As you may know, Samsung used to manufacture Apple’s Ax series of processors (or SoC) but given the strained relationship between the two companies, Apple has been reportedly shopping around to diversify its manufacturing capability. It’s not the first time that Intel has been mentioned as being such a potential partner, and given that it has excellent “fabs” (chip-building plants) it would make sense that Apple talks to them, although Intel is not really known to be a “contract manufacturer” (build chip for others), and usually companies like TSCM, and UMC take on these manufacturing jobs for companies like Qualcomm, Marvell, NVIDIA, etc… It’s typically a low-margin business that Intel is not really interested by.
The latest rumor mention Intel taking on 10% of the manufacturing of an upcoming Apple A7 processor, at least according to Taiwan’s Digitimes. This is a rumor that I would take with a lot of caution, since 10% seems to be a relatively small volume, and if you take into account that the Apple A7 engineering team would to work pretty hard just to make the chip design compatible with a new manufacturing process, we would be talking about having one “physical design” (chips layout change for each manufacturing partners) for Samsung, one for TSMC, and another one for Intel. This seems like a lot of work for 10% of the volume, but Apple could probably “afford it”, if they had enough man power. Yet, I’m not really buying it because unless Apple wants to use Intel’s latest manufacturing process, they can find partners who will get the job done for less elsewhere.
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