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.
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Cirrus creates Lightning-headphone dev kit
Apple supplier Cirrus Logic has introduced a MFi-compliant new development kit for companies interested in using Cirrus' chips to create Lightning-based headphones, which -- regardless of whether rumors about Apple dropping the analog headphone jack in its iPhone this fall -- can offer advantages to music-loving iOS device users. The kit mentions some of the advantages of an all-digital headset or headphone connector, including higher-bitrate support, a more customizable experience, and support for power and data transfer into headphone hardware. Several companies already make Lightning headphones, and Apple has supported the concept since June 2014. http://bit.ly/29giiZj
Apple Store app offers Procreate Pocket
The Apple Store app for iPhone, which periodically rewards users with free app gifts, is now offering the iPhone "Pocket" version of drawing app Procreate for those who have the free Apple Store app until July 28. Users who have redeemed the offer by navigating to the "Stores" tab of the app and swiping past the "iPhone Upgrade Program" banner to the "Procreate" banner have noted that only the limited Pocket (iPhone) version of the app is available free, even if the Apple Store app is installed and the offer redeemed on an iPad. The Pocket version currently sells for $3 on the iOS App Store. [32.4MB]
Porsche adds CarPlay to 2017 Panamera
Porsche has added a fifth model of vehicle to its CarPlay-supported lineup, announcing that the 2017 Panamera -- which will arrive in the US in January -- will include Apple's infotainment technology, and be seen on a giant 12.3-inch touchscreen as part of an all-new Porsche Communication Management system. The luxury sedan starts at $99,900 for the 4S model, and scales up to the Panamera Turbo, which sells for $146,900. Other vehicles that currently support CarPlay include the 2016 911 and the 2017 models of Macan, 718 Boxster, and 718 Cayman. The company did not mention support for Google's corresponding Android Auto in its announcement. http://bit.ly/295ZQ94
Apple employees testing wheelchair features
New features included in the forthcoming watchOS 3 are being tested by Apple retail store employees, including a new activity-tracking feature that has been designed with wheelchair users in mind. The move is slightly unusual in that, while retail employees have previously been used to test pre-release versions of OS X and iOS, this marks the first time they've been included in the otherwise developer-only watchOS betas. The company is said to have gone to great lengths to modify the activity tracker for wheelchair users, including changing the "time to stand" notification to "time to roll" and including two wheelchair-centric workout apps. http://bit.ly/2955JDa
SanDisk reveals two 256GB microSDXC cards
SanDisk has introduced two 256GB microSDXC cards. Arriving in August for $150, the Ultra microSDXC UHS-I Premium Edition card offers transfer speeds of up to 95MB/s for reading data. The Extreme microSDXC UHS-I card can read at a fast 100MB/s and write at up to 90MB/s, and will be shipping sometime in the fourth quarter for $200. http://bit.ly/294Q1If
Apple's third-quarter results due July 26
Apple has advised it will be issuing its third-quarter results on July 26, with a conference call to answer investor and analyst queries about the earnings set to take place later that day. The stream of the call will go live at 2pm PT (5pm ET) via Apple's investor site, with the results themselves expected to be released roughly 30 minutes before the call commences. Apple's guidance for the quarter put revenue at between $41 billion and $43 billion. http://apple.co/1oi1Pbm
Twitter stickers slowly roll out to users
Twitter has introduced "stickers," allowing users to add extra graphical elements to their photos before uploading them to the micro-blogging service. A library of hundreds of accessories, props, and emoji will be available to use as stickers, which can be resized, rotated, and placed anywhere on the photograph. Images with stickers will also become searchable with viewers able to select a sticker to see how others use the same graphic in their own posts. Twitter advises stickers will be rolling out to users over the next few weeks, and will work on both the mobile apps and through the browser. http://bit.ly/29bbwUE