Samsung to make Apple’s next A9 chip for iPhone 6S

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The next iPhone, the iPhone 6S, will reportedly use mostly Samsung-manufactured chips to power the new device, according to a new report in Korean publication MK Business.

 

iPhone 6s A9 CPU to be made by Samsung

In the past, Apple has used a variety of manufacturers to actually create its Ax series of CPUs found in its iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch. But according to recent reports, Samsung has won the majority of orders (around 75%) to produce the next A-series chip (the A9) that will be used in the iPhone 6.

Samsung (in partnership with Global Foundries) is one of the few companies in the world that has enough capacity for chip production to supply enough for Apple’s hugely popular iPhones and iPads. It already created the A7 system-on-chip (SoC) that Apple used in the iPhone 5S, but Taiwan-based rival TSMC has also been tapped to produce chips in recent years. The actual percentage split between the two companies isn’t know, but Samsung looks like it’s already won the bulk of orders for the next chip – the A9 (iPhone) and A9X (iPad).

Samsung Global Foundries - iPhone 6S chip production

Despite Apple and Samsung’s rivalry in smartphones, the division of Samsung that manufactures chips is considered a separate entity from Samsung Electronics (which makes its phones and consumer electronics).

Apple licenses generic chip designs from ARM, and then customises the core and pairs it with a GPU from Imagination Technologies (in which Apple owns a stake). Apple has been building its chip design expertise in recent years, ever since acquiring fabless semiconductor company PA Semi in 2008. The chips that Apple produces appear on slower on paper than rival chips from Qualcomm and Samsung, but real-world performance has been consistently shown to eclipse its competitors, despite a slower clock speed.

Apple was first to 64-bit

This year, in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple used its latest A8 CPU, but incorporated a faster version for the iPad Air 2 with over 3 billion transistors. Apple was also the first company to produce a 64-bit mobile CPU, a fact that initially attracted criticism (why would you need 64-bit in a mobile phone?) – since then, Qualcomm, Samsung and every other mobile chip designer has raced to catch up and release a 64-bit chip. Android Lollipop now also includes 64-bit support, so it makes you wonder if 64-bit isn’t actually needed, then why is everyone else touting the benefits now too?

There has been recent speculation that Apple will eventually seek to replace Intel chips in its laptops, such as the 2015 MacBook Air, which will supposedly be a completely new design, but its unlikely in the near future that Apple’s chips yet have the grunt required. Still, just as Apple has put itself in control of its own destiny in mobile chip design, it could one day be well served by doing the same for desktop and laptop machines.

SOURCE: MK Business

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