updated 07:40 am EDT, Fri July 15, 2011
TSMC being gauged on A6 chip production levels
One source leaked overnight that Apple was at least experimenting with plans to make the A6 through TSMC. The Taiwanese contractor is said in practice runs that would gauge whether or not its manufacturing yields of working chips were enough that it could be trusted production. All the "authorisation and details" were ready and were just hinging on Apple's reaction, Reuters was told.
TSMC wouldn't confirm or deny the plans.
Details of the A6 aren't known, but it's presumed Apple will go quad-core much like the industry will in the near future with chips such as NVIDIA's Kal-El. Any chips aren't likely to show until early 2012.
Despite rumors of an early switch from Apple for the A5, Apple has so far kept largely to Samsung for manufacturing. TSMC is often considered the strongest independent chip manufacturer but isn't necessarily at the scale of a company like Samsung, whose semiconductor business is considered by many to be the largest in the world.
Apple has said it would remain a partner with Samsung in spite of troubles, but an intensifying legal battle may make Apple keen to reduce its dependence on a company with an incentive to create problems. A switch to TSMC may also be a way of imposing a further financial penalty. Samsung counts Apple as an important processor customer and its largest flash memory customer, and a loss of business in any one area could damage it right at the moment it was restructuring the group to offset troubles dragging down company profits.