Report: Samsung to Catch up to Intel in 2014, Make 14 nm iPhone 7 SoC
July 15, 2013 10:00 AM
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Are the smartphone industry's most famous frienemies bffs again?
Are the world's top two smartphone makers -- Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
) and Apple, Inc. (
) -- returning to a friendlier relationship amid
mutually shrinking margins
a smartphone sales chill
? That's what a top Taiwanese newspaper is claiming.
I. Samsung to Hit 14 nm Mass Production in 2015, Make iPhone 7 SoC
After losing a
reported 80 percent
of its chip business with Apple by 2017 to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd. (
) (TSMC), there's a report that Samsung Electronics has regained that business.
The Korea Economic Daily
Monday that Samsung had scored and exclusive contract to manufacture the applications processor (AP) -- the central system-on-a-chip (SoC) -- for the iPhone 7 in 2015.
The report claims Apple and Samsung Electronics signed the exclusive contract on July 14.
More interestingly the new chip will reportedly use
14 nanometer (nm) FinFET transistors
. If the report and other rumors hold true, it indicates that Samsung may have caught up with Intel Corp. (
), who is expected to
launch another 22 nm refresh in 2014
and push out 14 nm chips in 2015.
Samsung will reportedly counter Intel with 14 nm SoCs in 2015. [Image Source: Semiaccurate]
Samsung and Apple are an intriguing storyline for obvious reasons, but the news that Samsung Electronics is confident it will catch up to Intel in 2015 is arguably the even bigger story here. That development has to come as a shock to Intel, who as recently as 2011 was
talking trash about "far behind" ARM chipmakers
like Samsung and TSMC were.
The success at racing towards 14 nm comes thanks to massive investment on Samsung's part. Samsung spent
$11.9B USD on research and development
$27.1B USD on facilities
(including fab) development in 2012 -- one of the biggest budgets in the industry. Among the big ticket items were a $2B USD new SoC line in South Korea and a
$4B USD addition to its Texas SoC chip line
Samsung is already
producing NAND flash storage chips
near to the 14 nm node (at the ambiguous 10-19 nm node).
II. Margins, Unit Sales Growth Stall May Force Samsung and Apple to Cooperate
According to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (
) 80 percent of Apple's annual $8.8B USD budget for third party chip contracts will go to Samsung in 2013. Samsung makes much of the storage chips for Apple, plus its A5 and A6 SoCs (and their 'x' variants). TSMC, meanwhile, stole away the A4 contract business (the chip found in the iPhone 4) from Samsung, prompting some to predict a total phase-out of Samsung's partnership with Apple.
Does the new contract represent an easing of legal tensions? That remains unknown. Apple and Samsung have
been rumored to be considering a settlement
for some time now. However, the pair
locked in a battle
in a California federal court
other international jurisdictions
, with no settlement yet officially announced.
Samsung Display -- a separate unit -- has
tried to distance itself from Apple
in the wake of the lawsuits. Likewise, the semiconductor unit has tried to become "less dependent" on Apple, looking to
produce chips for Qualcomm
, Inc. (QCOM) and
The Korea Economic Daily
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Nice spin
7/16/2013 10:09:09 AM
Even Intel is having trouble with 14nm (as reported by this illustrious publication):
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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