But Brook Crothers at CNET says a "semiconductor industry source" says that the deal which is far from finalized may involve Globalfoundries, of Milpitas, Calif. The foundry and Apple are "kicking the tires" but " by no means' is any firm deal imminent...," writes Crothers.
"The source continued: Globalfoundries and Samsung have the same technology foundation based on an IBM joint development agreement. So that gives [a possible deal] a little less risk if they're looking at a secondary option to offset [the current chip manufacturing] with Samsung.'"
But Apple has several options for "investing" in a chip plant (Globalfoundries has a relatively new plant in New York with "a lot of idle capacity," according to CNET's source). Here's Crothers: "Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group, doesn't see Apple owning capacity, however. I don't see why Apple would buy a fab, but they might front some money to Globalfoundries to guarantee access,' he told CNET."
Another option is for Apple to invest in chip processes rather than physical manufacturing assets. "Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks it makes more sense for the company to focus its efforts on developing chip processes instead of owning and operating a full-fledged factory," writes Evan Niu, a contributor at TheFool.com. (Niu owns Apple stock.) His post is headlined "Did Apple Buy Its Own Chip Plant or Not? The answer, apparently, is "no one knows."
Longstanding rumors have pegged Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. as Apple's most likely chipmaking partner. Just last month, The Wall Street Journal reported that after years of talks, Apple had finally inked a deal with TSMC to build mobile chips beginning in 2014.
Apple is spending yearly about as much if not more than Intel on capital, or almost as much as Microsoft, Amazon and Google combined. For Fiscal Year 2013 alone, Apple will spend just over $10 billion. Much of this spending is to buy equipment that is placed in the manufacturing and assembly plants of its supply chain partners. But apart from Asymoc's Horace Dediu, this whole area of spending and intent is getting almost no attention from analysts and media.