updated 11:40 pm EDT, Wed October 5, 2011
TSMC and Apple have tech discussions
TSMC is sending an envoy to Cupertino to discuss more details of manufacturing Apple A6 chips, insiders revealed late Wednesday. The talks, which Digitimes claims are to pledge "full support," should talk about 28 nanometer chip manufacturing yields as well as patent terms. Global UniChip, which is working with TSMC and has rights to use ARM's Cortex CPU and Mali graphics, is also believed to be part of the visit.
Global UniChip would reportedly help make the circuit boards for the processors.
Apple is believed to want the A6 in full-scale production for early 2012. To do that using the 28nm, quad-core chips it's believed to require, it will need reliable chip yields to meet its production targets. Apple will also need to clear the licenses to use the chips.
The decision to move to TSMC hasn't been confirmed by Apple but is believed to have both practical and political factors. Although reducing dependency on Samsung is an important factor, Apple may simply want TSMC because it could get to 28nm faster. NVIDIA's Kal-El, or Tegra 3, is built on a 40nm process and won't be as efficient or fast if Apple can use TSMC for the A6.
The iPad 3 should be the first to use the A6, in early spring, followed by future iPhones and iPods.