TSMC rumored to be exclusive manufacturer for Apple 'A10' CPU in 2016

Posted:
in iPhone edited September 2015
Taiwan's TSMC is set to become the exclusive manufacturer of an Apple "A10" processor for next-generation iPhones, cutting Samsung out of the loop, according to a new rumor.




Production will begin in March next year using a 16-nanometer process, the China Times claimed. The chip is said to use InFO (integrated fan out) architecture, offering advantages such as cutting costs and streamlining manufacturing.

It could also potentially allow Apple to switch to a system-in-package arrangement similar to the S1 in the Apple Watch. That might make the "A10" more efficient, and allow future iPhones to either shrink further or make room for other upgrades like bigger batteries.

The A9 processor in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus is reportedly being manufactured by both Samsung and TSMC. For several years Samsung was the exclusive maker of A-series chips at a factory in Austin, Tex., but sheer demand and/or Apple's desire to distance itself from Samsung may have led to TSMC entering the picture. TSMC is expected to keep producing A8 chips for devices like the Apple TV and iPad mini 4.

Apple has yet to even ship the 6s and 6s Plus, which are due on Sept. 25. The iPhone development process is typically long and drawn out however, and Apple needs to have parts ready well before assembly begins.

Next-generation iPhones -- presumably an "iPhone 7" and "7 Plus" -- aren't expected to ship until a year or more from now. Versions of the "A10" should also make their way into future iPads.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42

    Why do analysts keep trying to predict Apple will split orders for the same Ax chip to two foundries? TSMC and Samsung use different fab technologies which will give slightly different performance and electrical characteristics. You don't want that in your main processor because you need might two different tests to qualify them. It is not going to happen. 

  • Reply 2 of 42
    They are not only predicting this to happen in the future, they are also reporting this to have happened in the past. And we know from various other components that Apple is frequently using two manufacturers for one component. One example is display panels, just google for "display lottery" and "Apple".
  • Reply 3 of 42
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,884member

    And in other breaking news, Apple is rumored to be thinking about introducing new phones in 2017 and 2018. More on this as soon as we can make stuff up.

  • Reply 4 of 42
    I wonder if these constraints are the reason the ATV does not use the A9X? I would have expected the ATV to have the fastest A? processor for games, but they could not make enough to support the iPhone, iPad Pro and the ATV at the same time.
  • Reply 5 of 42
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,757member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post



    I wonder if these constraints are the reason the ATV does not use the A9X? I would have expected the ATV to have the fastest A? processor for games, but they could not make enough to support the iPhone, iPad Pro and the ATV at the same time.

    Probably both price point and availability. My guess is that Apple will do a future upgrade in two years, and it will be an A10X System in Package by then. Truth be told, no one really has any idea on how big gaming will turn out to be on the AppleTV.

     

    My own thought is that there might be a AxxG version in the future for the AppleTV that will exploit more GPU cores; Apple will be able to justify a larger die at a previous generation node without the worry of energy efficiency that other iOS devices require. Likely Apple could charge a $50 premium for this with 4K out as the next generation AppleTV, further separating all of the other streaming devices on the market, and pushing yet farther into Console territory.

  • Reply 6 of 42
    And the A10X will just be called the AXX.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by krreagan View Post



    I wonder if these constraints are the reason the ATV does not use the A9X? I would have expected the ATV to have the fastest A? processor for games, but they could not make enough to support the iPhone, iPad Pro and the ATV at the same time.



    Very possible (same as what tmay says). Remember, the A8 performance in the ATV may be a lot higher than in the phone, which minimizes the difference vs. the A9, as the A8 in the ATV can be designed to have a much higher "safe operating area" with higher power consumption, higher heat dissipation, and possibly higher clock rate.

  • Reply 8 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    ralphmouth wrote: »
    Why do analysts keep trying to predict Apple will source the same Ax chip from two different foundries? TSMC and Samsung use different fab technologies which will give slightly different performance and electrical characteristics in the two chips. You don't want that in your main processor because you need might two different tests to qualify them. It is not going to happen. 

    Why do people make a big deal over this idea? First off relying upon one factory at the volumes Apple needs would be deadly as any natural disaster would destroy your business completely. Look at what happened to disk drive manufacturing due to one flood. This doesn't even consider the other problems a factory can have.

    Second; if you are to have a cook off challenge with two vendors involved you have to be able to completely test both chips any ways. In the case of Apple all they need to do is to source chips that perform identically in the products they sell. This isn't as hard as one might imagine. For one Apple isn't targeting the highest performance possible, they actually aren't even close clock rate wise.

    Honestly I would be shocked if Apple didn't have contingency plans in place and maintains at least two vendors capable of manufacturing the A series chips. As a stock holder it is an expectation to protect my interest in the company.
  • Reply 9 of 42
    How much time do we have to wait before an article about Samsung being the actual winner is published? And, the word, "rumor" not contained in the title?
  • Reply 10 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    formosa wrote: »

    Very possible (same as what tmay says). Remember, the A8 performance in the ATV may be a lot higher than in the phone, which minimizes the difference vs. the A9, as the A8 in the ATV can be designed to have a much higher "safe operating area" with higher power consumption, higher heat dissipation, and possibly higher clock rate.

    With the coming developer tools hopefully we will be able to verify exactly what is in the new Apple TV????

    The physical size increase to the Apple TV would suggest though that they have upped the clock rate and thus the power disapation. The only other reason I could see for a size increase would be storage on some sort of plug in module.
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Every year with this rumor, and every year it's wrong. Enough already. Samsung isn't going anywhere, folks, and TSMC isn't big enough to handle sole production, sorry.
  • Reply 12 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    How much time do we have to wait before an article about Samsung being the actual winner is published? And, the word, "rumor" not contained in the title?

