm liking my position on this...

      Simon

      • by fj3k (993224)
        Of my friends with iPhones, aprox. half have said they would not buy an iPhone again.
        That said, of those who said they wouldn't buy one again and have bought a new phone, less than half bought a different phone. But that's not a representative set, they are the people who buy new stuff when new stuff comes out.
        As an aside, of my friends with Android phones, none have said they would change. But the android phone owners are in the minority.
        As presented, these facts don't make any sense to me.
        • by mgblst (80109)

          A smarter man would not have posted such useless dribble. But hey, it takes all sorts.

          Apple is growing, the iPhone is growing, Android is growing faster.

          Anyway, you may have missed the point where we were talking about computers in the parent comment.

    • by tyrione (134248)
      You have such a singular wit.
  • They are either punishing Samsung (the common dramatic spin I see put on the story) or maybe they are expecting to need A LOT of A6 chips. Maybe the rumors of putting them in Macs are true?
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:50PM (#36780570)

      Or maybe they see the value in having a supplier that doesn't represent a conflict of interest.

      • by tftp (111690)

        Or maybe they see the value in having a supplier that doesn't represent a conflict of interest.

        They need to look for an established, large manufacturer who can quickly produce millions of reliable components for Apple. On the other hand, the same manufacturer must not have any business with any of Apple's competitors - who are in the majority and are busily flooding the planet with hordes of Androids.

        In other words, they want a manufacturer with a death wish. The only way a chip maker can agree to thos

        • On the other hand, the same manufacturer must not have any business with any of Apple's competitors...

          Not quite. It's not about having any business at all with any of Apple's competitors, it's about Samsung themselves being a direct competitor.

      • The problem with letting morals interfere with business decisions is knowing where to stop. Now that they've made it plain how little tolerance they have for independent thinking suppliers, the rest are going to be a bit skittish, either in their dealings with Apple, or in their own R&D. Either way, Apple is sending the message that it doesn't want first tier brilliant thinkers, only second tier yes-men.

        I have a friend who lets his religious fundamentalism go crazy. I sent some Thomas the Tank Engine

        • by rolfwind (528248)

          How your post got modded up is beyond me. I think your religious fundamentalist friend has a tighter grasp on reality than you do.

          • So explain, then, exactly how you know where to draw the line.

            Suppose you consider Disney to be evil for having health benefits for domestic partners, and you refuse to do business with them. Suppose you own a company which makes piping.

            Do you refuse to sell piping to Disney?

            Do you refuse to sell piping to a local hardware store which sells to Disney?

            Now being the owner, it's entirely up to you to make these decisions. But what if you work for this piping company?

            Suppose you are a salesman, and Disney cal

            • I think you're missing his point. He was not arguing in favor of your friend's position, but was attempting to humorously point out that your position is at odds with reality. Samsung is not "independently thinking." It's doing the opposite - mimicking Apple's products. that's where Apple's objections lay.
              • by X.25 (255792)

                Samsung is not "independently thinking." It's doing the opposite - mimicking Apple's products.

                Which products is Samsung "mimicking", exactly?

                Please, just don't tell me that tablet/icon look is Apple's "invention". I've had enough laughs today.

                • by jonbryce (703250)

                  When I take my Samsung Galaxy S out of my pocket, a lot of people seem to think it is an iPhone.

                • Which products is Samsung "mimicking", exactly?

                  I'm not sure why you put scare quotes around the word mimicking. It's an apt description. And why do you transform that into the borderline straw man of invention? All products have a trade dress. Samsung's Galaxy S shamelessly mimics the iPhone's trade dress right down to the packaging. Here's a pretty good example [copyrightc...ulture.com].

                  • I like how one of the comments accuses the author of copying him. And then the author waves his hands implying that because lots of people are writing about the same thing it's almost inevitable that similar stories will arise.

                    Two-faced asshat.

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          I always thought of myself as a fundamentalist but apparently not. I have to admit to watching Thomas the Train with my grandson.

        • If it were me, I'd turn down the "Christmas Stocking Stuffers" on several grounds, before "gay" would be included.

          1) My kids wouldn't know what or who Thomas the Train was. They don't get to watch TV. They play with toys and read books instead. If they do watch TV, it is Discovery or some other program that is at least educational without dumbing down.

          2) Christmas is a made up holiday, and commercialized at that. "Jesus" wasn't born on Dec 25, nor anywhere close to that date. However pagan gods were, which

    • Even if the lawsuits didn't exists, I would have foreseen Apple doing this sooner or later. First of all, having only one supplier for a critical component is risky. Second, Samsung is producing Apple chips on their 45nm line whereas the rumor is that TSMC will fab Apple's chips on their 28nm line which in itself is a huge improvement for Apple in terms of cost.
      • First of all, having only one supplier for a critical component is risky...

        That risk is offset by tying up that supplier so they're the only one that can use them.

    • by imgod2u (812837)

      I doubt there's anything so sinister. One thing to note is that TSMC's 28nm process is ready now; chips will start mass production at the end of the year on it.

