Apple and Taiwan-based TSMC have reportedly already begun manufacturing test of Apple’s next-generation A6 processor. The fact that Apple is reportedly working with TSMC on this may serve as a sign that Apple is moving away from Samsung as its chip supplier. The report cites “people with knowledge on the matter”.
Currently, Samsung is the only supplier of Apple’s current A5 chips, but Apple has hinted that it may be moving away from Samsung, possibly in response to their ongoing legal dispute with Samsung over patents and product design.
It’s currently not finalized that TSMC will produce the new chip for Apple. but the test run is said to be authorized. It’s possible that Apple may divide A6 production among several different manufacturers, though I personally find this unlikely. It’s also expected that Samsung will lower prices and fight to retain Apple’s business in manufacturing the A6.
There are a few hurdles that Apple will have to overcome if they move away from Samsung for production, such as the fact that Samsung has patents on some of the technology and design aspects of the A5 chip, meaning that Apple would have to make some changes in the implementation in order to avoid intellectual property disputes.
The A6 will likely debut next year as part of 3rd generation iPad, as the current trend is for Apple to place new technology in the iPad first, then shrink and optimize it later for use in the iPhone.
The A6 will reportedly use a new 28-nanometer process, making it smaller and more power efficient, and could be powerful enough to use inside future Macs, such as future models of the MacBook Air – an idea which has come to the surface before, and would certainly be a strong possibility.