Saturday, September 5, 2015

iPhone A9 Chip Steal From TSMC Key Trade Secrets

Did you know the recent news about iPhone A9 chip steal situation, that was revealed recently. Due to reports the highest court in Taiwan gave its final decision in a case where TSMC alleged that one of its ex-employees had leaked its key trade secrets to Samsung.

The accused, former senior director of R&D at TSMC, Liang Mong-Song, after quitting TSMC in 2011 became a professor at a “Samsung-sponsored” university in South Korea. His students mostly comprised of veteran Samsung employees who were all taught about key trade secrets of TSMC primarily relating to its FinFET process.

The report makes no mention of Apple, but the connection couldn’t be clearer. These iPhone A9 chip TSMC key trade secrets helped Samsung in becoming the first foundry to mass produce 14/16nm FinFET based APs (Application Processors), which ultimately led Apple to award it with the majority of the contract to produce A9 chips slated to be utilized in the upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Considering the fact that TSMC potentially lost millions of dollars in revenue and profits, the court was expected to heavily fine Samsung and Liang for this. Although, the punishment served by the court is absolutely not strict. The only punishment that has been confirmed is the prohibition to Liang from working with Samsung in any way until December 31, 2015.

Let's make some conclusions about iPhone A9 chip steal case. For robbing TSMC of potentially millions of dollars by leaking their trade secrets to Samsung, Liang has only been prohibited to work with Samsung for four months.

An analysis conducted by third-party experts regarding key manufacturing processes has defined that starting with 45nm to 28nm processes, the difference between Samsung’s and TSMC’s technologies narrowed.

Conflicting reports make it harder to determine the exact percentage of total A9 chip production between Samsung and TSMC. What’s clear is that both companies will fab the A9 chips for Apple’s next-generation iPhones and iPads on the 14-nanometer FinFET process.


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