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Apple reportedly reduces Samsung's role in A6 chip production, decreases dependency on its biggest rival

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Apple A5 stock press
Apple A5 stock press

Despite a bitter rivalry in the consumer space and ongoing legal battles, Samsung has been a key partner for Apple for manufacturing the internals in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — particularly the Ax "system on a chip" processors at the heart of these devices. According to The Korea Times, Apple will be scaling back that relationship going forward — an unnamed Samsung official said that "Samsung's agreement with Apple is limited to manufacturing the A6 processors. Apple did all the design and we are just producing the chips on a foundry basis." The same official noted that Samsung typically has three types of chip clients: some have Samsung handle all design, architecture, and manufaucturing; some have Samsung handle just design and manufacturing; and a last group simply have the company produce the chips. With the A6 processor found in the new iPhone 5, "Apple is now the third type" of customer.

While these statements imply that Samsung was previously involved in the design of the A4 and A5 chips, Apple has always been quite cagey about the creation of its processors and has implied in the past that it was the main designer behind them. Regardless, it looks like this is the next step in Apple reducing its reliance on Samsung for manufacturing its iconic portable devices. We heard back in June of 2011 that Apple was potentially considering Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company for the A6 — while that didn't come to pass, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to see someone else manufacture the inevitable A7 chip. More recently, we heard that Apple was diversifying its sourcing portfolio for critical components like RAM and flash memory chips for the iPhone 5, though that change wasn't the result of the legal battles between the two companies. According to Reuters, it was to ensure that Apple would have enough components to meet the demand for its newest handset.