Apple chip builder TSMC expected to see record Q3 on 'A10' chips

Posted:
in iPhone
Chip manufacturer TSMC on Monday posted revenues of just under $6.89 billion for its second quarter, and is anticipated to do even better in the third quarter thanks to growing shipments of Apple "A10" processors for upcoming iPhones and iPads.




Q2 revenues were up 9 percent sequentially, and 8 percent year-over-year, DigiTimes reported. Market forecasts quoted by the Commercial Times meanwhile suggest that because of the A10, TSMC's Q3 revenues could hit record levels, between $7.14 billion and $7.45 billion.

Apple is thought to be relying on TSMC and its 16-nanometer FinFET process for most or all A10 chip orders, marginalizing Samsung, which was once the sole producer of A-series chips but has increasingly lost orders as Apple tries to reduce its dependence. The A9 processor in the iPhone 6s line is produced by both TSMC and Samsung, for instance.

TSMC's recent quarter bucks a trend seen by other Apple suppliers, including Foxconn, which have reported weak orders even when compared with usual seasonal slumps.

If it is the sole producer of A10 chips, though, TSMC stands to generate large sums off of Apple orders in the run up to the launch of the "iPhone 7" and new iPad models, though there have been few rumors about the latter. New iPhones should ship sometime in September if Apple follows its normal release patterns.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    Funny when Foxconn sees a drop in revenue and people equate it with Apple while forgetting just how many companies they manufacture for. Blame everything on Apple.
    cali
  • Reply 2 of 16
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    Looking forward to seeing how this means that Apple is doomed. 
    nolamacguycaliDeelron
  • Reply 3 of 16
    jakeb said:
    Looking forward to seeing how this means that Apple is doomed. 

    "The A10 is still using 2 cores while others have moved on to 4 or 8. Apple needs to add more cores or they'll get left behind."
    nolamacguyai46ronnpscooter63chiafastasleep
  • Reply 4 of 16
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 676member
    Suck it, samsung. Suck it up.
    cali
  • Reply 5 of 16
    michael scripmichael scrip Posts: 1,912member

    Funny when Foxconn sees a drop in revenue and people equate it with Apple while forgetting just how many companies they manufacture for. Blame everything on Apple.
    True... Foxconn builds stuff for lots of companies.

    But you also need to consider how many units Apple orders from Foxconn.

    If Apple sells 50 million iPhones... it's safe to say that Foxconn builds 50 million iPhones.  And Foxconn's revenue is high because of them.

    Now contrast that with low-volume "no name" companies who order less than 50,000 units from Foxconn.  Imagine the money that is spent retooling the factory to produce a product that doesn't have a big order... plus the training for the workers... etc.

    It doesn't even have to be a "no name" company.  We know Foxconn builds stuff for Nintendo, right?  Well Nintendo isn't ordering 50 million Nintendo DS from Foxconn.

    I'd argue that Apple is one of Foxconn's most important clients... both in volume and revenue. So yeah... Foxconn can be affected if Apple reduces their order.  Much more than any other client.
    ronn
  • Reply 6 of 16
    jakeb said:
    Looking forward to seeing how this means that Apple is doomed. 

    "The A10 is still using 2 cores while others have moved on to 4 or 8. Apple needs to add more cores or they'll get left behind."
    I hope your post was being cynical. Why should Apple use more cores? Is the current lineup sluggish?
    If they use more CPU's as default then I would fully expect the Battery Life Critics would march on Cupertino.
    Please give us citation on why Apple needs to go to 4 or 8 cores?

    mwhitecaliDeelron
  • Reply 7 of 16
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    The A9 was also on 16nm ff. I guess this is 16 nm ff+, right? 

    From what I can gather, the biggest improvement might have to do with packaging -- the ability to stack another chip inside the same package. Perhaps that means ultra fast access to RAM? 

    My impression (but I might be reading this wrong) is that this process can handle higher power, so perhaps the A10 will clock higher (but maybe we'll only see that in devices with bigger batteries, like the iPad Pro). 