      I don't think Samsung has their 32nm HKMG ready for the type of volume that Apple would need for A6. The A5 is already huge and would likely not fit in a phone. Apple's only chance of getting some more horsepower inside future iPhones without having to use the A4 again is to switch to a smaller process.

  • Unless they can get Globalfoundries off the ground at 28nm or better, they won't be able to produce enough product to make any sales, with Nvidia and Apple hogging all the fabs' attention. Enjoy your $800 entry level GPUs and your $1000 midrange CPUs.
    • That might be true if the profit margins nVidia & Apple got went to the fab plants. They are all probably paying about the same.

      Apple is probably the only one with some sort of advantage, the whole "we'll help u build it, but it only produces our chips"

    • by cyfer2000 (548592)

      Doesn't Samsung and TSMC share the same process? So it is easier to transfer from Samsung to TSMC than to Global Foundries? Correct me if I am making a mistake here.

      I guess Apple may be secretly working with Intel too.

      • by makomk (752139)

        IIRC, TSMC don't actually share the same process with anyone these days, and even if they did it doesn't exactly work like that...

    • by tyrione (134248)

      Do yourself a favor and visit GlobalFoundries latest news information. They are soon to be exploding and already have customers spoken for all but the new plant in New York that will be targeting the 22nm and below needs at 300mm wafer size.

      http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/news/2011/07/12/globalfoundries-begins-installing.html

      More News Here: http://www.globalfoundries.com/newsroom/ [globalfoundries.com]

      Tri-Gate competitor well under way. http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2011/07/12/global-foundries-tri-gate-competitor/1 [bit-tech.net]

      • AMD did a lot with finfets, so I wouldn't expect the transistor structure to be a problem ... but they're completely fucked with patterning until EUV hits. Intel has chromeless pixelized masks pretty much on lock down patent wise and it's a huge advantage.

        • by tyrione (134248)

          AMD did a lot with finfets, so I wouldn't expect the transistor structure to be a problem ... but they're completely fucked with patterning until EUV hits. Intel has chromeless pixelized masks pretty much on lock down patent wise and it's a huge advantage.

          You do realize that it's not just AMD but IBM that co-developed much with AMD, right? If you think Intel has it all locked down you better spend a few hundred hours reading up on IBM patents.

          • Intel was able to use pixelated photomasks for functional CPUs in 2006 . No one else has even published papers on attempts with test circuits ... IBM has been fucking around with pixelated source masks, but mostly because that's less patent encumbered AFAICS.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      > $1000 midrange CPUs.

      They still make the Pentium Extreme Edition?!

  • by hahn (101816) on Friday July 15, 2011 @05:55PM (#36780616) Homepage
    Is this really so surprising? Apple creates end products to sell to consumers and buys parts from Samsung. Samsung creates chips (as well as other parts) to sell to companies but also sells competing end products to consumers. TSMC only creates and sells chips to companies, but nothing to end consumers. And now that TSMC's foundries have been updated, it's kind of a no-brainer isn't it?
    • Re:Surprising? (Score:5, Informative)

      by stevew (4845) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:15PM (#36780792) Journal

      You have to understand that TSMC has a different business model than Samsung. TSMC is the largest Chip Fab in the world - bar none. It is ONLY a chip fab. The article is actually in error when it implies that the relationship between ARM and TSMC is a big deal. The relationship between Samsung and ARM is likely exactly the same! They BOTH have a license to ARMs IP. The BIG difference between the two is that TSMC doesn't have System Architecture experience. They take designs from others - and create masks, then fab them for you. Most of the "fabless" semiconductor companies in the world use either TSMC or UMC (the number 2 player..)

      Samsung is different in that they do both Architecture/Implementation of the design along with fabrication. TSMC doesn't really have that ability.

      What Apple would have to do is take on the Architecture/Implementation roll by themselves and send the design to TSMC for fabrication. That would put Apple more in the "fabless" semiconductor business. What they do now is they buy most of the design from Samsung, i.e. they use Samsung's IP on their chip, then Samsung implements the device, and fabs it. They ship the completed device to Apple.

      Hope this straightens out some of the differences between the two approaches.

      • Re:Surprising? (Score:4, Informative)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday July 15, 2011 @06:28PM (#36780910)

        What Apple would have to do is take on the Architecture/Implementation roll by themselves and send the design to TSMC for fabrication. That would put Apple more in the "fabless" semiconductor business. What they do now is they buy most of the design from Samsung, i.e. they use Samsung's IP on their chip, then Samsung implements the device, and fabs it. They ship the completed device to Apple.

        Except that Apple has been designing their own chips since the A4 and Samsung manufactures it. I'm sure that Samsung has assisted Apple like they would any other customer but considering that Apple bought PA Semi and Intrinsity (two chip design companies) for their personnel and expertise, I would say their A4 and A5 designs are not bought from Samsung.

