Apple has more than 1000 engineers working on processors
If you know, is there any merchant semi company building the standard ARM CPU and selling it? TI? others?
Is there anyone building a standard SoC ARM merchant product ? TI? Qualcomm? Marvell? -----
I may have misunderstood your questions. A simple way to view a SoC is that it contains the CPU, GPU, memory controllers and everything else that you would find on a typical PC mother board (network, usb controllers etc). Just like motherboard vendors for a PC, each SoC is different.
As such there is no standard 'ARM CPU' that you can buy that fits into a standard socket.
The problem I have with Apple's ARM processor is the same thing that happens with other smart phone manufactures. Apple claims to have a 1ghz CPU, which is true, but it's downclocked (throttled down) to a slower speed to prolong battery life.
I don't have a big problem with this other than the entire industry should come clean when they are doing this. When they list a CPU it should say (1ghz ARM A5 processor running at 800mhz).
Another seperate issue is that there seems to be some kind wall that has been hit with processor speed. I've heard that ARM will eventually come out with a 3ghz processor (interesting because that was the speed the PowerPC RISC processor was promised to hit, but didn't before Apple switched to Intel). I have a feeling that a phone with a faster CPU speed rating will smoke all the slower multi-core processors. I am curious as they reach for faster and faster processors if power consumption will take too much of a hit. Of course running on a thinner core will help, which is why that TSMC is trying to get down to 28nm. The first ones are supposed to be made this quarter which may be going to Apple for a prototype for the new iPhone5 coming out next year.
There are going to be two different issues. The first is having the refference CPU to build the SoC's around. The speed at which this has to be done is probably the reason why Apple has so many engineers working on this project. The second and larger issue is TSCM will have to supply the huge processor demand that will follow for this phone. That means consistent yields. I'll be curuios of this can all be worked out by next June.
I still think Apple should go with Intel for the iPhone 5. Intel's 22nm Atom will be out much sooner than TSMC will have their 28nm ARM processors ready. The extra six months to a year lead could add up to a lot of sales for Apple.