Apple's long term partnership with Samsung may be slowly disintegrating as both former partners are increasingly delivering products - like the Galaxy Tab and the iPad 2 - that compete with each other making the relationship quite uneasy.
Arstechnica mentions (opens in new tab) a "plugged-in source" who confirmed that Apple is indeed considering a TSMC partnership rather than an Intel one, with the Taiwanese foundry providing Apple with its best manufacturing plants yet, the 28nm ones, that may well deliver their first 3D chips by the end of the year.
Samsung produced the system on chip for the iPad, the iPhone 4, the Apple TV, the iPod Touch and a number of other Apple devices as well (ed: indeed, Samsung may well be Apple's biggest provider of semiconductors).
The relationship between Apple and Samsung has become very bitter after Apple launched a legal assault against Samsung, accusing the Korean manufacturer of allegedly copying the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad for its Galaxy range of smartphones and tablets.
In order to match rival system-on-chips that are expected to come towards the end of 2011, Apple is likely to double the number of cores on the A6 to four while keeping the clock speed constant.
Moving to the 28nm 2D manufacturing process and then to a 22nm 3D one may provide Apple with an unassailable advantage over its competitors, especially if Apple buys long term manufacturing capacity from TSMC in bulk.