      • by tfranzese (869766)
        Just to add to the sibling here, Apple is no stranger to chip design. Back when they were dealing with the PowerPC (and probably before then too) they were very much into motherboard/chipset design within their VLSI research group. I wouldn't sell them short.
      • by hahn (101816)

        You have to understand that TSMC has a different business model than Samsung. TSMC is the largest Chip Fab in the world - bar none. It is ONLY a chip fab. The article is actually in error when it implies that the relationship between ARM and TSMC is a big deal. The relationship between Samsung and ARM is likely exactly the same! They BOTH have a license to ARMs IP. The BIG difference between the two is that TSMC doesn't have System Architecture experience. They take designs from others - and create masks, then fab them for you. Most of the "fabless" semiconductor companies in the world use either TSMC or UMC (the number 2 player..)

        Samsung is different in that they do both Architecture/Implementation of the design along with fabrication. TSMC doesn't really have that ability.

        What Apple would have to do is take on the Architecture/Implementation roll by themselves and send the design to TSMC for fabrication. That would put Apple more in the "fabless" semiconductor business. What they do now is they buy most of the design from Samsung, i.e. they use Samsung's IP on their chip, then Samsung implements the device, and fabs it. They ship the completed device to Apple.

        Hope this straightens out some of the differences between the two approaches.

        My understanding is this: both the Apple A4 and A5 are SoC's (System on a Chip) with ARM cores (A4 - single, A5 - dual) but are designed by Apple. Samsung only provided manufacturing capability. Design of the end product (iPhone and iPad) was done by Apple. Integration of the chip into the finished product and mass manufacturing (iPhone 4, iPad 1 and 2) was done by Foxconn and Pegatron (iPhone 4 CDMA only). I don't recall ever reading that Samsung was involved in any part of the iPhone 4 or iPads beyon

      • What Apple would have to do is take on the Architecture/Implementation roll by themselves

        Samsung had no role in the design.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Yep! And it goes beyond that. Apple now designs its own custom chip, and so has effectively become a fabless semiconductor company. Why would Apple want to share its proprietary designs with a *competing* company already involved (as either the thief or victim) in several industrial espionage incidents when it can just use a "neutral" (not to mention the largest) contract fab like TSMC?

      • by tftp (111690)

        Why would Apple want to share its proprietary designs with a *competing* company already involved (as either the thief or victim) in several industrial espionage incidents when it can just use a "neutral" (not to mention the largest) contract fab like TSMC?

        This naively assumes that nobody at the "largest" contract fab is willing to sell a couple of designs to whoever is interested in them. But they are ready to spend millions on chasing that dream.

        Apple should understand that once they release somethin

        • by gatodecat (822540)

          Why would Apple want to share its proprietary designs with a *competing* company already involved (as either the thief or victim) in several industrial espionage incidents when it can just use a "neutral" (not to mention the largest) contract fab like TSMC?

          This naively assumes that nobody at the "largest" contract fab is willing to sell a couple of designs to whoever is interested in them. But they are ready to spend millions on chasing that dream.

          Apple should understand that once they release something to another company that "something" is instantly copied and sold to the highest bidder. Their only hope would be to keep the high level design in Cupertino and send only the lowest level stuff to be manufactured. But if they want to take this road they can do it already - and as some people commented earlier, they do just that.

          As it seems, though, Apple developed a case of corporate paranoia. There were signs of this disease before, but now Apple openly proclaims that "everyone is stealing from us" and such things. They need a head doctor.

          Don't forget.
          What the eye doesn't see. The heart doesn't grieve about.
          To Apple, Samsung is clearly infringing on their IP. A change is in order.

      • Considering the rules set out by Sarbox, I would actually trust Samsung a hell of a lot more than I would TSMC not to sell or reuse those designs for another product. Because they're in direct competition, Samsung could find themselves delisted from the stock exchanges, which would hurt their business a hell of a lot more than any profit they could garner from it, meaning that Samsung is likely to be significantly more open about how they're treating Apple's proprietary designs.

        My guess is it has more to do

        • Yes TSMC could sell designs from one of their clients to another of their clients. But here's the problem: If anyone ever found out, TSMC would most likely lose all their clients as no one would ever work with them again lest they have the same thing happen to them. With Samsung if all their external customers stop using them, they still have internal customers.
          • by Dahamma (304068)

            Yep - it's 100% of TSMC's business but just a few percent of Samsung's (at most)...

        • by jonbryce (703250)

          Samsung are a Korean company with a secondary listing on the Pink Sheet Market, so I don't really think they are affected by Sarbanes Oxley.

          • If they're listed at all on an American market, they are affected by it. I work for a Canadian company that has a secondary listing on NYSE, primary listing on TSX, and we still have to comply with Sarbox.

            • by jonbryce (703250)

              You don't have to comply with any regulations to list on the Pink Sheet market. Even SCO Group is able to list on there. If you are listed on NYSE or Nasdaq then of course it is a completely different matter.

  • Where else are you going to purchase radiation hardened chips?
  • I still don't see why adding a new chip supplier has to mean dropping the old one.

    Maybe Apple just want's to make sure it can still build new devices even if one supplier has problems.
    Maybe they need additional suppliers to meet the increasing demand (yes, there is increasing demand for iOS devices).
    Maybe they hope to gain something by having competing suppliers. Lower prices and/or better products. Faster, more efficient chips etc.

    After all, Apple is a company and is doing business to make money; not to wi

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

Working...