Rumor: TSMC to build quad-core 20nm chips for Apple by late 2013

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple's future iOS devices may be powered by custom chips built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., taking a key component away from rival Samsung, according to a new rumor.

The details come from research fellow J.T. Hsu of Citigroup Global Markets, who was quoted in a report published on Friday by Taiwan Economic News (via MacRumors). Hsu claimed that the 20-nanometer quad-core chips are most likely to show up in a future iPad, the rumored Apple television, or even a MacBook computer.

However, Hsu indicated that future iPhones are expected to continue to feature dual-core processors, due to power consumption issues.

"Apple began verifying TSMC's 20nm process in August this year and may begin risk production in November with the process," the report said. "Volume production is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, raising the possibility that TSMC will hike capital expenditure to US$11-12 billion in 2013 and 2014."

Reports have linked Apple to TSMC for over a year now, but the company still relies on Samsung as its sole supplier of custom chips found in the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV. As such, a move to TSMC as Apple's sole supplier for a future chip would represent a major shakeup in Apple's supply chain.

A6


Friday's report claimed that TSMC has "unmatched" technological advancements in the 20-nanometer mobile chip space. As a result, Apple is said to have chosen TSMC's 20-nanometer process for its future products, presumably starting with a fifth-generation iPad in early 2014 based on Apple's current product release schedule.

The first indication came earlier this year that TSMC apparently hoped to land orders for 20-nanometer chips from Apple as soon as 2014. But Friday's report suggests those orders could come even earlier, by the end of next year.

One rumor that surfaced in August claimed that Apple made an offer for around $1 billion that would have made TSMC a dedicated chip producer to Apple alone. The offer was allegedly rejected by TSMC, as the company was said to be interested in staying involved in the booming broader smartphone market.

The new iPhone 5 features an A6 processor built by Apple that is a dual-core design. The chip also features two graphics processing unit cores and a full gigabyte of RAM.

Friday's latest rumor comes on the heels of news this week that Apple has hired a noted engineer of both desktop and mobile processors away from rival Samsung. Apple began designing its own mobile chips starting with the A4 in the first-generation iPad in 2010.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 66
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,552member


    I would LOVE to own an iPhone knowing that its CPU design comes from Apple. Just buy Sharp and some radio chip company and most components will be made in-house.

     

  • Reply 2 of 66
    how late?

    Late like in August Late? Like in 'Fall Announcement date' Late? or December and 'February 2014 Announcement Late?'

    The physics is pretty amazing. 20nm is pretty darn small for large scale production runs... we're getting down to the quantum tunneling levels (~15nm), thus approaching the end of Moore's Law at the single core level. Will quality rates erode? Will Shroedinger's Cat Youtube Videos be both alive and dead on an Iphone at the same time?
  • Reply 3 of 66
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,110member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post


    I would LOVE to own an iPhone knowing that its CPU design comes from Apple. Just buy Sharp and some radio chip company and most components will be made in-house.

     





    My understanding is that Apple does do all the designs for their mobile CPU's.  They do license from ARM but they still tweak them to their needs.



    I would prefer that Apple move the fabrication of their chips away from Samsung.

  • Reply 4 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post



    how late?

    Late like in August Late? Like in 'Fall Announcement date' Late? or December and 'February 2014 Announcement Late?'

    The physics is pretty amazing. 20nm is pretty darn small for large scale production runs... we're getting down to the quantum tunneling levels (~15nm), thus approaching the end of Moore's Law at the single core level. Will quality rates erode? Will Shroedinger's Cat Youtube Videos be both alive and dead on an Iphone at the same time?


    Intel has Broadwell at 14nm which has been confirmed to work, slated for 2014 as the die shrink of Haswell (just publicly demoed) that's coming next year as the sequel Ivy Bridge. It is going to be interesting to see what we'll be looking at come 2016. I think Intel has 10nm in the roadmap, call me a skeptic on that one...

  • Reply 5 of 66
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member


    Will be interesting to see if TSMC uses their Camas, Washington plant to make the A7 (or whatever the quad-core Ax chip will be called.)  Or maybe they could open another fab in the US...

