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Apple and Samsung are locked in a take-no-prisoners battle for smartphone supremacy, but the two massive global corporations have managed to grit their teeth and sign a deal for Apple A9 processor chips, destined for a future iPhone 7.
Despite the fact, of course, that we have yet to see either the iPhone 5S or 6.
According to a report in the Korean Economic Daily, Samsung has regained Apple’s business due to the company’s technical expertise in getting first to the 14-nanometer chips. Samsung’s biggest competitor for Apple’s business is Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC), which Apple just signed a deal with as well, though most likely for A8 chips for Apple’s iPhone 6.
14-nanometer chips have just 14 nanometers between logic elements on the chip.
Since a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick, the A9 chip will fit over 7,000 components in just the thickness of a page, and some scientists have said this degree of miniaturization approaches the theoretical maximum, and that going any smaller will result in quantum tunneling effects that would render calculations unstable.
The current state of the art is 20-nanometer.
It’s likely that if TSCM can crack the 14-nanometer fabrication process, Apple will sign a deal with it for A9 chips as well, as Apple prefers to have multiple vendors for components both for supply chain safety and price competition.
Apple has been working to sign a deal with Taiwan Semi for years, but the company has been slow to approach Samsung’s level of chip-building expertise in A9 chips, despite being a global chip market leader. You can bet Apple would rather put money into Taiwan Semi than into its arch-rival Samsung.
But you have to do what you have to do, apparently.