Over the past few years, Apple has increasingly taken greater steps in its efforts to control the entire widget. Nowhere is this more clear than in Apple’s homegrown designed A4 and A5 processors which offer speedy performance coupled with efficient power consumption that competitors are still struggling to match.
As it stands now, Samsung manufactures the chips for Apple on a foundry basis, though recent reports have intimated that Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) may soon start manufacturing Apple’s A5 dual-core processor chips as well. One of the factors driving Apple’s decision to stray from Samsung is undoubtedly the fact that the South Korean based company is increasingly becoming a strong competitor to Apple. Indeed, Apple filed suit against Samsung for patent infringement just a few weeks ago only to be followed by a Samsung countersuit against Apple. Other factors behind Apple’s decision to tap Taiwan Semiconductor include the fact that TSMC has the highest yielding 40-nm process in the foundry world while also possessing the most 40-nm capacity.
But this may soon be a three man race.
EE Times is reporting that Intel is now vying to to get into the AX manufacturing business.
”Based on a number of inputs, we believe Intel is also vying for Apple’s foundry business,” said Gus Richard, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co., in a new report.
”It makes strategic sense for both companies. The combination of Apple’s growing demand and market share in smart phones and tablets gives Intel a position in these markets and drives the logic volume Intel needs to stay ahead in manufacturing,” Richard said.
”Intel’s manufacturing lead gives Apple an additional competitive advantage in these markets and distances it from Asian competitors that are knocking off its products,” he said. ”Furthermore, it would also serve to weaken Samsung who is a significant competitive threat to both companies.”
Still, don’t expect any sudden changes just yet.
Samsung will remain Apple’s go-to for A5 production for the time being as it will take Apple a substantial amount of time to move foundry suppliers. Also, note that the A4 and A5 chips use architectural licenses from ARM. Is Intel really going to get into that game?
As for Intel, news that they had a foundry unit flying under the radar first surfaced back in November, 2010.