Samsung Electronics has begun production of the A9 processor, the next generation ARM-based CPU for Apple's iPhone and iPad, according to the Korean IT Times.
This processor uses 14nm FinFET manufacturing, a cutting-edge design for semiconductors that many other manufacturers, including AMD, IBM and TSMC, are adopting. It uses a new silicon substrate to reduce leakages, which means less power lost and less heat.
Korea IT Times says Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production in Austin, Texas and Giheung, Korea, but production is only taking place in Austin as it is in the initial stage. Samsung invested $3.9 billion in that plant specifically to make chips for Apple. So now Apple can say its CPU is "Made in America."
Samsung Electronics had planned to begin production of 14nm FinFET chips at the end of this year, but had not said who the company would be. According to the Times, samples are as good as finished products in this early stage.
Because of the legal issues between Apple and Samsung, Apple stopped manufacturing its chips with Samsung in 2012 and took its business to TSMC. TSMC is said to be a little bit behind Samsung in FinFET manufacturing, and perhaps cooler heads have prevailed at the two companies and they made up.
That doesn't mean TSMC will let Apple walk. Apple may have both TSMC and Samsung make its chips, which would be like dating two people at the same time. That never ends well.
The real question is why is Apple starting chip manufacturing so soon? The iPhone 6 has only been on the market a few months, and chip production for its successor has started already? There haven't been any rumors on the A9 since the A8 is so new.
The only thing I can think of is that Apple wants to work the bugs out of the manufacturing process, since FinFET is so new. New manufacturing processes usually mean really low yields in the beginning until the chip maker gets it right, and since FinFET is so new, Apple and Samsung may have wanted to get a jump on things.
Either way, if the two have made peace, it's yet another sign of the new day at Apple under Tim Cook.