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As Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC gets set to ramp up production on its 20-nanometer process fab in January, some analysts believe the company is poised to take a large bite out of rival Samsung's supply contract for Apple's A-series processors.
TSMC's 12-inch wafer fab
Speaking at TSMC's annual supply chain forum, CEO Mark Liu called the 20-nanometer rollout "the most critical ramp-up TSMC has carried out in years," according to a report from the Taipei Times. Liu went on to predict a double-digit revenue bump from the new process, a prediction that could be due in part to a pending large-scale order from Apple.
Industry analyst Randy Abrams of Credit Suisse believes the Cupertino, Calif.-based company will account for 6.5 percent of TSMC's revenue in 2014, while fellow fab watcher Eric Chen of Daiwa Capital Markets puts the number at 10 percent. TSMC booked $5.53 billion in the third quarter of 2013, a new record for the company.
In addition to the 20-nanometer ramp-up, TSMC is in the midst of rolling out a new 16-nanometer fab, which Liu says could start mass production as soon as next year.
Rumors connecting Apple to TSMC began flying in earnest last October, as tensions between Apple and current fab partner Samsung rose on the back of the companies' epic worldwide legal battle over Samsung's copying of the iPhone. TSMC was first linked to the A6X, then the A7, and most recently the so-called "A8," believed to be the next in Apple's A-series processor line.
In June, the Wall Street Journal reported that a deal between Apple and TSMC had indeed been signed and that production would shift away from Samsung beginning in 2014.