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There's no love lost between Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Samsung these days. The two international tech stars used to be partners, tighter than David Hasselhoff's leather pants. But now that they're the two largest purveyors of smartphones on a global level -- head-to-head competitors of the highest order -- the cozy relationship is falling apart.
Rumor has it that Apple is getting ready to punt Sammy as manufacturer of Apple's home-designed mobile processors. Citigroup Global Markets, which is Citi's international research division, believes that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (NYSE: TSM ) will start shouldering that workload over the next couple of years.
In particular, Citi sees TSMC handling quad-core processors on an advanced manufacturing platform. These chips would be suitable for future iPads, the long-rumored iTV, and maybe even some MacBooks. iPhones and iPods would still run on less advanced technologies with lower power consumption, and Samsung might still get to manufacture some or all of those. Maybe.
These quad-core chips may have been in the works since Apple acquired Intrincity back in 2010. That firm has a track record of working on multi-core processors in the ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) family. Add in the fact that TSMC makes advanced ARM-based chips on behalf of QUALCOMM (Nasdaq: QCOM ) and NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) , and the puzzle pieces fall into place.
Yes, this is just an educated analyst guess at this point, but I'd be surprised if it didn't happen.
Apple has about a billion reasons to give Samsung the cold shoulder nowadays, and TSMC is a world-leading provider of chip-building services. So maybe this new partnership takes a year to really heat up, but there's almost certainly some fresh Cupertino business coming TSMC's way.
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