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After years of rumors, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. is said to finally begin trial production of A6X chips for Apple's fourth-generation iPad this quarter, further marginalizing Samsung's role in Apple's supply chain.
TSMC has been contracted to manufacture the A6X chip found in the latest iPad, according to Taiwan's Commercial Times, via French news agency AFP. A report published on Wednesday said trial production of the mobile chips will begin in the first quarter of the year.
Apple has long been rumored to be interested in switching its mobile chip manufacturing from Samsung to TSMC. The iPad maker, which was once Samsung's biggest customer, has been looking to remove Samsung from its supply chain as the two companies are engaged in a number of patent infringement lawsuits around the world.
With the latest rumor pegging TSMC's deal as only for trial production of the A6X, it's still unclear exactly when TSMC-produced chips could begin appearing in Apple's iOS devices. Currently, all of the mobile processors used in the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV are built by Samsung at its chip fabrication plant in Austin, Tex.
Switching its chip manufacturing from Samsung to TSMC is expected to be a complex transition that could take Apple as long as 18 months to complete.
Rumors that surfaced last month pegged TSMC has the most likely company behind a mysterious "Project Azalea" that numerous states are competing to win. The secretive project involves an unnamed semiconductor manufacturing company considering a new chip fabrication plant in four potential states: New York, California, Texas and Oregon.
The chip manufacturer behind the "Azalea" project is said to have ties to Apple, which has led numerous reports to suggest TSMC as the most likely company behind the mystery project. The states bidding for the contract have signed nondisclosure agreements, making the company unknown.