Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 30th Jan 2018 23:35 UTC

For several years, Apple has been steadily designing more and more of the chips powering its iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches. This creates a better user experience and helps trump rivals. Recently the company got a fresh incentive to go all-in on silicon: revelations that microprocessors with components designed by Intel Corp., Arm Holdings Plc and Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. are vulnerable to hacking.


That original “system-on-a-chip” has since been succeeded by increasingly powerful processors. Today, Apple packs its devices with custom components that process artificial intelligence tasks, track your steps, power game graphics, secure Face ID or Touch ID data, run the Apple Watch, pair AirPods to your phone and help make Macs work the way they do. The result: a chip powerhouse that could one day threaten the dominance of Qualcomm Inc. and even, eventually, Intel.

Apple's chip business really puts the company in a unique position. No other phone or PC maker can rely on such a powerful chip division, with the exception of Samsung, but Samsung's own ARM chips are nowhere near as powerful as Apple's. Assuming Apple manages to turn their chip prowess into real-world advantages for users, it'll be hard for competitors to catch up.

Thread beginning with comment 653363
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Member since:

Designing a chip is just a very small part of the overall production process. In this case Apple are modifying an existing ARM design.

The vast bulk of the engineering work is actually getting the design from the drawing board into mass production. That is where Samsung's expertise comes into play.

Reply Parent Score: 2

viton Member since:

In this case Apple are modifying an existing ARM design.

Which one?
LOL you have zero understanding of this.
Did you know, Ferrari are modifying bicycles to make it's supercars.

That factory receives is a giant geometry file.
They have to validate it, build mask set and produce wafers.
This is not a "vast bulk of engineering work".

That is where Samsung's expertise comes into play

Right, but wait... A11 is made by TSMC.

Reply Parent Score: 1

unclefester Member since:

The A11 is an ARM reference design modified by Apple.

There is a huge amount of work to convert a mask to a finished chip. TSMC engineers and technicians would be providing many thousands of hours of work to refine the design and deliver a finished product.

Reply Parent Score: 2

galvanash Member since:

The vast bulk of the engineering work is actually getting the design from the drawing board into mass production. That is where Samsung's expertise comes into play.

Here is the problem with your fantasy view of how this process works...

Samsung does NOT fabricate the A11 - TSMC does. Samsung literally has nothing whatsoever to do with it. At all. Not a f*cking thing. Not sure how Samsung would be able to help them with their "expertise" when they don't even participate in building the chip...

They also had nothing to do with the A10 either. Samsung hasn't been involved with the fabrication of Apple CPUs since the A9 (iPhone 6s), and even then that CPU was fabricated by BOTH Samsung and TSMC. Samsung has NEVER designed a CPU in any Apple device. Not a single one. The CPUs before the A6 where used cookie cutter ARM cores - Samsung just fabbed them (like they still occasionally do)... There has never been a Samsung desgined CPU in an Apple device. Hell, Samsung rarely uses their own designs in THEIR phones (they almost always use Qualcomm designs in their US phones)

Your argument is that the vast majority of the work is getting from the drawing board to mass production. This is absolutely true, but the fab has virtually nothing to do with that part of the process. There are many fabs out there than can do mass production, but getting from the drawing board to the point that you can submit a mask for production is entirely up to the design team. They target the particular process used by the Fab to a degree, but with modern designs this is become less and less of an issue (hence why 2 entirely different companies could produce the A9 with little to no differences between them).

Look, I don't much care about you deriding Apple's engineering abilities - have fun in your delusion... However, if your going to do so at least try to sound like you have a clue what you are talking about.

tldr; Apple designs some good CPUs. They have one of the best ARM CPU design teams on earth. This is simply just fact, that you chose to give other's credit for it is your own personal prerogative - it doesn't reflect reality at all. You are just making yourself sound stupid by trying to tear them down without a shred of facts or knowledge to back any of it up...

Edited 2018-02-01 03:14 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3