About 75 percent of future Apple iPhones and iPads will use chips from rival Samsung, though at least one other supplier will also provide chips for the devices, according to a Jan. 26 report from Reuters.
The report cited a story from South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper, which said that unidentified sources in the semiconductor industry confirmed that Samsung chips would dominate iPhone and iPad production for the next versions of the devices. “The newspaper did not say how much the contract is worth and what other company will be supplying Apple,” reported Reuters. “Samsung will make the chips from its factory in Austin, Texas, according to the report.”
A Samsung spokeswoman told Reuters that the company “does not comment on market speculation.”
The relationship between Apple and Samsung has been tense at times due to past battles over patents, making the issue of chip use in Apple devices interesting in the last few years.
In January 2013, reports began surfacing that Apple was beginning to use chips from other chip makers due to the then ongoing patent battles between the two companies. Apple had continued to use Samsung ARM-based chips even as the rivals had been fighting each other for months over patent-infringement claims.
The legal fight between Apple and Samsung at the time was knuckle-busting for both. In August 2012, Apple won a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung from a California court over allegations that Samsung infringed on Apple patents in the designs of mobile devices. Those patent wars prompted Apple to reduce its dependency on Samsung for chips.
Apple has used Samsung chips only in its iPhones and iPads, not in its desktop and laptop products.
Samsung and Apple aren’t the only companies making headlines over chips in smartphones recently.
Earlier this month, reports began circulating that the next version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy S smartphone will be equipped with the company’s own processor, instead of a version built by Qualcomm due to overheating issues that arose during tests with its chips. The report from Bloomberg cited anonymous sources who have knowledge of the testing and problems that allegedly arose, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
That report involved Samsung’s testing of a new version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, known as the 810, according to the report. Instead of using the Qualcomm chip, the next Galaxy S phone will be running Samsung’s own chip, which is a big change for both parties.
In November 2014, Qualcomm announced the availability of its newest 64-bit ARM-based Snapdragon 810 Ultra HD processors to developers for testing and analysis before they would be put into new devices, according to an eWEEK report at the time. Qualcomm, the top chip maker for mobile devices, began rolling out early development platforms for the system-on-a-chip (SoC) in the form of a 6.2-inch smartphone and a 10.1-inch tablet. Hardware and software makers were then able to leverage the devices to help them develop, test and optimize their device designs and Android applications before putting their commercial products on store shelves.
The move comes as mobile chip makers are looking to take advantage of ARM’s 64-bit ARMv8-A architecture for their smartphones and tablets. Apple last year jumped ahead of everyone when it unveiled the 64-bit A7 chip—based on ARM’s new architecture—in the new (at the time) iPhone 5S smartphone. Samsung reportedly also is putting the 64-bit architecture into its Exynos 5433/Exynos 7 Octa.
The development smartphone and tablet are based on the eight-core Snapdragon 810, Qualcomm’s Adreno 430 graphics technology and the company’s latest Hexagon digital signal processor (DSP). The Snapdragon 810 leverages ARM’s big.Little architecture, which uses a combination of high-performance and low-power cores—in this case four 64-bit Cortex-A57 cores and four more Cortex-A53 cores—that can offer users performance or power efficiency, depending on the workload.