Apple has reportedly struck a three-year deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and its IC design service partner Global UniChip for the upcoming generations of the A-series chips found in Apple's iPhones and iPads. A trial run of manufacturing the 20-nanometer A8 chip destined for an upcoming iPhone could begin as soon as July.
According to a Digitimes report that cites anonymous industry sources, TSMC and Global UniChip will supply Apple with A-series chips built on 20-nanometer, 16-nanometer and 10-nanotmeter process nodes over the next three years, starting with a 20-nanometer A8 chip that will begin limited trial runs next month. Production of the A8 chip is expected to ramp up in December, with a new iPhone featuring the A8 chip launching early 2014.
By the end of the third-quarter of 2014, TSMC will begin mass production of Apple's A9 and A9X processors, which will be used in new iPhone and iPad models respectively, the sources say.
Digitimes report details further information about the alleged deal between Apple and TSMC, claiming that the chip maker's phase-4, -5, and -6 facilities at its Fab 14 location in Taiwan will be dedicated solely to manufacturing Apple's A-series chips.
This is not the first we've heard of a possible deal between Apple and TSMC. It has been speculated for some time, as Samsung, Apple's biggest rival, is currently the sole supplier of Apple's custom A-series chips.
Apple debuted its A-series chip, the A4, with the first iPad in 2010. Apple's latest iPhone, the iPhone 5, has an A6 chip, while the fourth-generation iPad uses an A6X chip.