Apple is well-known for manufacturing iPhones, iPods, iPads, and Macintosh computers overseas at manufacturers like Foxconn, and sourcing its components in bulk from a variety of manufacturers. But a new report from Reuters finds Apple is now starting to get the A5 microprocessor brains used in its iPad 2 and iPhone 4S from a new 1.6 million square foot facility in Texas. And that’s not the only surprise: the factory is owned by Samsung.
According to Reuters, the facility cost some $3.6 billion to build, and while the facility also produces flash memory, the plant was recently expanded to manufacture logic chips — and almost all the logic chip production is for Apple’s A5 processor.
The move is interesting since it reflects a deepening of ties between Apple and Samsung at the same time the companies are engaged in a range of patent infringement and copyright lawsuits against each other around the world. Many of the suits center on Samsung’s Android-powered Galaxy Tab tablets and Galaxy smartphones, which Apple has accused of “slavishly” copying its designs.
Historically, Apple has been one of Samsung’s biggest customers. Reports earlier this year had Apple committing to buy nearly $8 billion in components from Samsung and testing new processor manufacturing with Taiwan’s TMSC. Just this week, new reports surfaced of Apple looking to purchase Israel-based flash memory maker Anobit, although that deal likely has more to do with flash memory technology than manufacturing capacity.
Samsung couldn’t be reached for comment. Apple declined to comment, save to note the company does not disclose information on its suppliers.