Samsung and TSMC to Share Production of Apple's 14-nm A9 Chips in 2015

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Apr 12, 2001
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Samsung has signed a contract to produce 30% to 40% of Apple's 14-nm A9 chip family in 2015, with the remainder of the production load being handled by other Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), reports Digitimes.

The news comes after a report back in July stating that Apple had signed a deal with Samsung to cooperate in producing A9 processors based on a 14-nanometer process node, though it was not known then whether Samsung would be the sole supplier of the chips. The claim also came weeks after TSMC confirmed a deal with Apple to begin producing A-series chips in 2014, but was also followed up by a report in September stating that Samsung would also be helping out with A8 chip orders as well.

Apple has apparently been seeking to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a component supplier as the two companies have become fierce rivals in both the mobile marketplace and in the courtroom. The two companies have, however, continued working together in several areas, particularly where Samsung's competitors in the component market are unable to match its technology, production capacity, or pricing.

Furthermore, a look into the A7 processor in September revealed that Samsung was indeed the manufacturer for the chip, with the chip produced at a smaller 28-nm node compared to the 32-nm A6. Currently, the A7 chip is used in the iPhone 5s, the iPad mini with Retina Display, and the iPad Air. Teardowns of all three devices revealed that the iPad Air includes a slightly faster variant of the A7 chip clocked at 1.4 GHz compared to the iPhone 5s and Retina iPad Mini which both include an A7 chip clocked at 1.3 GHz.

Article Link: Samsung and TSMC to Share Production of Apple's 14-nm A9 Chips in 2015
 

foobarbaz

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2007
524
482
woah, 14nm

So we probably get 22nm next year and yet another shrink the year after. That's rapid. Expect significant gains both times.
 

vmachiel

macrumors 68000
Feb 15, 2011
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14 nm in 2015. Wow, that is quick. Intel is struggling with 14 nm right now, and they usually lead in die size. They won't launch broadwell until late 2014, which would mean the gap between intel and others in shrinking fast!
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
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Sourcing from 2 different fabs with 2 different process technologies will be more design work, but I guess Apple thinks it's worth it from a reliability and volume perspective. If they have gone with IBM or GlobalFoundries there would have been less work since they are part of the Common Platform initiative and share process technology with Samsung.

woah, 14nm

So we probably get 22nm next year and yet another shrink the year after. That's rapid. Expect significant gains both times.
14nm (TSMC calls it 16nm but they are similar targets) is a half node of 20nm. The big thing is introduction of FinFET 3D transistors at 16/14nm over 20nm. There will be some performance gain and power efficiencies, but not much die area improvement. The next major node is 10 nm. It'll only be a year between 20nm and 16/14nm but I believe we'll be stuck there for 2 years before 10 nm so things average out to Moore's Law over the longer term.
 

reallynotnick

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2005
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14nm (TSMC calls it 16nm but they are similar targets) is a half node of 20nm. The big thing is introduction of FinFET 3D transistors at 16/14nm over 20nm. There will be some performance gain and power efficiencies, but not much die area improvement. The next major node is 10 nm. It'll only be a year between 20nm and 16/14nm but I believe we'll be stuck there for 2 years before 10 nm so things average out to Moore's Law over the longer term.
So do you think Apple is going to be sticking to half nodes? Like will the A8 be 20nm (instead of 22nm)?
 

osofast240sx

macrumors 68030
Mar 25, 2011
2,521
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You know Samsung is a huge company. Just because Apple has legal issues with the smartphone department does not mean that they have issues with samsung overall.
Yep it's been reported that Apple has always had a great relationship with the manufacturing side if Samsung.
 

commander.data

macrumors 65816
Nov 10, 2006
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So do you think Apple is going to be sticking to half nodes? Like will the A8 be 20nm (instead of 22nm)?
I think Apple will just use what's available. I don't believe either Samsung or TSMC have a 22 nm process. They are going 28 nm to 20 nm, then 16/14nm. TSMC has announced 10nm as their next step. I don't believe Samsuing has announced what there's is for application processors, but they are doing flash memory at 10 nm.
 

Xenomorph

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Aug 6, 2008
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St. Louis
Apple has claimed the A7 is now a Desktop-class 64-bit processor (and benchmarks show that it does perform as well as a 2010-era Desktop CPU) - this poses some interesting things for upcoming chips.
Just picture the type of advanced by the time the A9 shows up. The performance and lower power requirements. It would probably be a better performer than what most people have in their computer.

