Samsung Austin Semiconductor is investing approximately $4 billion in a chip fab most famously used to manufacture custom processors for Apple’s iPhone and iPad lineup.
According to a Samsung rep, the funds will be used to renovate existing fabrication operations to accommodate full System LSI production - with the remodeled fabrication line primarily expected to produce state-of-the-art mobile SoCs on 300mm wafers at the 28nm process node.
As AppleInsider’s Sam Oliver points out, the rather sizable investment is intended to bolster production of ARM-based chips used in smartphones and tablets - which is also getting a boost from a new $1.98 billion logic chip plant the electronics giant is currently building in South Korea.
Despite an ongoing patent battle with Samsung, Apple heavily relies on Samsung to fab its indigenously designed processors for iOS devices.
Unsurprisingly, there have been persistent rumors that Cupertino is moving to end its chip dependence on the South Korean-based corporation, with some reports claiming Apple has already inked a lucrative deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
Nevertheless, it seems as if Samsung remains the sole manufacturer (thus far) of Apple’s A5 and A5X chips that power the iPhone 4s and third-gen iPad. As tech guru Charlie Demerjian noted back in June, the already uneasy relationship between Apple and Samsung will undoubtedly become even more strained if iOS chip production is shifted to TSMC.
"Samsung is in the process of building a fab that is more or less dedicated to Apple, or so insiders tell is. If this is true, and Apple just said, 'Nice of you to build that for us, but we are going over to TSMC' at this late stage, you can be pretty sure Samsung won't be pleased," Demerjian wrote in an analysis published on SemiAccurate back in June.
"Could TSMC making Apple CPUs be the underlying cause of the Samsung/Apple tiff of late? Possibly. Even if it isn't the sole cause, wherever the chips end up being made, we are very likely seeing a contributing factor to a very public shouting match. Strap in, this one is going to be a lot of fun, as long as you aren't paying the lawyers."