Apple May Have Tapped Taiwan’s TSMC For A6X Processor Production

Apple is looking to shift production of its mobile device processors to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company sooner rather than later, according to Taiwan-based newspaper The Commercial Times (via AppAdvice). A new report from the publication claims that Apple will have TSMC, the world’s largest chip foundry, begin production of the A6X (found in the 4th generation iPad) as early as the first quarter of 2013.

While The Commercial Times isn’t always accurate as a source of rumors, a potential shift of processor manufacturing from Apple’s current partner in Samsung to TSMC has reportedly been in the cards for some time now. A report from August 2011 saw Apple kick-off trial production with the Taiwan-based processor foundry, and there were rumblings that TSMC would get a much larger share of Apple’s processor business back in November. Today’s report also agrees with one from December that suggested Apple’s shift to using TSMC’s 28nm process in its chip production (vs. Samsung’s 32nm method) would happen earlier than expected, though at the time the Taipei Times reported that the second quarter of 2013 was a likely start date for the shift.

Other evidence that suggests Apple could be working with TSMC to start building A6X processors sooner rather than later include the construction of a massive new chip factory in the U.S., which was revealed by The Oregonian around mid-December. Apple’s A-series processors are currently built by Samsung in Texas, so replacing that supply source with another U.S.-based production facility makes sense. Apple has also been making other moves that indicate it’s reducing its dependence on Samsung as a chip supplier, including poaching a top Samsung chip designer, and reducing the Korean company’s role in the chip design process.