The Apple Watch: Powered by Samsung…Wait, What?

The Apple Watch, which will undoubtedly be renamed the iWatch by the time of its planned release later this year, will be powered by a Samsung processor. At least, that’s the latest chatter surrounding the much-anticipated device, chatter fueled by (likely very reliable) supply chain rumors.

Back Together Again for the Very First Time

Odd though it seems—Apple is the type of company that I would assume absolutely insists on doing everything in-house—Samsung was actually Apple’s original processor provider for the iPhone and iPad. Apple later switched allegiances to TSMC, as they were, at the time, able to produce smaller chips using a 20-nanometer manufacturing process. A smaller manufacturing process equals smaller chips that consume less energy. (The smaller the number, the smaller the process.)

Hmm... does it come in green?

Hmm… does it come in green?

Now, Apple and Samsung are getting the band back together. The Apple Watch, which will, of course, integrate closely with the iPhone, will be powered by a Samsung chip built using a 28-nanometer manufacturing process. Rumor has it that Apple has a standing order for 3,000-4,000 12-inch wafers each month.

Each of those wafers can supply several hundred processor chips. There are no official reports as to how many of the (guaranteed to be) overpriced, initially underperforming Apple Watches Apple expects to sell in the first year, but some analysts have suggested that 10 million units is not unreasonable. Given the sheer number of people who slavishly buy every iteration of every stupid gizmo the company poops out, it’s not surprising that Apple is already banking on the device’s success.

Why Go Back to Samsung?

Many are questioning why Apple has chosen to use a 28-nanometer Samsung chip instead of the smaller and more efficient 20-nanometer TSMC chip. The most likely answer is price—because why sell a stupid, $350 (for the basic model) smart watch if you can’t milk that sucker for every single penny customers are willing to shell out?

A second theory is that TSMC simply doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity to supply all the chips needed for iPhones, iPads, and the soon-to-be iWatch. This also makes a lot of sense, because the former two devices still sell like hotcakes, and the latter will likely outsell them both when it drops.

Whatever the case, the company might as well be printing money. All the Apple sheep out there will gladly help grease the gears of their printing presses.

Photo credit: Dustpuppy72 / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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