TSMC gearing up for 'A11' chip production, likely for 'iPhone 7s' and 'iPhone 8' -- report...

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2017
Apple chip partner TSMC is said to begin volume production of the "A11" processor in April, with production of 50 million of the chips before July, according to a recent report.




The Chinese-language Economic Daily News reports that the "A11" chips soon to commence production will power a September iPhone, and will be built on a 10nm FinFET process. It isn't the company's first 10nm chip -- it began volume production of other chips on the same process in the fall of 2016 and started shipping them to other customers in the first calendar quarter of 2017.

The schedule for production and delivery is about the same as for the iPhone 7. However, the company is expected to deliver 100 million "A11" chips before the end of 2017, slightly ahead of what was delivered by the end of 2017 for the A10 Fusion.

The iPhone 7 family utilizes the A10 Fusion quad-core system on a chip with two high performance cores, and two energy efficient cores. It was built with a 16nm process by TSMC.

The "A11" appears slated for the "iPhone 7s" or "iPhone 8." Apple's "iPhone 8" is expected to use a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED panel which may or may not be curved, with a 5.1-inch practical area, the rest being dedicated to virtual buttons.

Other features rumored to be included in the device are a 3D facial scanner, and other sensors embedded in the front glass of the device.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,471member
    Apple should sync their chips, macOS, iOS, watchOS and TVOS to all have the same number the same year ... ;)
  • Reply 2 of 15
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,652member
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 
  • Reply 3 of 15
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,716member
    MacPro said:
    Apple should sync their chips, macOS, iOS, watchOS and TVOS to all have the same number the same year ... ;)
    I'm not sure that's a great idea.

    All the regular copiers of Apple follow, and the consumer and the media will become confused. Can't have that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.

    edited March 2017 tmayrepressthisRacerhomieX
  • Reply 5 of 15
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.


    A11X (in Apr-2017) before A11 (in Sep-2017), all the while skipping the A10X naming convention? I don't think it would happen. Apple might skip the A10X altogether and keep both the iphone and ipad pro with same A11 for this year and Sep launch for both iphone and ipad pro (saves R&D cost for making a new chip, for what is essentially a low volume product in relative terms).

    Other possibility is - as everyone thinks right now - iPad Pro in Apr-2017 with A10X. This allows for trial run on 10nm with smaller quantities for A10X and address the yield issues before mass production of A11 for iphone launch in Sep-2017

    edited March 2017 repressthis
  • Reply 6 of 15
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 
    Interesting that you should mention that!   If TSMC has been able to move to ten nm this fast it might offer Apple a significant advantage in the iPad.  Frankly the advantage is in more space for specialized hardware.  Yes the CPUs and GPUs will be improved but i expect Apple to start to incorporate machine learning hardware for one and even more advanced image processing hardware.  

    I suspect this will be needed if the rumored features such as facial recognition are to work quickly and accurately.  It is very possible in my mind that we will see neural network hardware to support such features.    Apple does have other options including mixing in this functionality into the GPU like AMD and NVidia are doing but i think that is a power wasting approach.   Going to 10nm leaves lots of room for such hardware while also allowing improvements to the CPU/GPU.  

    In any event what actually ships will be interesting.  

    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 15
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.


    A11X (in Apr-2017) before A11 (in Sep-2017), all the while skipping the A10X naming convention? I don't think it would happen. Apple might skip the A10X altogether and keep both the iphone and ipad pro with same A11 for this year and Sep launch for both iphone and ipad pro (saves R&D cost for making a new chip, for what is essentially a low volume product in relative terms).

    Other possibility is - as everyone thinks right now - iPad Pro in Apr-2017 with A10X. This allows for trial run on 10nm with smaller quantities for A10X and address the yield issues before mass production of A11 for iphone launch in Sep-2017


    Or, could it be that the Fusion design of the A10 has obviated the need for Apple X APUs?  If so, Both iPad Pros and iPhones could use the same chip -- with the ones in the iPad Pros clocked at a higher rate for both CPUs and GPUs.

    watto_cobra[Deleted User]
  • Reply 8 of 15
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,377member
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.

