Apple's A6X processor, which is found in the company's fourth-generation iPad, might soon see its producer switched from Samsung to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.
Apple has agreed with TSMC to initiate trial production of its A6X processor during the first quarter, Taiwan-based Commercial Times is reporting, according to the AFP. The trial period could decide whether TSMC will be given the entire A6X order.
Samsung, Apple's arch-rival in the mobile market, is currently producing the company's A6X processor. However, with their legal and competitive struggles increasingly weighing on their business relationship, reports have suggested that Apple has been looking for a change.
In October, CNET reported that Apple was considering a drawdown in its reliance on Samsung's processor production. Gus Richard, a chip analyst at Piper Jaffray, told CNET that Apple was "working with TSMC." Another chip industry source told CNET at the time that the "Apple-Samsung relationship has deteriorated to such a poor point that they're just looking to fill contractual obligations, then make a change."
That said, those sources indicated that Apple's switch to TSMC would coincide with its transition to 20-nanometer technology. Still, a source told CNET last year that Apple was planning to kick off the design process early on this year, and then go into production in full force by the end of 2013 -- a scenario that might be playing out with this latest move.
It's important to acknowledge, however, that this would be just a trial production. Apple and TSMC would be testing the waters to see if the latter can deliver enough solid processors to handle demand and accommodate Apple's notoriously high standards for chip quality. If TSMC can pull it off, Samsung might be pushed out. If not, Apple might have to go back to the drawing board.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the report. We will update this story when we have more information.
(Via 9to5 Mac)