  • Reply 6 of 66


    Originally Posted by thataveragejoe View Post

    I think Intel has 10nm in the roadmap, call me a skeptic on that one...


     


    Skylake and Skymont are 14 and 10nm, respectively. Why be skeptical? They also have plans for unnamed 7nm (2017) and 5nm (2019) processes. CEO says they'll have to stop using silicon for those.

  • Reply 7 of 66
    Intel has Broadwell at 14nm which has been confirmed to work, slated for 2014 as the die shrink of Haswell (just publicly demoed) that's coming next year as the sequel Ivy Bridge. It is going to be interesting to see what we'll be looking at come 2016. I think Intel has 10nm in the roadmap, call me a skeptic on that one...

    Actually, Intel has a 7 nm process on their roadmap for 2017 using exotic materials. (1)

    At Research@Intel Day 2011 Intel's Chief Technology Officer, Justin Rattner, spoke about the 14nm node that is scheduled to debut in about 2 years, but also about 8nm, that he said was on track about 18 months after the 14 nm release. (2)

    700

    1. Brian Wang. 16 June 2011. Intel Roadmap from June 2011 with 7nm node for 2017 and 10 nm in 2015. Next Big Future. Retrieved 12 October 2012.

    2. Mads Ølholm. Published 8 June 2011. Intel starts talking about 8nm node Also more exotic materials on the radar. Semi Accurate. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  • Reply 8 of 66


    Very nice!  Can't wait for this to happen.  Apple's about to put a hurtin' on Samsung.  Awesome.

  • Reply 9 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Skylake and Skymont are 14 and 10nm, respectively. Why be skeptical? They also have plans for unnamed 7nm (2017) and 5nm (2019) processes. CEO says they'll have to stop using silicon for those.



    I frankly haven't looked THAT far head. I did see this http://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-cpu-processor-5nm,17578.html but a lot can happen in 2-3 years in this business. What I originally said is what I know works. 


     


    Quote:


    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post





    Actually, Intel has a 7 nm process on their roadmap for 2017 using exotic materials. (1)

    At Research@Intel Day 2011 Intel's Chief Technology Officer, Justin Rattner, spoke about the 14nm node that is scheduled to debut in about 2 years, but also about 8nm, that he said was on track about 18 months after the 14 nm release. (2)



    1. Brian Wang. 16 June 2011. Intel Roadmap from June 2011 with 7nm node for 2017 and 10 nm in 2015. Next Big Future. Retrieved 12 October 2012.

    2. Mads Ølholm. Published 8 June 2011. Intel starts talking about 8nm node Also more exotic materials on the radar. Semi Accurate. Retrieved 12 October 2012.


    That's rather old and has a big "to be defined label" on it. I don't doubt Intel will march right on forward, but I do think it will get harder, especially as they move to 'new materials' and collapse further into a SoC.

  • Reply 10 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post





    Actually, Intel has a 7 nm process on their roadmap for 2017 using exotic materials. (1)



    1. Brian Wang. 16 June 2011. Intel Roadmap from June 2011 with 7nm node for 2017 and 10 nm in 2015. Next Big Future. Retrieved 12 October 2012.

    2. Mads Ølholm. Published 8 June 2011. Intel starts talking about 8nm node Also more exotic materials on the radar. Semi Accurate. Retrieved 12 October 2012.


     


    I stand corrected: Exotic Materials =/=  CMOS (15nm is considered the quantum leakage zone for CMOS).  and likely 'not cheap.'  (like in cheap like in dirt cheap... silicon is a pretty cheap material).


     


    The underlying issue here is that Intel has always charged a premium for their chips.  Can they pull an Apple and claim that the value is worth the markup, and if their production prices double when they move to exotic materials, what will their prices do?


     


    Remember, while Intel may consider their chips a top tier brand and can command the prices, they are basically a commodity product.  they are one step up from ball bearings in the computing industry (okay, more like engines vs ball bearings... but they are not 'the car').


     


    This is where I like Apple being able to customized their SoC's to be tuned to their 'current' OS.  Intel can't do that.  They have to build a stock engine.  Apple can build an Engine that matches both the transmission, and the fuel and the air mix.


     


    But it's these barriers that generate a quantum (no pun intended) leap in science and engineering. 

