Apple's iPhone processor partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly landed CPU orders for Apple's upcoming next-generation iPad expected to be released in early 2015. If Apple's marketing is to be consistent, then the new 12.9 inch iPad is likely be branded the iPad Plus – though it's far from being a guarantee.
We reported last week that Apple suppliers were struggling to meet the strong demand for the new iPhones and have pushed back their plans to start producing the 12.9 inch iPad in December. Today's revelation that the iPad is expected to ship in early 2015 is in line with that pushback.
What is new is that TSMC will continue to make the new iPad CPUs on a 20nm process that's found in the current iPad. However, the new processors, tentatively codenamed A8X, will use a larger System on a Chip (SoC).
The larger iPad Plus is likely to introduce a next-gen Smart Cover with a built-in Keyboard or include some form of a hybrid design that will allow for a notebook-like keyboard accessory. Either accessory will support the larger iPad that is reportedly set to serve the professional market which Microsoft's Surface 3 is now targeting. HP is set to introduce a 15 inch tablet this fall with a soft keyboard cover and kickstand. So this is something we'll be watching for in 2015 when Apple's iPad Plus debuts.
The DigiTimes report also noted that beyond Apple's A8 processors, TSMC also produces a number of peripheral chips for the iPhone 6 devices, including Dialog's power management (PWM) ICs, Qualcomm's 4G baseband chips, Synaptics' LCD driver ICs, InvenSense's 6-axis gyroscopes, and AuthenTec's fingerprint sensors.
Due to their extensive work with Apple's processors and peripheral chips, it's understandable that TSMC is confident that they'll be able land orders for Apple's next generation A9 processor.