    The rumored start up is likely accurate!    Manufacturing the chips usually starts well before the actual hardware starts building.  As you note iPad is a possibility here.  The thing with iPad is this, what is in A11 to make the wait worthwhile.   This is a thought ripe for speculation.     I just know that 10 nm offers a lot of possibilities even after improvements to existing hardware on the current SoC.  

    As to your question about Intels modem, anything is possible here.  Personally i dont think they will integrate onto the SoC yet.   There are a couple of reasons one of which is the embarrassment it would cause Intel.  Another is a more practical issue of why mess with what works when that die space can be better used for other things.   Maybe it is wishful thinking but im expecting to see new tech in A11 to support some of these rumored new features.  
  • Reply 9 of 15
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.


    A11X (in Apr-2017) before A11 (in Sep-2017), all the while skipping the A10X naming convention? I don't think it would happen. Apple might skip the A10X altogether and keep both the iphone and ipad pro with same A11 for this year and Sep launch for both iphone and ipad pro (saves R&D cost for making a new chip, for what is essentially a low volume product in relative terms).

    Other possibility is - as everyone thinks right now - iPad Pro in Apr-2017 with A10X. This allows for trial run on 10nm with smaller quantities for A10X and address the yield issues before mass production of A11 for iphone launch in Sep-2017


    Or, could it be that the Fusion design of the A10 has obviated the need for Apple X APUs?  If so, Both iPad Pros and iPhones could use the same chip -- with the ones in the iPad Pros clocked at a higher rate for both CPUs and GPUs.

    Agreed, that is a possibility as well. But no A11X this year. It is either A10X or A11 for the iPad Pro.
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 15
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,716member
    blastdoor said:
    It sounds like the A10X is getting lost in the shuffle. 

    Yeah...  I wonder about that, too.  The natural for the A10X would have been an iPad Pro upgrade -- and possibly  a upgrade to the AppleTV/Home server.

    The fact that we've seen neither an A10X or iPad Pro upgrade (yet) makes me suspect that Apple will skip an A10X.

    However, if the report of an April A11 startup is correct, and rumors of an imminent iPad Pro upgrade -- Apple could announce iPad Pros with an A11X for availability in April/May.   Since the volume requirement for iPad Pros is relatively small, it could have little effect on availability of  a September launch of  A11 iPhones.

    I suspect that an A11X iPad Pro would be competitive to laptops while offering the additional advantages of Touch/Pencil UI.

    Also, I wonder if Apple will include the Intel modem radio on the A11 and A11X chips.

    I'm actually thinking the same, that Apple will skip the A10X and ship the iPad Pro's with the A11X, concurrently with production of A11. If anything, I would argue that the lesser volume of A11X would make it the natural to precede A11 production; after all, A11x is the bigger die, but in a more expensive product. This would also catch some other tablet/hybrid makers by surprise.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    qwweraqwwera Posts: 281member
    I think the advancements to it's A series chips is why we won't be getting a Mac mini ever again. Imagine that patent concept where the iPhone docks into the keyboard to double as the motherboard and touch pad on a magic keyboard? For anyone with a monitor, especially for budget windows and android users, it would be a boon to the iOS ecosystem and iPhone instantly! There would be no other budget PC solution that could compete. Especially as smartphones are becoming so essential to modern living and desktop PC's not so much. 
  • Reply 12 of 15
    wizard69 said:

    As to your question about Intels modem, anything is possible here.  Personally i dont think they will integrate onto the SoC yet.   There are a couple of reasons one of which is the embarrassment it would cause Intel.  Another is a more practical issue of why mess with what works when that die space can be better used for other things.   Maybe it is wishful thinking but im expecting to see new tech in A11 to support some of these rumored new features.  

