Apple takes TSMC's whole 3nm production capacity for Mac, iPhone, iPad

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Industry sources claim that TSMC's initial production of chips built on the new 3-nanometer process have been ordered by Apple for use in both its iOS and Apple Silicon devices.

Chip wafers [via Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd.]
Chip wafers [via Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd.]


Following previous reports that TSMC was close to finalizing its new 3-nanometer process, a new report says that Apple has placed an order for its M-series and A-series processors using it.

According to Money.UDN, supply chain sources say that trials are progressing smoothly. The sources estimate that TSMC's 3nm line is on course to produce 600,000 processors annually, or 50,000 per month, with mass production starting in 2022.

Those numbers are presumably expected to increase, as the publication also reports an estimate that TSMC must sell at least 300 million processors to return a profit.

It's not reported how many units Apple has ordered, or over what precise timescale. However, the sources say that the order is chiefly for producing the M-series processors for the Mac.

Money.UDN also says that 3nm will be used for iPads and Macbook devices. Plus TSMC's new process will make future A-series processors for the iPhone. Previous rumors have said the 3nm process will be ready to make the "A16" chip in 2022.

Previously, TSMC has claimed that its 3nm process will provide a performance increase of between 10% and 15% over even its recent 5nm process. It's also said that 3nm chips will offer between 20% and 25% increased energy saving.

According to Money.UDN, TSMC has also been developing a 4nm process, which it will launch before the 3nm one. For both 3nm and 4nm, TSMC is directly competing with Samsung, however sources say TSMC will beat its rival to market by at least six months.

However, recently TSMC has reportedly been losing key staff to new rival firms. In what may be a move to build an independent processor industry in China, companies such as Quanxin Integrated Circuit Manufacturing (QXIC) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (HSMC) have hired over 50 former TSMC employees.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    "Those numbers are presumably expected to increase, as the publication also reports an estimate that TSMC must sell at least 300 million processors to return a profit."

    Wow. I wonder how many iPhones Apple needs to sell to make a profit? 7?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 38
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,475member
    How long till a Quantum SoC? And will my iPhone be quantum entangled with my mistress’s iPhone. Just asking.
    edited December 2020 TomPMRIbikerdudewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 38
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,439member
    I wonder if the lower sales volumes of Macs might mean that Macs could get 3nm SOCs before the iPhone? Apple can't launch an iPhone with production volume of 50k per month. But they can definitely launch an iMac with that production volume. 

    Might Macs become the leading edge?
    lolliverBart Ywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 38
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    lkrupp said:
    How long till a Quantum SoC? And will my iPhone be quantum entangled with my mistress’s iPhone. Just asking.
    Of course.... you've hit the nail on the head.  Plus, the Car will actually be a matter transporter.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 38
    kpomkpom Posts: 653member
    Are we sure that's not supposed to read 600,000 wafers annually, not processors?
    muthuk_vanalingamSpamSandwichtmayfrantisekrezwitswatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 38
    kpom said:
    Are we sure that's not supposed to read 600,000 wafers annually, not processors?
    You are right, it is wafers, not processors. And I am a novice on this topic, still being able to figure out this mistake. AI definitely needs an editor/proof reader before posting articles.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    kpom said:
    Are we sure that's not supposed to read 600,000 wafers annually, not processors?
    Your interpretation sounds more correct.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 38
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,433member
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.
    Beatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 38
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,439member
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    patchythepirateCloudTalkinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 38
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,433member
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    techconcwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 38
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,904member
    tmay said:
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    He was right. And he spelled out *initial* to make his point crystal clear. 

    Apple is not the only customer for 3nm. If it weren't for US extraterritorial 'sanctions' on Huawei, I can assure you that TSMC would be serving both Apple and Huawei in parallel. 

    Just like it has for the last few years now.

