Apple is “likely” to order processors for its iOS-running devices from Intel once it is done with its 2017 releases, insiders said on Friday. Hence, consumers can expect their new devices from the Cupertino giant to come with Intel chips starting 2018.
According to Nikkei Asian Reveiw, Intel's recent pledge to expand its chip-making business is actually a move that the company is doing to secure that Apple would ask it for chip supplies and hopefully ditch Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), though the latter is set to provide the Cupertino giant with processor chips for its 2016-2017 lineup of iOS devices.
As part of this move, Intel, which is the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue, has revealed that it will be licensing technology from ARM to widen its reach among smartphone companies. Intel has apparently been struggling in the mobile industry, while ARM is monopolizing smartphone chip technology, so this deal is necessary in order for Intel to realize its plan.
For TSMC’s part, it has become the largest contract chipmaker because of its close partnership with ARM over the past decade. However, TSMC is based in Taiwan, while Intel is based in the U.S., and given that Apple has been yearning to order key components of its devices from a U.S.-based firm, Intel’s move could really make Apple reconisder its partnership with TSMC.
"TSMC could face tough competition as soon as 2018 or 2019 as Intel is likely to gain orders from Apple by then. Intel has begun to engage with Apple and it aims to grab one or two top-tier customers from TSMC,” veteran semiconductor analyst at research company Gartner Samuel Wang said.
MacRumors reports that Intel could be Apple’s supplier of a portion of the tentatively named A12 chips for the Cupertino giant’s iPhones in 2018, since TSMC has already been confirmed to be the supplier of A10 and A11 chips for this year’s iPhone 7 models and next year’s 10th anniversary iPhone, respectively.
"Intel is definitely the most formidable challenger for TSMC. There is no rivalry between Apple and Intel so it's really likely that Apple could shift some orders there. The move is also in line with Washington's policy to encourage U.S. companies to make more products at home,” a senior Taiwanese chip industry executive told Nikkei.
With Intel’s decision to partner with ARM, Apple will soon have another CPU supplier option aside from TSMC and Samsung. It can be noted that Apple exclusively partnered with Samsung for its processors a few years back before dividing that responsibility to TSMC and the South Korean brand for the A9 processor of its iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus and iPhone SE handsets, Apple Insider has learned.