  • Reply 11 of 66
    Skylake and Skymont are 14 and 10nm, respectively. Why be skeptical? They also have plans for unnamed 7nm (2017) and 5nm (2019) processes. CEO says they'll have to stop using silicon for those.
    I stand corrected: Exotic Materials =/=  CMOS (15nm is considered the quantum leakage zone for CMOS).  and likely 'not cheap.'  (like in cheap like in dirt cheap... silicon is a pretty cheap material).

    The underlying issue here is that Intel has always charged a premium for their chips.  Can they pull an Apple and claim that the value is worth the markup, and if their production prices double when they move to exotic materials, what will their prices do?

    Remember, while Intel may consider their chips a top tier brand and can command the prices, they are basically a commodity product.  they are one step up from ball bearings in the computing industry (okay, more like engines vs ball bearings... but they are not 'the car').

    This is where I like Apple being able to customized their SoC's to be tuned to their 'current' OS.  Intel can't do that.  They have to build a stock engine.  Apple can build an Engine that matches both the transmission, and the fuel and the air mix.

    But it's these barriers that generate a quantum (no pun intended) leap in science and engineering. 

    Not a correction. I was simply providing evidence to support that which you already believed but had some right for skepticism as 10 nm has been touted as the "breaking point" for Moore's Law for more than a decade. Incorrectly, I incidentally believe. There is; however, something much larger at work than Moore's Law.

    I believe Tallest Skil is essentially referring to the same ideas I am promoting:

    "Exponential growth continued through paradigm shifts from vacuum tubes to discrete transistors to integrated circuits."

    The resources underlying the exponential growth of an evolutionary process are relatively unbounded:

    (i) The (ever growing) order of the evolutionary process itself. Each stage of evolution provides more powerful tools for the next. In biological evolution, the advent of DNA allowed more powerful and faster evolutionary “experiments.” Later, setting the “designs” of animal body plans during the Cambrian explosion allowed rapid evolutionary development of other body organs such as the brain. Or to take a more recent example, the advent of computer assisted design tools allows rapid development of the next generation of computers.

    (ii) The “chaos” of the environment in which the evolutionary process takes place and which provides the options for further diversity. In biological evolution, diversity enters the process in the form of mutations and ever changing environmental conditions. In technological evolution, human ingenuity combined with ever changing market conditions keep the process of innovation going.


    Ray Kurzweil predicts the meta-trend, that Moore's Law attempts to describe, will continue beyond 2020. The result in 2029 should be a computer 512 times more powerful than Watson. If the trend continues then by 2045 we will have computers 131,072 times more powerful than Watson.


    From The Law of Accelerating Returns
    March 7, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil

    It is important to note that Moore’s Law of Integrated Circuits was not the first, but the fifth paradigm to provide accelerating price-performance. Computing devices have been consistently multiplying in power (per unit of time) from the mechanical calculating devices used in the 1890 U.S. Census, to Turing’s relay-based “Robinson” machine that cracked the Nazi enigma code, to the CBS vacuum tube computer that predicted the election of Eisenhower, to the transistor-based machines used in the first space launches, to the integrated-circuit-based personal computer which I used to dictate (and automatically transcribe) this essay.

    But I noticed something else surprising. When I plotted the 49 machines on an exponential graph (where a straight line means exponential growth), I didn’t get a straight line. What I got was another exponential curve. In other words, there’s exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Computer speed (per unit cost) doubled every three years between 1910 and 1950, doubled every two years between 1950 and 1966, and is now doubling every year.

    But where does Moore’s Law come from? What is behind this remarkably predictable phenomenon? I have seen relatively little written about the ultimate source of this trend. Is it just “a set of industry expectations and goals,” as Randy Isaac, head of basic science at IBM contends? Or is there something more profound going on?
  • Reply 12 of 66
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member


    I can only think of two (technical) reasons why Apple hasn't already migrated the MacBook Air to ARM:


     


    Issue 1: Insufficient computing performance


    Solution: A quad core ARM SoC clocked reasonably fast (between 1Ghz and 2Ghz) might be fast enough for the average MacBook Air user.


