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Samsung’s chipmaking plans may see it pitching for Apple’s business


Samsung’s chipmaking plans revealed today suggest that the company may be hoping to compete with TSMC for Apple’s A-series and M-series chip business.

The Korean company is not only targeting 3nm processes and beyond, but also plans to make these new advanced chips in the US…

Background

Up to and including the iPhone 6S, Apple used to split its A-series chip manufacturing between TSMC and Samsung.

However, TSMC subsequently developed a technical lead which saw it win all of Apple’s business for the A10 Fusion chip used in the iPhone 7. This was a 64-bit chip built on TSMC’s 16nm process, and was the first Apple-designed quad-core chip, having two high-performance cores and two efficiency cores. This gave the iPhone 7 a 40% boost in CPU power, and a 50% increase in GPU performance, without sacrificing battery life

Since then, TSMC has remained ahead of Samsung when it comes to ever smaller processes, and has won all of Apple’s business for iPhones, iPads, and Apple Silicon Macs.

Samsung chipmaking plans

Bloomberg reports that Samsung now has announced plans to rapidly move to smaller chipmaking processes, aiming for next-gen 3nm by 2024, 2nm in 2025, and 1.4nm by 2027.

Samsung Electronics Co. announced an aggressive five-year plan to lure US chip buyers with more advanced technology, aiming to produce transistors that are just 1.4 nanometers wide by 2027 […]

The Korean chipmaker now sees its 3nm chip process as its “game changer,” Kang said, and first started production at that node ahead of TSMC. It’s pouring three times more resources into 3nm production than it did with previous tech generations in an effort to meet client demand […]

The company aims to take the lead in advanced chipmaking by starting mass production of second-generation 3nm chips in 2024 and then 2nm parts in 2025. That will set the stage for the 1.4nm products two years later.

Apple is expected to switch to a 3nm process for the A17 chip in the iPhone 15, as well as the M2 Pro chip for future Macs. Samsung achieving 3nm by 2024 would leave it around a year behind TSMC, and potentially on track to catch up by 2025.

A second clue to Samsung’s goal is the fact that it plans to make these advanced chips in the US, something which might well appeal to Apple.

Part of Samsung’s pitch to US customers is its decision to manufacture in America. Samsung has an existing plant in Austin, Texas, and is building one in the nearby city of Taylor. That new plant, which is set to begin operations in 2024, is likely to use the latest production methods, such as 3nm technology […]

Samsung could become an even bigger manufacturer in Texas if needed, Kang said. The company has secured enough sites in the region to let it grow to meet demand.

TSMC recently completed construction of a new chip facility in Arizona, with mass production scheduled for 2024. It has not been confirmed that this plant will make A-series and M-series chips for Apple, but that has been regularly rumored. When TSMC was seeking subsidies for the plant, Apple helped lobby for the cash.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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