In light of all the recent legal drama between Apple and Samsung, it's rumored that the Cupertino-based tech giant could be in the search for someone else to manufacture the proprietary Ax SoCs found in its smartphones and tablets.
Tech analyst Amit Daryanani says that the steps need to overhaul the production and manufacturing process are numerous and complicated, and could take between a year and a year and a half, with products not becoming commercially available until 2014.
Two major players will most likely be in contention as replacements to Samsung, should Apple go that route: Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Both companies have expressed interest in the past to a potential partnership with Apple.
Daryanani says that Intel's case will be a harder sell, as it has moved beyond ARM architecture, which the iOS platform is heavily invested in.
TSMC could begin manufacturing chips for Apple as early as 2014, after it completes the transition to a 20nm production process. Capital expenditures are estimated anywhere from $1 - $3 billion, but an Apple co-investment is not out of the question.
Two other less likely scenarios exist, one which sees a merger with Global Foundries, and the other involves Apple creating its own chip fabrication plants. The latter would be an unprecedented move by Apple, who has always kept manufacturing out of house.