Broadcom to License ARM Architectures, Bringing Closer Ties to Apple?

An interesting addition to what we have already heard about the low-cost iPhone is Broadcom’s announcement that they are extending their relationship with ARM and license ARMv7 and ARMv8 architectures, which will enable Broadcom to develop and build their own processors based on the ARM structure.


“The ARMv7 architecture is the basis for all current 32-bit ARM Cortex™ processors, including the Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A9 processors. The ARMv8 architecture is the first ARM architecture that includes 64-bit execution, enabling processors based on the architecture to combine 64-bit execution with 32-bit execution. The ARMv8 architecture applies ARM’s heritage in energy-efficiency to 64-bit computing and extends the applicability of ARM processors into new application areas. Broadcom is one of the lead partners for the Cortex-A50 series of processors, the first implementation of the ARMv8 architecture, launched at the ARM TechCon in 2012, the press release informs.

As Patently Apple points out, the announcement is particularly relevant from the perspective of an earlier Bloomberg report saying Broadcom is the biggest link between the Cupertino company and TSMC, with the latter being Broadcom’s biggest supplier. As Richard Davenport, Bloomberg’s supply chain analyst highlights, “Broadcom appears to be a likely candidate for Taiwan Semiconductor’s rush orders”.

You may recall that Apple assigned TSMC with manufacturing 28 nm A6X processors, and this once again reinforces earlier rumors about the Apple and Samsung “separation”. From this perspective, Broadcom could become a secondary supplier just in case TSMC can’t meet future demand for ARM processors.

And considering that earlier rumours of the low-cost iPhone seem to be gaining traction and have their basis in truth, finding a reliable (secondary?) supplier for the cheaper device’s ARM processors is likely to be one of Apple’s top priorities.

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