    Perhaps they will also have better yield rates now, which could mean that the A10 can have a bigger die size than the A9. 

    So.... I wonder what Apple will do with all of this. I'm going to guess they play it fairly conservative with respect to the CPU cores -- maybe they run at a higher frequency, but otherwise I'll guess it's still two cores and that they only get small design tweaks. I'll guess the GPU ends up being somewhere between 25% and 50% faster, through a combination of higher clock and more transistors, but nothing revolutionary there. Finally, I'll guess that the biggest improvements in the A10 will be fixed function stuff that's there to support a significantly improved camera. 
  • Reply 8 of 16
    anderkhanderkh Posts: 23member
    SARCASM!

    "The A10 is still using 2 cores while others have moved on to 4 or 8. Apple needs to add more cores or they'll get left behind."
    I hope your post was being cynical. Why should Apple use more cores? Is the current lineup sluggish?
    If they use more CPU's as default then I would fully expect the Battery Life Critics would march on Cupertino.
    Please give us citation on why Apple needs to go to 4 or 8 cores?

    caliai46ronnpscooter63fastasleep
  • Reply 9 of 16
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member

    "The A10 is still using 2 cores while others have moved on to 4 or 8. Apple needs to add more cores or they'll get left behind."
    I hope your post was being cynical. Why should Apple use more cores? Is the current lineup sluggish?
    If they use more CPU's as default then I would fully expect the Battery Life Critics would march on Cupertino.
    Please give us citation on why Apple needs to go to 4 or 8 cores?

    More sarcasm than cynicism. The spec monkey neckbeards (and I mean that in the most derisive way possible) don’t care about form, function, design, UI, or anything else. All this crowd cares about is a checklist of CPU cores, DRAM, ports, and bus speed. If the thing looked like a dog turd but had the specs they would declare it supreme. Have you ever looked at some of the cases and parts in Microcenter? Nuff said.
    sricenolamacguycaliai46ericthehalfbeechia
  • Reply 10 of 16
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    blastdoor said:
    The A9 was also on 16nm ff. I guess this is 16 nm ff+, right? 

    From what I can gather, the biggest improvement might have to do with packaging -- the ability to stack another chip inside the same package. Perhaps that means ultra fast access to RAM? 

    My impression (but I might be reading this wrong) is that this process can handle higher power, so perhaps the A10 will clock higher (but maybe we'll only see that in devices with bigger batteries, like the iPad Pro). 

    Perhaps they will also have better yield rates now, which could mean that the A10 can have a bigger die size than the A9. 

    So.... I wonder what Apple will do with all of this. I'm going to guess they play it fairly conservative with respect to the CPU cores -- maybe they run at a higher frequency, but otherwise I'll guess it's still two cores and that they only get small design tweaks. I'll guess the GPU ends up being somewhere between 25% and 50% faster, through a combination of higher clock and more transistors, but nothing revolutionary there. Finally, I'll guess that the biggest improvements in the A10 will be fixed function stuff that's there to support a significantly improved camera. 
    It could very well be called FF+.    Last I knew TSMC had three processes available at this node.    Essentially 16nm FinFet optimized for different uses, it is completely possible that TSMC has improved the process to lower power usage yet again.   

    Im not sure I'd call stacked dies a packaging improvement, more like a manufacturing improvement.   I'm fairly confident that they well stack RAM on top of the processor.   Depending upon the type of RAM stacked this could lead to a massive increase in performance and better thermals.  The need for high power line drivers would be gone as they could talk to the RAM at chip level voltages and higher frequencies.   The real question is do they use conventional RAM or resort to some of the new very high speed RAMs out there like AMD and Intel are using.  

    As as for power it isn't the chips ability to handle power that is an issue, it is really the products ability to cool the chip that is an issue.   Being proprietary to Apple we don't really know how fast the A series chips can be clocked.  I suspect that clocking is based around maximizing yields and that leads to the possibility of much faster chips.   Frankly I kinda wish that Apple would sort out the faster chips for the iPads, iPads could always use better performance.  

