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14nm FinFET process: Samsung creating Apple A9 chips, GlobalFoundries to start production in early 2015

14nm FinFET process: Samsung creating Apple A9 chips, GlobalFoundries to start production in early 2015

HONG KONG: Reports were tipping that Samsung is manufacturing Apple’s “A9” system-on-chip. Now, a recent report suggests that the South Korean company has started production of Apple A9 chipsets using a new 14nm FinFET process. Korea’s ET News reports citing industry insiders that the production for Apple’s A9 System-on-Chip (SoC) is under way in Samsung’s Austin plant.

The report pointed that the company has production units for 14nm FinFET process in Austin, US and Giheung (Korea); though it “began to produce A9 only in Austin as it is in the initial stage.” The report claims that Samsung’s Austin plant was chosen for the production on the Cupertino-based company’s request. It speculates “the Austin plant was chosen because of the next-generation chip’s problems with performance security and supply.”

Unfortunately, Samsung is yet to confirm that the 14nm FinFET chips are being manufactured for Apple. The report quotes Samsung as saying, “We cannot confirm whether we received orders from Apple or at which plant it will be produced.” Last month, a report pointed that Samsung will produce APs for the iPhone and iPad devices from next year. It even claimed that from 2016, the company would supply 80 percent of APs used in Apple devices, while the rest would be handled by TSMC. Earlier this month, a report tipped that the Taiwanese supplier Pegatron might get 50 percent of the total Apple allocation for the next-generation iPhone, expected to debut next year in September. For those unaware, Samsung was rumoured to be producing A8 chips for the iPhone 6 alongside the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). However, it turned out to be that the Apple A8 SoC was fabricated by TSMC, as revealed by Chipwork’s blog.

A recent rumour emerging from Apple’s supply chain in China suggested that the Cupertino-based giant has plans to launch a new 4-inch model, which can be expected to launch only in the second half of the year. The company is reportedly focusing majorly on one hand operations and will also target “female users.” Meanwhile, GlobalFoundries, the world’s second largest contract maker of semiconductors, plans to start volume production of chips using 14nm fabrication process in the first half of 2015, a little later than Samsung Electronics, but, possibly, earlier than Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. The company does not reveal who will be the first customers to use the manufacturing technology, but claims that there will be at least a number of them.

“We plan to begin volume production with a 14nm LPE (low power early) process in the first half of 2015 and then push ahead with a 14nm LPP (low power plus) process in the second half of the year,” said Chuck Fox, senior vice president of global sales at GlobalFoundries, in an interview with DigiTimes. GlobalFoundries will make chips using 14LPE fabrication process for numerous undisclosed customers, one of which could be Apple. The majority of GF’s customers reportedly prefer more advanced 14LPP fabrication process, which is supposedly due to be available in the second half of 2015. One of the most interesting things to find out is whether AMD plans to use GlobalFoundries’ services to make chips using 14LPE or 14LPP fabrication processes in 2015. Officially, the chip designer implies that next year it will sell chips made using 20nm and 28nm manufacturing technologies, but, perhaps, the company does not disclose all of its plans and there are surprises incoming