Apple's next-generation iPhone processor is rumored to have entered its final stage of design, according to a recent report by Digitimes. Being called the "A7", Apple's upcoming custom silicon is expected to be the next notch in the company's A-series APU line-up.
Few details are known about the A7 -- including whether or not it will be called an A7 -- but it is expected to be an ARM-based processor based on a 20nm design. Production of the chip is also expected to begin no sooner than Q1 2014, meaning it will be some time before we see new silicon being slipped into our iPhones, iPads and iPods.
Interestingly, investors believe Samsung will serve up half of Apple's A7 orders while TSMC and Intel fab the remaining 40 and 10 percent, respectively.
In November 2012, TSMC announced a roughly $17 billion investment in "Fab 14" -- the same facility rumored to begin cranking out chips for Apple. Little did we know at the time, but TSMC may have been preparing for its upcoming Apple A7 deal since last year.
Until recently, it seemed Samsung had been the go-to manufacturer for Apple when it came to producing mass quantities of processors and memory for its iThings. This would be the first A-series chip not entirely manufactured by Samsung.
There is little doubt the relationship between Apple and Samsung has been deeply marred since their legal falling-out. One of the first signs of this was when Elipda memory chips began displacing Samsung-branded ones. Apple's partial transition to TSMC and Intel is likely an effort to further distance itself from Samsung.