Tag - TSMC
One of Apple's hardware suppliers has been congratulated by a company executive for improving its environmental credentials. Linking to a press release on Twitter, Apple vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives Lisa Jackson commented on TSMC's progress, calling the chip producer's increased purchase of "green power" for 2016 to 200 million kilowatt hours (kWh) a "big step in green manufacturing."
Taiwanese chip maker TSMC has announced that it will moving to mass production of mobile chips using a 7nm manufacturing process in the first half of 2018, beating Intel to the node. As a current supplier of Apple's A9 and A9X chips the news could provide an insight into the type of technology that may appear in a future iPhone. If Apple maintains TSMC as a chip fabricator for its A-series chips, it could point to a potential Apple A12 chip powering a late 2018 iPhone using 7nm lithography.
TSMC is working with ARM to produce a FinFET process for the creation of 7nm chips, processors that could end up inside future iOS devices. Following on from earlier work for 16nm and 10nm FinFET processes, the manufacturer and chip designer will collaborate on the new thinner processor mass production methods, which aim to create lower-powered, higher-performance System-on-Chips (SoC) for use in devices within a few years.
TSMC is increasing its production of 12-inch wafers used to manufacture 16-nanometer chips, in order to cope with major upcoming chip orders, according to reports. Seemingly in preparation for higher production rates for the "A10" processor, a chip believed to be used in the next generation of iOS devices, the company is aiming to produce 80,000 of the wafers by the end of this month, double the 40,000 output it achieved in February.
A chip fabricator that produces some of the processors used in the iPhone 6s has warned its production capacity has been impacted by a recent earthquake by a larger margin than it had first believed. TSMC has advised that its initial estimates of a 1 percent loss of first quarter wafer shipments from the February 6 magnitude-6.4 earthquake in Taiwan may have been optimistic, due to a higher than anticipated amount of damage to some of its facilities.
Apple may be dropping Samsung as one of its processor manufacturers for the next version of the iPhone, according to a report. Rather than split the manufacturing of the "A10" chips between two semiconductor fabricators, a South Korean newspaper claims Apple will not be using Samsung, with TSMC apparently becoming the sole company responsible for producing the processor destined for use in Apple's future smartphone.
TSMC is planning to construct a new processor manufacturing facility in China, one that is estimated to be worth around $3 billion to construct. At the same time, rumors are circulating that TSMC may end up having a considerable order from Apple in the near future, with a report suggesting Apple may simply hand complete control of its processor manufacturing over to TSMC, starting from the A10 processor expected to ship next year in a future iPhone.
Apple's powerful A9X processor is much larger in size than its predecessor, the A9, according to analysis performed by Chipworks. Used in the iPad Pro, it is claimed the A9X chip measures approximately 147 square millimeters in size, physically bigger than the TSMC-produced A9 used in the iPhone 6s by around 40 percent, with the sheer size and increase in transistors likely to make the A9X more difficult to produce as well as raising the manufacturing cost.
Apple has opted to comment on unscientific and unrealistic test results floating around that purport to show serious differences between iPhone 6s model phones using chips made by Samsung versus those made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Apple, which uses both companies to make its A9 processor that powers both the 6s and 6s Plus, says that there is very little real-world difference between the two chips, which are slightly different sizes depending on manufacturer.
The incredible popularity of Apple's iPhones means that it often has to diversify its supplier base in order to ensure that it has enough components to fulfill tens of millions of orders. For example, Apple might employ one or more display suppliers to deliver enough panels. In most cases, this will typically go unnoticed by users, even if there are inevitably minor differences in performance. Intriguingly, Chipworks has subjected some iPhone 6s models to its yearly teardown of Apple's iPhone SoC package, and determined that not only is the A9 fabricated by two suppliers (TSMC and Samsung), but that Samsung's more advanced fab process has yielded an A9 chip that is 10 percent smaller than the TSMC-fabbed A9. Based on some preliminary testing that MacNN has conducted, there is some evidence that this results in a slight performance differential between the two.