updated 01:03 pm EST, Tue January 14, 2014
Switching away from subcontracting could improve production quality
TSMC will start producing fingerprint sensors for the next-generation iPhone in the second quarter, industry sources claim. The supplier will reportedly use a 65nm process at its 12-inch fab, and also bring backend wafer-level chip scale packaging in-house, instead of subcontracting it. In-house packaging is expected to improve production yields; trouble with manufacturing fingerprint sensors is often believed to be the reason the iPhone 5s shipped in such low numbers last September.
The Touch ID sensors for the iPhone 5s are made at TSMC's 8-inch fabs, with backend services outsourced to Xintec, China Wafer Level CSP, and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering. TSMC may switch a part of packaging orders for Qualcomm's chips to STATS ChipPAC due to restricted packaging capacity, the sources say.
TSMC is also allegedly set to work on application processors for Apple using a 20nm process. Processor production is forecast to ramp up "significantly" in the third quarter, which would coincide with when Apple normally launches new iPhones.