The China Times is reporting that Apple has approved Taiwan-based chip foundry Unimicron Technology Corporation as a small-scale supplier for its A-Series ARM SoC in preparation for future manufacturing expansion, as Apple seeks to move as much of its chipset and component orders away from Samsung as a result of the continuing litigation between both companies related to patent and trade dress disputes regarding Samsung’s Android devices and Apple’s iPhone.
The approval also means that Apple’s long-rumored transition away from Samsung as its main component supplier is moving quicker than previously rumored, as the company has also been said to have moved away from sourcing iPad/PC components from Samsung as well, such as batteries and displays for both the iPad and the MacBook line.
With TSMC also being called upon to manufacture Apple’s A-Series of ARM chipsets in Taiwan, Apple looks to be cutting off any business ties to Samsung as quickly as it can while it waits for Unimicron to bring its latest plant online in order to ramp up A-Series chip production close to current levels, which is expected early next year.
Currently, the majority of Apple A-Series chip production is produced within Samsung’s latest foundry located outside of Austin TX under the SEMCO banner, which was recently expanded in order to meet demand for Apple’s ARM-powered device lineup; with Samsung and Apple continuing their legal spats, the plant may be re-purposed for the production of Samsung’s Exynos line of ARM SoCs should Apple continue with its moves away from Samsung as its main component supplier within the next few months and in time for the long expected release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 next Spring.
With Apple bound and determined to divert as much component business away from Samsung, the increasing rate at which it is doing so should be a cause for concern for Samsung, as the the volume generated by the iPhone and iPad still represents a significant amount of revenue for the conglomerate.
While the popularity of the Samsung Galaxy line around the world is enough to help it keep pace with its largest competitor, the sales volume of the Galaxy series overall is still not enough to sustain the SEMCO foundry, should Samsung be forced to repurpose the plant after Apple finishes its expected transition away from that foundry next year and leaving it in a tough spot, considering the plant itself is barely a year old and was the recipient of significant tax breaks provided by the state of Texas in order to base the plant in the state over other US locations.