Apple’s New A6 Quad-Core Chip: Samsung or TSMC?

December 13, 2011, By George Lang

By now, the fact that the A6 chip in Apple’s next-gen iPad 3 will be a quad-core, 28 nano-meter design is no surprise to most technophiles. That it figures to be installed in the upcoming iPhone 5 has been leaked. What you may not know is that it will likely be the brains of Apple’s new HDTV as well (MacRumors). Even more elusive is finding out who will be supplying the chip.

Rumors are beginning to take shape that South Korea’s Samsung will supply the new Apple A6 “system-on-a-chip.”

No one knows for sure; but, despite ongoing legal battles between the consumer electronic giants, Apple continues to embrace the Samsung product; largely because of its lower price (SlashGear); and, according to unnamed Samsung insiders, Taiwan’s TSMC manufacturing process is being scrutinized along with its ability to deliver the required capacity. Nonetheless, TSMC has plans to invest $9.3 billion in a new chip fabrication facility.

The prize is an enormous slice of the mobile chip market via Apple’s prolific distribution profile. In an earlier DeviceMAG article we previewed the likely scenario for the iPad 3 which indicated a 9.8 million product distribution worldwide. That’s 9.8 million A6 chips! Add to that the iPhone 5, and the Apple HDTV shipments and you’ve got an enormous slice of the pie for Samsung.

Neither Samsung nor TSMC (or even Apple itself, for that matter) is likely to take solace with all their “apples” in only one basket. So, it is likely they will all remain closely bound, whether they are comfortable that way or not. Remember, many additional smartphone and tablet clients will also be vying for Apple’s prolific slice of the mobile pie.

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