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Wednesday, December 19, 2012, 05:16 am PT (08:16 am ET)

Mysterious 'Project Azalea' believed to be codename for Apple's US-based chip production partner

New York, California, Texas and Oregon are all said to be competing to become home to a major semiconductor manufacturer said to have ties with Apple and production of chips for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The latest details on the project were published this week by The Oregonian, which was able to confirm that the state's economic development agency has been recruiting an unnamed company that is identified only as "Azalea." Further details on the project are unknown, as officials have signed a nondisclosure agreement.

But officials in New York have also reportedly been pursuing their own "Project Azalea," suggesting the two states are competing for the mystery project. Last week, it was revealed that New York state economic development officials have been pitched plans for a 3.2-million-square-foot chip manufacturing factory believed to be for producing components for Apple's iPhone and iPad.

A6 chip


Also believed to be in the running for "Project Azalea" are California and Texas. Those two states have been considered by consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu for the company behind Azalea, according to EE Times.

Numerous reports have now pegged Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as the likely company behind Project Azalea. TSMC has been rumored to take over mobile chip production for Apple's iPhone and iPad, pushing out the company's current supplier, Samsung.

Samsung now builds Apple's custom processors, like the A6 found in the iPhone 5 and A6X that powers the fourth-generation iPad, at a chip manufacturing plant in Austin, Tex. But Samsung is also Apple's chief rival, and fierce competition along with dozens of patent infringement lawsuits have driven a wedge between the two companies.

The prospect of Apple chips being produced in Oregon is also noteworthy because Apple is already committed to the state with a data center in Prineville. Construction on one of the center's two massive 338,000-square-foot buildings began in October.