Chipworks is in the process of delayering Apple's A7, but they just confirmed what we mentioned in our iPhone 5s review: Apple's A7 is built at Samsung using their 28nm HK+MG process, the same used for the Exynos 5410/5420. The confirmation comes by looking at contacted gate pitch, which is similar to that of other devices using Samsung's 28nm HK+MG process (and smaller than the previous generation 32nm A6). I'm sure we'll get more details once Chipworks goes further.

Apple has been running test silicon at TSMC for a while now, and will likely shift the production of some silicon there in the not too distant future. I'm not expecting a clean switch from Samsung to TSMC, but rather a hybrid solution where Apple produces some silicon at TSMC and some at Samsung. We may even see it split across SoC lines rather than a mix for one SoC.

Rumors of an Intel foundry deal cropped up again recently, but it's far too early for something like that. Not to mention that the deal that was being worked on wasn't for 22nm.

Source: Chipworks via EE Times

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  • vision33r - Saturday, September 21, 2013 - link

    Intel has zero interest in apple chip business unless it includes x86 adoption. They are not bleeding red and their business models depends on their x86 designs. Arm is a competitor there's no way intel would fab competing arm chips.
  • Qwertilot - Sunday, September 22, 2013 - link

    Apple really isn't a competitor though - very minimal chances of them using anything else for iOS and even harder imagining them licensing them outside - so they might. Now Qualcom....

    If Apple did get forced into making chips then it was by the enormous revenues of iOS. Just so big and profitable that there's enough scale to get a very good monetary pay back on doing it. The safety/independence is probably even more important mind. Same reasons that Samsung are likely to keep making chips I guess.

    I dunno if they'll ever switch the macs over or if they'll just enjoy menacing Intel with the idea :) Maybe if/when processors become outright commodities.
  • ancientarcher - Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - link

    If I could have a penny for every time someone said that Apple won't move its notebook line to its own ARM chips!! Have you seen the CPU/GPU benchmarks for the A7 before saying that ARM chips are nowhere near x86 designs??

    The A7 chip (on a 1.5W TDP) is 40% of the CPU performance of the ivy-bridge core i7 chips (at 35-45 W TDP) with graphics performance is nearly 50% of the Intel chips (please see Geekbench 3.0 results that Anand posted). And this, in a 28nm planar process node versus Intel chips at 22nm trigate. Now, what happens when the ARM ecosystem foundries move to 20nm next year and 14/16nm trigate in 2015? Don't you think that if Apple chip designers can bring out a 64bit low power ARM chip, they will also be able to do a higher energy (6-8W TDP) more powerful chip for its notebooks?? Why should apple want to pay $350-$450 for an Intel chip versus $20-30 for chips of its own design, particularly when its own design chips will be better across all dimensions - power consumption, CPU and GPU power???

    About legacy, Apple has done it before (from power to x86) and they will do it again (from x86 to ARM).

    Intel apologists need to think where things will be in a year's time
  • bobbozzo - Sunday, September 22, 2013 - link

    Hi, please expand or link acronyms; e.g HK+MG = "28nm Low-Power High-K Metal Gate Logic".


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