According to IC Insights, "Apple's orders have been the driving force behind Samsung's foundry business." Up until now, Samsung Electronics has been the sole supplier of CPUs that power the existing iPhones and iPads. Yet fresh rumors out of Taiwan this morning state that it appears more than likely that TSMC will start producing chips for Apple's next iOS devices in 2013.
TSMC chairman and CEO Morris Chang previously hinted that it makes complete sense to dedicate a whole fab, or two whole fabs, to just one customer in order to supply enough chips for their high-volume products.
TSMC recently broke ground for the sixth-phase construction of its Fab 14, a 12-inch wafer plant located in southern Taiwan. The new facility will become TSMC's first fab to mass produce 20nm SoCs, and 16nm FinFET chips, the foundry revealed.
Demand from Apple is expected to be huge, said the observers, adding that allocation of TSMC's available advanced process capacity among its major clients will be a critical decision to be made by the foundry.
Apple's iPhone and iPad devices collectively demand almost 200 million CPUs every year, the observers estimate. DigiTimes is reporting that TSMC will need at least more than 200,000 12-inch wafers ready to satisfy the huge demand from Apple.
The timing of the switch is interesting considering that Apple could be looking to advance their processor with some of the new breakthroughs that are coming to the ARM Cortex A15.