Apple Reportedly Strikes Deal With TSMC for A6X Production

Apple TSMC AX Chip Deal

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., better known as TSMC, may soon become Apple’s major supplier of mobile chips for iDevices as the Cupertino company moves to distance itself from longtime legal rival Samsung, according to reports early Wednesday from The Commercial Times, as translated by AFP. TSMC will reportedly begin its relationship with Apple by manufacturing the fourth-generation iPad’s A6X processor in the first quarter of 2013.

Rumors of a future relationship between TSMC, the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, and Apple have persisted since the last quarter of 2012. The move by Apple comes in the wake of a major legal battle with its current chip supplier, Samsung.

Apple, which designs its own mobile device processors but contracts with other companies to build them, has participated in an awkward relationship with the Korean electronics giant for years. The two companies compete heavily in the mobile phone and tablet industries, as well as the courtroom, but cooperate closely on the manufacture of the A-series ARM-based processors that power Apple’s core devices like the iPhone and iPad.

After Apple won a highly contentious patent infringement suit against Samsung in late August 2012, the iDevice maker began to draw back its relationship with the Korean firm, signaling strongly that deals between the two rivals would soon be at an end.

Apple’s interest in TSMC for future chip production is based not only on the company’s independent status but also on the 20nm design process in which it specializes. Future quad-core A-series chips will benefit greatly from a 20nm design that TSMC currently seems uniquely qualified to provide.

Neither Apple nor TSMC have yet responded to the reports.