     


    Issue 2: OS X requires a 64-bit architecture and instruction set but ARMv7 is 32-bit


    Solution: The ARMv8 spec, with 64-bit architecture and instruction set, was released almost a year ago.  A7 could be an ARMv8 design.


     


    This would be a perfect opportunity for Apple to do for Mac what they've already done for iPhone / iPad / iPod touch / Apple TV:


    optimize their hardware and software for each other.  In a way that no other consumer electronics company can.

  • Reply 13 of 66
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,681member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post




    My understanding is that Apple does do all the designs for their mobile CPU's.  They do license from ARM but they still tweak them to their needs.



    I would prefer that Apple move the fabrication of their chips away from Samsung.



     


    The A4 is believed to be a tweaked Samsung/Intrinsity SoC using an ARM Cortex-A8.


    The A5, and A5X are custom Apple SoCs, the CPU cores are ARM Cortex-A9.


    The A6 is a custom SoC with what appear to be custom (non-ARM reference designs) cores that implement ARM's ARMv7 ISA.

  • Reply 14 of 66


    LIKE AN APPLE: Microsoft will design their own ARM chip based on an ARM Mali graphics core. WinRT will run on a dedicated Microsoft Windows Metro Processor (No more Qualcomm, Nvidia fragmentation). TBA '13.


     


    To be announced after Surface phone.
  • Reply 15 of 66
    It's going to be frightening what the iPad 2014 will be able to do.

    For 2012-2013.

    The A6 puts the hurt on the A5/A5x in a big way. Smashes it in 'Geek Bench.'

    ...and I guess it isn't fully clocked at that due to it going into an iPhone.

    Put the A6'X'(?) with more GPU cores and higher clocked cpu...it should be a very impressive performer in the next iPad (4?) (New, new ;)

    A 2014 iPad is going to be pretty amazing. Will anybody want to use low to mid end laptops by then?

    I think Marv' posted a pretty impressive graph of the exploding performance of the iPhone since its debut.

    Apple making their own chips? They're already doing it...and seem set to do it in an even bigger way in future with the former AMD chip designer lured away from Samsung.

    Go Apple.

    Lemon Bon Bon.
  • Reply 16 of 66


    Originally Posted by eastofeastside View Post


    To be announced after Surface phone.



     


    Surface phone… so's that a 6" phone, then? image

  • Reply 17 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by eastofeastside View Post


    LIKE AN APPLE: Microsoft will design their own ARM chip based on an ARM Mali graphics core. WinRT will run on a dedicated Microsoft Windows Metro Processor (No more Qualcomm, Nvidia fragmentation). TBA '13.


     


    To be announced after Surface phone.



    Apple and M$ going ARM?


     


    Smelling the coffee, Intel?  


     


    Lemon Bon Bon.

  • Reply 18 of 66

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Surface phone… so's that a 6" phone, then? image



     


    If it's anything like its 'big ass' touch table...it's going to be pretty hard to pick up next to your ear...


     


    Lemon Bon Bon.

  • Reply 19 of 66
    I can't wait for the inevitable 2 nm then 0 nm. Course leakage might be an issue for (Intel or anyone else) on that but I am sure they will find a way around it. /s

    Seriously, how far are we from using light in a commercial apparatus -- that would seem to blow anything metallic away (except at some point point there is that damn bottle neck where they need to interface with the rest of the silicon/exotic materials world).
  • Reply 20 of 66
    wovelwovel Posts: 956member
    <span style="font-family:Georgia, Times, 'Times New Roman', serif;font-size:15px;line-height:23.91666603088379px;">LIKE AN APPLE: Microsoft will design their own ARM chip based on an ARM Mali graphics core. WinRT will run on a dedicated Microsoft Windows Metro Processor (No more Qualcomm, Nvidia fragmentation). TBA '13.</span>

     
    <span style="font-family:Georgia, Times, 'Times New Roman', serif;font-size:15px;line-height:23.91666603088379px;">To be announced after Surface phone.</span>

    You made accounts here and MR today just to post this?

    I see now you are trying to run a short game. http://finance.yahoo.com/mbview/userview/?&u=eastofeastside&bn=289f1fdb-c8cf-3d22-9664-863cc3adc5d8
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