Apple wants a new chip supplier STAT

We recently reported that Apple is working with Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC to design 20nm quad-core chips for use in future iOS devices.

Indeed, according to Citigroup analyst J.T. Hsu, TSMC will ultimately act as Cupertino’s sole supplier for the 20nm processors, which could power devices such as the iPad by 2014 and make their way into future iTVs and even MacBooks. 

Interestingly, Hsu’s claims have been bolstered by a new analysis in The Korea Times, which confirms Apple is “moving quickly” to reduce its reliance on Samsung’s semiconductor capability in the wake of several acrimonious patent disputes.

To be sure, Cupertino apparently refrained from collaborating with Samsung while developing its A6 microprocessor which powers the company’s flagship iPhone 5. In addition, says the Korea Times, Apple has made it clear it will no longer use its Samsung’s technology in future products. 

“[Our] agreement with Apple is limited to manufacturing the A6 processors,” a senior Samsung official told the publication. “Apple did all the design and we are just producing the chips on a foundry basis.”

Another Samsung official expressed similar sentiments.

”Samsung has already acknowledged that Apple has an appetite to carry out its own central processing unit (CPU) design,” said the source. “Apple is threatened by Samsung’s rapid rise. Apple is excluding it from major projects. However, it can’t completely wipe Samsung from its business partner list.”

Meanwhile, a separate report from Barclays seems to confirm that TSMC will kick off production of Apple’s A7 processors in the first quarter of 2014, with hundreds of TSMC researchers and chip developers poised to manufacture processors that are free from Samsung patents. 

However, a senior Samsung exec said the corporation was not overly concerned about Apple’s eventual departure.  

”Although Apple has excluded Samsung from key projects, we’re not too worried as Samsung is selling more custom chips to other major companies such as Qualcomm and Nvidia,” he claimed. 

In other industry chip news, former AMD chip designer Jim Mergard – who worked on the company’s x86 Brazos processor – was recently hired by Apple after performing a short stint at Samsung. 

Former AMD executive turned analyst Patrick Moorhead told the Wall Street Journal that Mergard is an expert in both classic PC technology and mobile SoCs.

Besides the current breed of Apple smartphones and tablets, Moorhead says Mergard’s talents could potentially be applied to Apple’s PC efforts, where its Macs use Intel chips but not SoCs.

“He [certainly] would be very capable of pulling together internal and external resources to do a PC processor for Apple,” Moorhead added.