Apple’s dependence on Samsung for making its mobile device processors is well known, and a continually sore point for the Cupertino company – especially now that it’s involved in dozens of lawsuits against the Korean giant around the world. Naturally, Apple may want to do something about that, and slowly cut its reliance on Samsung for iPhone and iPad parts. At least that’s what’s been rumored countless times so far.
In Apple’s quest to depend as little as possible on Samsung, Intel may be an ally. In fact, Intel could make as much as 10% of the Apple A7 mobile processors (the successor to the A6 chips that are currently employed in Apple’s wares). The A7 may make its debut on the iPhone 5S that’s due to be released later this year, and Apple is apparently thinking about contracting Intel for making its new chipset. With a CEO change looming at Intel, that company may become a lot more open to providing foundry services to third parties than it ever was until now. That means it will act just like a ‘factory’, making chips for other companies, while not participating in the design of the parts. So far this has been out of the question, but with desktop computer shipments contracting, and mobile solutions from Intel not yet being widely adopted, something has to be done to keep Intel’s fabs working in full order.
Alongside Intel, TSMC will take a big chunk out of Apple’s A7 orders, arond 40%. TSMC has been rumored to replace Samsung in Apple’s supply chain many times now, but that’s still yet to happen. Even in this scenario, put forth by unnamed “institutional investors”, Samsung would still retain a 50% share of the A7 manufacturing. And TSMC would only start making processors for Apple in 2014, according to the same anonymous sources.
Interestingly, we’re told that Samsung used to be the sole supplier for Apple-designed processors as well as multiple other parts for the Cupertino company’s mobile devices because others wouldn’t work on such low profit margins. Samsung agreed to, but now things are changing in the mobile space – Samsung is the world’s No.1 smartphone maker and a direct competitor for Apple. Even so, you can appreciate how hard it is to find suppliers that can work on the scale that Apple needs and do it on the cheap – years after the first rumors about “Apple ditching Samsung” appeared, that’s still an ongoing process. Furthermore, at least in terms of chipset making, Samsung’s still going to produce the biggest chunk, even of the next-gen part.