    Die size is an interesting problem.   There seems to be a weak trend in industry to drop the huge dies in favor of multiple dies linked in package.  There was an interesting article, which I probably will never find again, about the huge costs associated with the ultra high integration chips.   Of course Apple doesn't have a problem with costs.    It will be interesting to see if Apple tries to repartition the A series into an assembly of stacked dies.  For example, a CPU die, a GPU die and a RAM die all stacked together.  This would give them some advantages, for example a more powerful GPU just becomes a reconfiguration of the stack for the iPad.  The additional room on the CPU die also allows for more cache and cores.   The interesting thing about ARM cores is that they don't take much power so more cores might be easy.

    it is a complete guessing game as to what Apple might do.  They could be extremely conservative with TSMC die stacking and only use one layer or they could stack multiple dies.   I actually believe a Apple will see a need to aggressively improve performance of the CPUs and will likely add at least one more core.    Why?   Because software is becoming far more demanding with Swift Playgrounds being one example.   Besides that the competition is trying to catch up!   At this point if I had to guess a CPU core is probably running at far less than 500 milliwatts, maybe as much as half that.   As for design tweaks to the cores it might be more than you want to admit, the architecture could be enhanced for more performance but I suspect there is much they could do for power usage still.  Since the last transition didn't offer much in the way of CPU improvements we might see a big improvement this time around. 

    Camera  processing is a real interesting topic all on its own.  
    fastasleep
  • Reply 11 of 16
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    wizard69 said:
    blastdoor said:
    The A9 was also on 16nm ff. I guess this is 16 nm ff+, right? 

    From what I can gather, the biggest improvement might have to do with packaging -- the ability to stack another chip inside the same package. Perhaps that means ultra fast access to RAM? 

    My impression (but I might be reading this wrong) is that this process can handle higher power, so perhaps the A10 will clock higher (but maybe we'll only see that in devices with bigger batteries, like the iPad Pro). 

    Perhaps they will also have better yield rates now, which could mean that the A10 can have a bigger die size than the A9. 

    So.... I wonder what Apple will do with all of this. I'm going to guess they play it fairly conservative with respect to the CPU cores -- maybe they run at a higher frequency, but otherwise I'll guess it's still two cores and that they only get small design tweaks. I'll guess the GPU ends up being somewhere between 25% and 50% faster, through a combination of higher clock and more transistors, but nothing revolutionary there. Finally, I'll guess that the biggest improvements in the A10 will be fixed function stuff that's there to support a significantly improved camera. 
    It could very well be called FF+.    Last I knew TSMC had three processes available at this node.    Essentially 16nm FinFet optimized for different uses, it is completely possible that TSMC has improved the process to lower power usage yet again.   

    Im not sure I'd call stacked dies a packaging improvement, more like a manufacturing improvement.   I'm fairly confident that they well stack RAM on top of the processor.   Depending upon the type of RAM stacked this could lead to a massive increase in performance and better thermals.  The need for high power line drivers would be gone as they could talk to the RAM at chip level voltages and higher frequencies.   The real question is do they use conventional RAM or resort to some of the new very high speed RAMs out there like AMD and Intel are using.  

    As as for power it isn't the chips ability to handle power that is an issue, it is really the products ability to cool the chip that is an issue.   Being proprietary to Apple we don't really know how fast the A series chips can be clocked.  I suspect that clocking is based around maximizing yields and that leads to the possibility of much faster chips.   Frankly I kinda wish that Apple would sort out the faster chips for the iPads, iPads could always use better performance.  

