Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), has high hopes for its forthcoming 20-nanometer chip production process, which only increases industry speculation that Apple is planning to adopt the company’s chips for its iPhone and iPad devices in 2014.
Apple’s anticipated switch to TSMC from its current chip provider Samsung has been rumored for years, but has not yet become a reality. TSMC CEO Morris Chang made a bullish prediction last week that its 20-nanometer chips, which will go into production in 2014, will outsell its existing 28-nanometer chips in the first two years.
While Chang wouldn’t comment directly on the Apple rumors, he did indicate that TSMC has had “enough discussions” with “enough customers” to believe that sales of the 20-nanometer chips will be “very large.”
Market watchers see his comments as an indication that Apple will become a TSMC 20-nanometer chip client next year. Currently all of Apple’s custom chips for their iOS devices are manufactured by frenemy Samsung.
Apple has a vested interest in reducing their reliance on Samsung for custom components for their devices, as the Korean company also competes with Apple by making its own tablets, phones, and computers. The two firms have been engaged in a number of patent infringement suits, with both sides charging the other has copied its devices and stolen their technology.
Patrick Liao, an analyst with Nomura Securities, says the threat of such technology theft is why firms like Nvidia and AMD deal with TSMC to make their chips instead of Samsung. Unlike Samsung, TSMC shows no interest in building its own consumer devices.