Analyst: This Chip Maker Is Building a U.S.-Based Fab to Supply Apple

MicrochipIs Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (NYSE:TSM) about to replace Samsung (SSNLF.PK) as the primary chip provider for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile devices? According to a note to investors from Piper Jaffray analyst Jagadish Iyer via Apple Insider, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s recent hiring recruitment effort in the Fishkill, N.Y. area might be an indication that the chip maker is preparing to open a local fabrication plant that will supply Apple.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple signed a deal last month with TSMC for the company to begin making some of its iPhone and iPad chips in 2014. Apple had discussed using TSMC as a chip supplier as early as 2010, but the Taiwan-based manufacturer has apparently had difficulties in meeting Apple’s stringent chip specifications.

“With Apple’s supply chain for processors shifting to TSMC from Samsung, we believe Apple could better monitor its supply chain while de-risking itself. Though press reports have surfaced recently on Apple trying to secure a wafer fab, our checks do indicate that Apple has been hiring a number of process technologists in chip manufacturing,” wrote the analyst via Apple Insider.

Apple’s rumored attempt to “secure a wafer fab” appears to be a reference to the SemiAccurate report, which stated that the Cupertino-based company was considering a partnership with the California-based chipmaker Globalfoundries. However, Iyer believes that Apple is instead helping TSMC build a U.S.-based plant that will allow the iPhone maker to closely monitor the manufacturing of its own chips.

Currently, Apple outsources the majority of its chip manufacturing to Samsung, which makes Apple’s A6 chips at its fab in Austin, Texas. However, Apple’s long-running deal with Samsung may expire by the end of 2014, according to a recent Korea Times report.

Apple has reportedly been trying to reduce its dependence on Samsung for components, ever since the Korea-based company became one of Apple’s biggest rivals in the smartphone market. Here’s how Apple and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company have traded so far today.


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