    Die size is an interesting problem.   There seems to be a weak trend in industry to drop the huge dies in favor of multiple dies linked in package.  There was an interesting article, which I probably will never find again, about the huge costs associated with the ultra high integration chips.   Of course Apple doesn't have a problem with costs.    It will be interesting to see if Apple tries to repartition the A series into an assembly of stacked dies.  For example, a CPU die, a GPU die and a RAM die all stacked together.  This would give them some advantages, for example a more powerful GPU just becomes a reconfiguration of the stack for the iPad.  The additional room on the CPU die also allows for more cache and cores.   The interesting thing about ARM cores is that they don't take much power so more cores might be easy.

    it is a complete guessing game as to what Apple might do.  They could be extremely conservative with TSMC die stacking and only use one layer or they could stack multiple dies.   I actually believe a Apple will see a need to aggressively improve performance of the CPUs and will likely add at least one more core.    Why?   Because software is becoming far more demanding with Swift Playgrounds being one example.   Besides that the competition is trying to catch up!   At this point if I had to guess a CPU core is probably running at far less than 500 milliwatts, maybe as much as half that.   As for design tweaks to the cores it might be more than you want to admit, the architecture could be enhanced for more performance but I suspect there is much they could do for power usage still.  Since the last transition didn't offer much in the way of CPU improvements we might see a big improvement this time around. 

    Camera  processing is a real interesting topic all on its own.  
    Very interesting and through provoking reply -- thanks!!
  • Reply 12 of 16
    And if Apple releases another "ho hum, yawn" product this cycle, they won't hit anywhere close to record revenues on an A10.  Love the speculation.  Love the click-bait.
  • Reply 13 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    "The A10 is still using 2 cores while others have moved on to 4 or 8. Apple needs to add more cores or they'll get left behind."
    I hope your post was being cynical. Why should Apple use more cores? Is the current lineup sluggish?
    If they use more CPU's as default then I would fully expect the Battery Life Critics would march on Cupertino.
    Please give us citation on why Apple needs to go to 4 or 8 cores?

    He was using quotes, so it wasn't his words, and yes it was sarcastic.
  • Reply 14 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    wizard69 said:
    blastdoor said:
    The A9 was also on 16nm ff. I guess this is 16 nm ff+, right? 

    From what I can gather, the biggest improvement might have to do with packaging -- the ability to stack another chip inside the same package. Perhaps that means ultra fast access to RAM? 

    My impression (but I might be reading this wrong) is that this process can handle higher power, so perhaps the A10 will clock higher (but maybe we'll only see that in devices with bigger batteries, like the iPad Pro). 

    Perhaps they will also have better yield rates now, which could mean that the A10 can have a bigger die size than the A9. 

    So.... I wonder what Apple will do with all of this. I'm going to guess they play it fairly conservative with respect to the CPU cores -- maybe they run at a higher frequency, but otherwise I'll guess it's still two cores and that they only get small design tweaks. I'll guess the GPU ends up being somewhere between 25% and 50% faster, through a combination of higher clock and more transistors, but nothing revolutionary there. Finally, I'll guess that the biggest improvements in the A10 will be fixed function stuff that's there to support a significantly improved camera. 


    Camera  processing is a real interesting topic all on its own.  
    Apple using the a buttload of DSP to compensate for shallow focal length is something just about no one else can do (except maybe Samsung and Sony (to sustain their camera business).
  • Reply 15 of 16
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Gymkhana said:
    And if Apple releases another "ho hum, yawn" product this cycle, they won't hit anywhere close to record revenues on an A10.  Love the speculation.  Love the click-bait.
    They didn't release an oh hum the last time so not sure what your talking about.

    ericthehalfbee
  • Reply 16 of 16
    smalmsmalm Posts: 654member

    blastdoor said:
    The A9 was also on 16nm ff. I guess this is 16 nm ff+, right? 
    TSMC is producing A8 and A8X on the 20SOC process, A9 and A9X on the 16FF+ process. 16FF was canceled when 16FF+ went into production.
    Samsung is producing A7 on the 28 LPP process, A9 on the 14FF LPE process.

    Rumour:
    TSMC is producing the A10 on a 16FFC process that didn't get its own name beside the 'normal' 16FFC process as it is Apple only.
    The rumour started when in an investors conference the existence of a second 16FFC process for a special customer was mentioned...

    My own consideration:
    Samsung may already have stopped producing any SOC for Apple.
    The A7 is only used in the iPad mini 2 and TSMC shouldn't have any problems to produce enough A9 after the launch of iPhone 7.
    edited July 2016
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