It’s been a long time coming but the Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Apple has finally signed a deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) to make some of the chips for its mobile devices starting in 2014. The move is seen as yet another effort by Apple to diversify its supply chain and reduce its reliance on Samsung, even though the latter will still remain a key partner for several other components.
According to the paper, which cites unnamed TSMC executives, the new supply deal will give TSMC a boost as it adopts costly new manufacturing technology. The world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips will reportedly make up about 8% of its revenue from Apple orders by 2014, and analysts say that could climb to 15% the next year if Apple buys 60% of the chips it needs from the Taiwanese firm.
The report notes it is unlikely for Apple to shift all chip manufacturing orders to TSMC because the company would prefer to diversify its supply base to cut risk and maintain leverage. Mark Li, an analyst at Bernstein Research speculates Intel could also be a credible contender for Apple’s foundry business down the line.
That’s more or less in line with rumors coming out of the grapevine in recent months, which have Samsung serving up half of Apple's A7 orders while TSMC and Intel fab take the remaining 40% and 10%.
For its part, Samsung will likely offset the loss of Apple orders by churning out chips for its own products and other chip makers like Qualcomm. The South Korean company is also expected to remain in Cupertino’s supplier mix for other components such as high-resolution screens and memory chips, for the time being.