    Probably forever. Let's face it the 6S hasn't even shipped yet and we have rumors about the A10, does that make sense? Further does anybody here really think a decision has been made this far in advanced? It would be one thing if this rumor occurred in early 2016 as the design would be solidifying for the next generation iPhones but at this point it is too early, I just can't see Apple making a final decision at this point.
  • Reply 13 of 42
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    cash907 wrote: »
    Every year with this rumor, and every year it's wrong. Enough already. Samsung isn't going anywhere, folks, and TSMC isn't big enough to handle sole production, sorry.


    All we have right now for A9 is speculation and rumor with no solid information. So why would anybody even consider a discussion about A10. By the way I'd love to see a tear down of the A9(x), photo ideographs and all, just to see what the chip is made of. The number of cores and all that good stuff.
  • Reply 14 of 42
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,663member
    krreagan wrote: »
    I wonder if these constraints are the reason the ATV does not use the A9X? I would have expected the ATV to have the fastest A? processor for games, but they could not make enough to support the iPhone, iPad Pro and the ATV at the same time.

    Cost is the chief problem there. I would have liked to see the A9. Never would have expected the "X" series in there. I expect Apple will either upgrade the ATv either every two, or three years, depending on the response from consumers. If big games start to do well, and sales are moving, and developers are asking Apple for more power, they'll do it sooner. Otherwise, they'll wait three years.

    Price is a main object here. I think everyone was VERY surprised that they have a $149 model with 32GB storage, and 64GB for $199. Expectations were for 8GB for $149, and 16 for $199, or, at best, 16 for $149. So that was a shocker. Likely, that prevented them from using a newer, and more expensive chip. It's all about trade offs.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,663member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    Why do people make a big deal over this idea? First off relying upon one factory at the volumes Apple needs would be deadly as any natural disaster would destroy your business completely. Look at what happened to disk drive manufacturing due to one flood. This doesn't even consider the other problems a factory can have.

    Second; if you are to have a cook off challenge with two vendors involved you have to be able to completely test both chips any ways. In the case of Apple all they need to do is to source chips that perform identically in the products they sell. This isn't as hard as one might imagine. For one Apple isn't targeting the highest performance possible, they actually aren't even close clock rate wise.

    Honestly I would be shocked if Apple didn't have contingency plans in place and maintains at least two vendors capable of manufacturing the A series chips. As a stock holder it is an expectation to protect my interest in the company.

    That's right. People forget that Samsung's Texas plant has been in operation for some time, producing mainly Apple's chips. But Apple's chip needs have grown dramatically. Since it's unlikely that Samsung built a much bigger factory than they thought they would use for several years, it's very possible that it simply can't handle the order size that Apple needs these days.

    In addition, it's also possible that Samsung did some of this to themselves. When Apple moved a lot of new chip production to TSMC, it's unlikely that Samsung would have wanted to see the plant idle for a part of the time. As we all should know, their new 6series use their own Exnos chips instead of Qualcomm's due to the infamous overheat problems of their 810 chip. So where would Samsung make those unexpected larger numbers of Exnos chips? Possibly in their Texas plant. Given that that the Exnos chip seems to be a pretty good chip, I imagine that Samsung is encouraged to use them again. So that leaves Apple with a problem. A solution would be to go back to TSMC.

    The one thing that the report is confusing about is why TSMC would be on a 16nm process in mid to late 2016.
  • Reply 16 of 42
    Just stop shoveling us this same played out sh!t every year after the new iPhone is released.
  • Reply 17 of 42
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member
    Yup, the rumour loses all credibility round about here …
    or make room for other upgrades like bigger batteries.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    The most interesting Ax processor will be at 10nm node fabrication in 2017. All chip fabrication giants like Intel, Samsung Austin, Global foundries, TSMC and UMC rushing to produce efficient 10nm process and other than Intel they all trying for one customer, Apple. AND apple want to distance from Samsung because Apple don't want Samsung to learn through design production of future Ax processor and apply that knowledge to it's own Exnos processor later competing with Apple in smartphone business.

    Due to reduced size with 10nm process, it will allow Apple to integrate Wifi,cellular modem, etc on same chip as A11 making it more efficient, less heat and reduced foot print permitting larger longer battery life..
  • Reply 19 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post





    That's right. People forget that Samsung's Texas plant has been in operation for some time, producing mainly Apple's chips. But Apple's chip needs have grown dramatically. Since it's unlikely that Samsung built a much bigger factory than they thought they would use for several years, it's very possible that it simply can't handle the order size that Apple needs these days.



    In addition, it's also possible that Samsung did some of this to themselves. When Apple moved a lot of new chip production to TSMC, it's unlikely that Samsung would have wanted to see the plant idle for a part of the time. As we all should know, their new 6series use their own Exnos chips instead of Qualcomm's due to the infamous overheat problems of their 810 chip. So where would Samsung make those unexpected larger numbers of Exnos chips? Possibly in their Texas plant. Given that that the Exnos chip seems to be a pretty good chip, I imagine that Samsung is encouraged to use them again. So that leaves Apple with a problem. A solution would be to go back to TSMC.



    The one thing that the report is confusing about is why TSMC would be on a 16nm process in mid to late 2016.



    TSMC or Samsung won't be ready with their large volume 10nm production until end of 2016 which is too late for Apple A10 to go into iphone 7..

  • Reply 20 of 42
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post



    How much time do we have to wait before an article about Samsung being the actual winner is published? And, the word, "rumor" not contained in the title?

     

    They seemingly didn't fully win this time, split run were Samsung gets more than TSMC, and certainly not in the A8 were TSMC had the bulk if not all of it.

     

    So, not sure what your getting at?

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