Apple partner TSMC begins mass production of 7nm processors for next-generation iPhone

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in iPhone
Apple's system-on-chip manufacturing partner TSMC is churning out next-generation 7-nanometer "A12" processors that will power iPhones expected to launch later this year, according to a report on Tuesday.




Citing sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reports TSMC recently started mass production of next-gen iPhone processors ahead of an anticipated release this fall.

In April, reports claimed TSMC was preparing to fulfill orders for Apple's "A12" SoC using the firm's 7-nanometer process. The chipmaker later confirmed a start to production, but declined to disclose Apple as its customer.

Apple's next-generation "A12" design will be the first 7-nanometer A-series chip. Current processors, like the A11 Bionic powering iPhone 8 and iPhone X, are built using a 10-nanometer process.

Shrinking the die size typically results in a number of benefits including an increase in transistor density, which in turn boosts efficiency and processing power. The smaller chips also afford more space on iPhone's already cramped logic board, a key consideration for increasingly capable portable devices.

TSMC is thought to apply in-house developed InFO wafer-level packaging to its 7-nanometer FinFET technology, a combination said to be more advanced than offerings from competitor Samsung. The Korean tech giant and smartphone rival previously served as Apple's exclusive A-series manufacturer, but the iPhone maker over the past couple years shifted to TSMC.

Reports early this year suggest TSMC secured all of Apple's "A12" orders, once again ousting Samsung from the silicon supply chain. Samsung said it plans to begin production of its own 7-nanometer chips this year, parts that will likely end up in first-party smartphones shortly thereafter.

Apple is widely expected to launch three iPhone models in 2018. Anchored by a 6.1-inch LCD variant, the lineup is rumored to include two OLED models in a 5.8-inch "iPhone X 2" and larger 6.5-inch "iPhone X Plus." While the lower rung model is speculated to carry over mature hardware, this year's top-tier OLED handsets are expected to feature advanced technology like the TrueDepth camera system that powers Face ID on iPhone X.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Alex1NAlex1N Posts: 37member
    Bloomberg, the crowd that reported that the iPhone X was DoA. Still, interesting IF true.
    Avieshekmattinozuniscapewatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 975member
    Widely expected by people who've been off kilt of late.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    This makes Apple one step closer to the day they ditch Samsung once and for all. Displays are next.m
  • Reply 4 of 12
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    What I want to know is where is the A11X and the iPad upgrades.   Makes me wonder if Apple will skip A11X on the iPads for an A12 variant.   To put it another way I really don't care all that much about the ""next"" iphone, but I really want to see revised iPads soon.
    mattinozentropystmaysmalmjony0Alex1N
  • Reply 5 of 12
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,666member
    nunzy said:
    This makes Apple one step closer to the day they ditch Samsung once and for all. Displays are next.m
    The only thing Apple cares about is getting the best tech possible.   If Samsungs next process beats out TSMC you can be sure Apple will be back in bed with Samsung.   Or they could go with Global Foundries if they all of a sudden had a superior process.    Right now Apple needs bleeding edge semiconductor processes to keep the new tech flowing into the i devices.   

    The one thing this article misses completely is that these process shrinks have a dramatic impact on the number of transistors they can pack into a chip and thus the functionality.   We could see all sorts of things happen with that extra space.   The possibilities include Apples first WiFi modem processor, Greatly expanded AI processing hardware, Advanced GPU's, on chip fast RAM for the GPU.   There are all sorts of possibilities but the point here is that they are only possible with the process shrinks that offer up far more die space.

    I may not care one way or the other what the next iPhone looks like or does, but I find the tech going into these devices to be fascinating.
    propodd_2nunzyAlex1N
  • Reply 6 of 12
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 857member
    Wallet open and waiting.
  • Reply 7 of 12
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,386member
    wizard69 said:
    nunzy said:
    This makes Apple one step closer to the day they ditch Samsung once and for all. Displays are next.m
    The only thing Apple cares about is getting the best tech possible.   If Samsungs next process beats out TSMC you can be sure Apple will be back in bed with Samsung.   Or they could go with Global Foundries if they all of a sudden had a superior process.    Right now Apple needs bleeding edge semiconductor processes to keep the new tech flowing into the i devices.   

