Apple Turns to Samsung for iPhone A9 Processor

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Apple and Samsung have apparently struck a chip fabrication deal through 2015 for iPhone processors. The deal will have Samsung making A9 processors starting in 2014 using a 14 nanometer process, and marks a change in Apple's move away from its tech rival for iPhone parts.

Apple can't break its chip making ties from Samsung yetApple can't break its chip making ties from Samsung yet

According to sources speaking with The Korea Economic Daily, Apple turned to Samsung because TSMC isn't as far ahead with its 14 nanometer chip fabrication process. The processors Samsung will make are destined for the iPhone 7.

Apple has been actively scaling back its reliance on Samsung for chip fabrication since the two companies have been fighting in court over mobile device patent infringement claims. Their ongoing legal battle has taken them into courts in several countries where both sides have aggressively accused the other of blatantly stealing technologies and designs they own.

The highest profile win so far came in August 2012 when a U.S. Federal Court jury awarded Apple over US$1 billion in damages after finding that Samsung infringed on a long list of iPhone and iPad-related patents. Part of the damages in the trial were tossed out after they were improperly calculated, and a new damages-specific trial to determine just how much money Samsung owes Apple is set for this fall.

Apple began moving its custom iPhone and iPad chip production to TSMC with a deal to begin making the A6 series earlier this year. By spring, Apple had dropped plans to use Samsung for the A7 processor in favor of TSMC, too.

Apple hasn't confirmed that Samsung will be producing the A9 processor line, but if Samsung is ahead of TSMC on its smaller chip manufacturing process it's likely Apple wouldn't have any other options available.

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Apple may not like Samsung, but that doesn't mean it can always avoid working with the chip maker. The Apple and Samsung relationship is like watching a soap opera.

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Lee Dronick

Am I correct in believing that Samsung is actually comprised of several different businesses. Component manufacturing, consumer products, and such. Anyway, this is business not a reality show.


I believe you have that right, Lee. The chip fab business has its’ own head. There is still a CEO over the whole business though.

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