    I respect your knowledge, experience and opinion, but don't understand why you think it would it embarrass Intel?  I read that Apple sent a team engineers to Intel to work with 1,000 Intel engineers on their modem...   That makes me suspect that Apple is getting first dibs on a  special modem capability that will later be made available to all comers.
    edited March 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 15
    tmay said:
    I'm actually thinking the same, that Apple will skip the A10X and ship the iPad Pro's with the A11X, concurrently with production of A11. If anything, I would argue that the lesser volume of A11X would make it the natural to precede A11 production; after all, A11x is the bigger die, but in a more expensive product. This would also catch some other tablet/hybrid makers by surprise.
    We may be way out in left field -- but there's a whole lotta sumpin'  going' on...  I been watchin' Apple (and IBM) long enough that I can just smell it!

    edited March 2017 tmaywatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 15

    Don't mean to hijack this thread for the iPad Pro, but...

    I've been thinking about the unmet promise of the iPad -- or more accurately the OS running on the iPad.

    It helps to reflect on some of Alan Kay's thoughts, emphasis mine:

    Alan Kay: With the Tablet, Apple Will Rule the World

    Kay’s interest in Apple’s upcoming tablet is only natural. His 1968 Dynabook is widely regarded as the conceptual basis of today’s notebooks; indeed, the first cardboard model of the machine featured a tablet-like form factor. And he went on to become part of a small team of computer scientists at Xerox (s XRX) PARC in the 70s that invented much of our current computer technology, including the graphical user interface that Steve Jobs famously fell in love with during a visit to the facility. I interviewed Kay late last year, and while he didn’t mention the tablet by name, he did share a story about the unveiling of the iPhone, to which Steve Jobs invited him in early 2007:

    “When the Mac first came out, Newsweek asked me what I [thought] of it. I said: Well, it’s the first personal computer worth criticizing. So at the end of the presentation, Steve came up to me and said: Is the iPhone worth criticizing? And I said: Make the screen five inches by eight inches, and you’ll rule the world.”


    https://gigaom.com/2010/01/26/alan-kay-with-the-tablet-apple-will-rule-the-world/


    And this:

    Computing pioneer Alan Kay calls Apple's iPad user interface 'poor'

    Asked if the Dynabook has not, in fact, been realized in the form of the notebook computer, tablet, and smartphone, Kay said he believes those devices largely miss the point. Apple's iPad — and the wider computing environment, by extension — falls short of the Dynabook's ideal, Kay says, since it lacks the capacity to enable "symmetric authoring and consuming." 

    Kay continued, calling Apple's restrictions on content creation and sharing on the iPad "mostly bogus," and saying that any potential security issues were the result of flaws in the OS. He also expressed disappointment in the progression of the human-computer interface since the development of the Graphical User Interface.
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/04/03/computing-pioneer-alan-kay-calls-apples-ipad-user-interface-poor


    Kay's remarks are apparently focused on the consumer and the learner (student).   IMO, Apple is going to get there (opening the OS and exploiting the hardware) real soon, now.   First it will be to satisfy the needs of IBM and its non-consumer customers.  Next, that will filter down to the consumer marketplace.


    edited March 2017
  • Reply 15 of 15
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 624member
    Great articles. I think that Apple has to reduce their restrictions on the iPad Pro and iOS if they want their vision of iPad computing to become real. The iPad Pro hardware is already good enough to take over the majority of people's needs for a laptop. But the weird software restrictions that Apple insists on are hindering its usefulness. I think the decision to buy Workflow might be a sign that Apple is loosening up.

    When Alan Kay says in the article is that security as an excuse for content creation limitations is "mostly bogus" and says it is the fault of the OS for having security issues I have to disagree. That notion unfortunately isn't realistic. Humans write the software and that means there will be mistakes. We don't live in an idealized world where Apple can just throw open the door for anyone to write software for iOS without restrictions. That computing model has been tried and it is a disaster for security and privacy. 

    Having said that, what is Apple's excuse for not allowing people an easy way to exchange Python source code from Pythonista. You have to jump through dumb hoops to install software. They can't allow Pythonista in the app store and block all access to source code so they can't stop people from distributing Python code outside of the app store. All they are doing is making a legitimate usage of a great professional app harder. It is completely ridiculous that you can use a Git tool like Working Copy in combination with Pythonista but Pythonista isn't allowed to have an Open in... share extension. But they can have a Run Pythonista Script share extension which allows you to work around the weird and useless restriction.

    Apple needs to stop restricting how their professional users use the iPad. 
    edited March 2017
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