    The one thing this article misses completely is that these process shrinks have a dramatic impact on the number of transistors they can pack into a chip and thus the functionality.   We could see all sorts of things happen with that extra space.   The possibilities include Apples first WiFi modem processor, Greatly expanded AI processing hardware, Advanced GPU's, on chip fast RAM for the GPU.   There are all sorts of possibilities but the point here is that they are only possible with the process shrinks that offer up far more die space.

    I may not care one way or the other what the next iPhone looks like or does, but I find the tech going into these devices to be fascinating.
    I'd like to see FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology find it's way into an A series SOC, if nothing else but to see what Apple could do with it for AR, video, and imaging.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,386member
    wizard69 said:
    What I want to know is where is the A11X and the iPad upgrades.   Makes me wonder if Apple will skip A11X on the iPads for an A12 variant.   To put it another way I really don't care all that much about the ""next"" iphone, but I really want to see revised iPads soon.
    Slightly off topic;
     
    https://seekingalpha.com/article/4151376-tsmc-intel-lead-semiconductor-processes

    Apple again is TMSC volume customer, Intel is falling behind, and Qualcomm is partnering with Samsung on 7nm sort of for political reasons.

    I haven't a clue what is going on with iPad Pro, but my suspicion is that Apple priced the iPad to be a big seller, and is going to put even more muscle into the iPad Pro's to extend the high end price/performance.


    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member
    tmay said:
    wizard69 said:
    nunzy said:
    This makes Apple one step closer to the day they ditch Samsung once and for all. Displays are next.m
    The only thing Apple cares about is getting the best tech possible.   If Samsungs next process beats out TSMC you can be sure Apple will be back in bed with Samsung.   Or they could go with Global Foundries if they all of a sudden had a superior process.    Right now Apple needs bleeding edge semiconductor processes to keep the new tech flowing into the i devices.   

    The one thing this article misses completely is that these process shrinks have a dramatic impact on the number of transistors they can pack into a chip and thus the functionality.   We could see all sorts of things happen with that extra space.   The possibilities include Apples first WiFi modem processor, Greatly expanded AI processing hardware, Advanced GPU's, on chip fast RAM for the GPU.   There are all sorts of possibilities but the point here is that they are only possible with the process shrinks that offer up far more die space.

    I may not care one way or the other what the next iPhone looks like or does, but I find the tech going into these devices to be fascinating.
    I'd like to see FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) technology find it's way into an A series SOC, if nothing else but to see what Apple could do with it for AR, video, and imaging.
    FPGA is super niche and probably doesn't make any sense at all in any Apple product, even the Mac Pro, and definitely not for the applications you mention. 

    For AR, video, imaging, and perhaps also AI, it makes more sense to do exactly what Apple is already doing for those applications -- include customized units dedicated to those tasks. An FPGA would be *less* efficient than the customized units that are already there. 
    Alex1N
  • Reply 10 of 12
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,888member

    wizard69 said:
    What I want to know is where is the A11X and the iPad upgrades.   Makes me wonder if Apple will skip A11X on the iPads for an A12 variant.   To put it another way I really don't care all that much about the ""next"" iphone, but I really want to see revised iPads soon.
    Recall that the A10X came out in June 2017 on 10nm (not the 16nm used for the A10). 

    Perhaps something similar will happen with the A11X. Or, maybe Apple will just use a higher clocked A12 for the iPad Pro. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 12
    Apple is KICKING ASS with their chips. Very exciting to learn what they have in store for us soon.
  • Reply 12 of 12
    wizard69 said:
    What I want to know is where is the A11X and the iPad upgrades.   Makes me wonder if Apple will skip A11X on the iPads for an A12 variant.   To put it another way I really don't care all that much about the ""next"" iphone, but I really want to see revised iPads soon.
    My guess would be that they're skipping an X version for the A11 and doing an A12X. 
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
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