It is widely believed that the smartphone patent battles between Apple and Samsung, and the growing success of Samsung's Galaxy S smartphone line has soured the relationship and caused Apple to find alternative suppliers. But there's no evidence cited to show that Apple has any real complaints about Samsung's manufacturing, pricing, or delivery of key mobile components, which come from business units entirely separate from the Korean company's smartphone unit.
By contrast, there's a powerful incentive for Samsung to keep Apple happy as a supplier, according to the Journal. "Apple's component orders from Samsung were set to hit around $10 billion last year, says Mark Newman, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein in Hong Kong. That represents a significant chunk of the 67.89 trillion won ($59.13 billion) Samsung posted in sales from its component business, which includes chips and displays. The Apple processor, where Samsung is currently the sole supplier, accounted for $5 billion of purchases in 2012, he estimates."
TSMC's first chips for Apple, according to the Journal, will be on its advanced 20-nanometer silicon process, which promises greater performance, potentially smaller physical size, and more efficient power use compared to the current generation of A series processors, which variously use 32- and 45-nanometer.
If TSMC can bring the 20nm process up to large-scale volumes in the first half of 2014, it might be possible to introduce those chips into mobile products announced in the second half of that year. On the other hand, 32- and 28-nanometer variants of the A6 and the still unknown A7 might provide all the processing power Apple needs through next year.
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