Having two separate companies (TMSC and Samsung) both doing "part" of the work for iOS devices may not be the end-goal. What if the A9 out-performs Intel equivalents, and Apple decides they want them in their Laptop and Desktop systems?

Apple could request TMSC and Samsung both ramp up to 100% each to greatly increase the amount of chips manufactured, just to be able to get them in all iOS and OS X devices.
 

MisakixMikasa

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Aug 21, 2013
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Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Apple has claimed the A7 is now a Desktop-class 64-bit processor (and benchmarks show that it does perform as well as a 2010-era Desktop CPU) - this poses some interesting things for upcoming chips.
Just picture the type of advanced by the time the A9 shows up. The performance and lower power requirements. It would probably be a better performer than what most people have in their computer.
You fail to realized that A7's benchmark is close to 2010 Mac Mini. Mac mini never used desktop grade CPU, all the Intel Mac Mini used mobile Intel CPU.

No way, why? The A7 chip is just merely equivalently to my 2005 AMD Athlon X2 with 1GB of RAM running light weighted xUbuntu. I have done the benchmark before. A7 does not even outperform my old Intel Pentium Dual Core. Most people in this days have at least some short of Dual core desktop processor inside their computer. A7 is far away from Intel Core i3.

A9 maybe close to intel processor from three or five years ago, but by them, Intel processor will be even more powerful than current generation.

The performance gap between ARM and x86 is huge. A7 might able to do one heavy application at time with no problem, but it will struggle when multitasking between multiple application running at same time. I could run games, AutoCAD, Photoshop at same time on my desktop setup, but no way with iPad.
 
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samcraig

macrumors P6
Jun 22, 2009
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apple is in denial... can't live without and can't live with...
How is Apple in denial. They never said they were going to remove any reliance on Samsung. They never said they were cutting all ties. They never said they would never use Samsung parts.

What are they denying?
 

BeyondtheTech

macrumors 68020
Jun 20, 2007
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I'm just wondering if Samsung has been peeking under the hood on Apple's chip designs over the past few years. It's like KFC asking Popeye's to mass produce their chicken buckets and handing them over the secret spices and herbs recipe.
 

samcraig

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Jun 22, 2009
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I'm just wondering if Samsung has been peeking under the hood on Apple's chip designs over the past few years. It's like KFC asking Popeye's to mass produce their chicken buckets and handing them over the secret spices and herbs recipe.
No it's not.
 

dagamer34

macrumors 65816
May 1, 2007
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Houston, TX
I'm just wondering if Samsung has been peeking under the hood on Apple's chip designs over the past few years. It's like KFC asking Popeye's to mass produce their chicken buckets and handing them over the secret spices and herbs recipe.
What? Samsung doesn't custom design any of it's CPUs or GPUs. They largely use Qualcomm CPUs/SoCs in the US and Europe and ARM CPUs in Korea. What benefit would that be, even if it could actually decipher those designs?

This is what happens when people don't know what they are talking about. Blind accusations. :rolleyes:
 

TMay

macrumors 68000
Dec 24, 2001
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No way, why? The A7 chip is just merely equivalently to my 2005 AMD Athlon X2 with 1GB of RAM running light weighted xUbuntu. I have done the benchmark before. A7 does not even outperform my old Intel Pentium Dual Core. Most people in this days have at least some short of Dual core desktop processor inside their computer. A7 is far away from Intel Core i3.

A9 maybe close to intel processor from three or five years ago, but by them, Intel processor will be even more powerful than current generation.

The performance gap between ARM and x86 is huge. A7 might able to do one heavy application at time with no problem, but it will struggle when multitasking between multiple application running at same time. I could run games, AutoCAD, Photoshop at same time on my desktop setup, but no way with iPad.
I think that the point being expressed is that ARM will be "good enough" for many traditional desktop applications; it doesn't imply that ARM will supplant Intel on the desktop. My opinion is that Apple will at some point build an ARM powered desktop slotted in price below the Mac Mini, as well as a Mac Book Air class notebook powered by ARM that might be an iPad and separable keypad.

Regrettably for us all, Apple (desktop) is joined at the hip to a certain extent with Microsoft as so many users still require Windows only applications on Macs.
 
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