    And let's not forget what TSMC itself said about 3nm and Graphcore

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/16040/tsmc-and-graphcore-prepare-for-ai-acceleration-on-3nm
    edited December 2020 carthusiaCloudTalkin
  • Reply 12 of 38
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,763member
    tmay said:
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    If you're going to convolute that general term to fit a specific instance then the analogous "Apple can't have a monopoly over iPhones because iPhone is just a product" loses a lot of its edge.
    edited December 2020 elijahgCloudTalkin
  • Reply 13 of 38
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    tmay said:
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    Nope, you can't just make up a market to fit your argument. That's the kind of shit that Epic is trying to pull.
    BeatsCloudTalkinwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 38
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,532member
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    You're just begging for some idiot to claim "Anti-competitive!!!"
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 38
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,532member
    avon b7 said:
    tmay said:
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    He was right. And he spelled out *initial* to make his point crystal clear. 

    Apple is not the only customer for 3nm. If it weren't for US extraterritorial 'sanctions' on Huawei, I can assure you that TSMC would be serving both Apple and Huawei in parallel. 

    Just like it has for the last few years now.

    And let's not forget what TSMC itself said about 3nm and Graphcore

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/16040/tsmc-and-graphcore-prepare-for-ai-acceleration-on-3nm

    When should we expect the knockoff AirPods Max from Huawei to come out?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 38
    thttht Posts: 4,042member
    blastdoor said:
    I wonder if the lower sales volumes of Macs might mean that Macs could get 3nm SOCs before the iPhone? Apple can't launch an iPhone with production volume of 50k per month. But they can definitely launch an iMac with that production volume. 

    Might Macs become the leading edge?
    Doubtful. AI wrote a strange article here. They aren't launching iMacs with 50k processors per month either. If it was wafers, maybe, but doubtful from a risk perspective there.

    TSMC 3 nm is in risk production or pilot production for the next 18 months or so. They will not be ready to have mass production until 2022. If the schedule is on time, I would expect the A16 SoC for iPhones and iPads to be the first out the door. Mac silicon would continue to use TSMC 5nm or the TSMC 4nm in 2021 and 2022, and maybe the first 3nm Mac silicon in late 2022, basically like this year.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 38
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,904member
    Beats said:
    avon b7 said:
    tmay said:
    blastdoor said:
    tmay said:
    Apple is a monopsony in silicon.

    monopsony definition

    "A market situation in which there is only one buyer."


    I'm loving that Apple can do that, and I'm guessing that everyone else goes to Samsung.

    That's a good vocabulary word for people to know, but Apple isn't a monopsonist in silicon (though they do have some market power). There are multiple suppliers (TSMC, GloFo, Samsung, and Intel) and multiple buyers (Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD, and Intel). 

    It's true that TSMC is the biggest supplier and Apple is the biggest buyer. It's true Apple might be (according to this article) taking all of the *initial* 3nm production from TSMC.  That's not a small thing. But it's a long, long way from "Apple has a monopsony in silicon." 
    ...of leading edge silicon...which TMSC 3nm node would be.
    He was right. And he spelled out *initial* to make his point crystal clear. 

    Apple is not the only customer for 3nm. If it weren't for US extraterritorial 'sanctions' on Huawei, I can assure you that TSMC would be serving both Apple and Huawei in parallel. 

    Just like it has for the last few years now.

    And let's not forget what TSMC itself said about 3nm and Graphcore

    https://www.anandtech.com/show/16040/tsmc-and-graphcore-prepare-for-ai-acceleration-on-3nm

    When should we expect the knockoff AirPods Max from Huawei to come out?
    Oops! The Freebuds Studio were released before the AirPods Max. 

    I suppose by your own wacky definition, the Max are in fact a knockoff of the Freebuds! 

    Isn't that how you see things?

    I'm kidding. I hope you can laugh at yourself from time to time. 
  • Reply 18 of 38
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 554member
    50k processors per month on a bleeding-edge fab tech might be enough for the Mac Pro. Definitely not enough for anything more mainstream.

    As an aside, TSMC uses wafers 300mm in diameter in most of its fab processes. That's 70,685mm^2. The A14 is 88mm^2. You lose about 6% of the area of a wafer to the edges and unmasked regions for handling. That means very roughly 750 A14 processors per wafer (before you lose some to flaws). 50k processors per month at that density would be about two wafers per day. That's believable preview volume for a bleeding-edge fab process while the fab works on scaling it out effectively.
    frantisekBart Ymuthuk_vanalingampatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 38
    jccjcc Posts: 300member
    I don't know why people are not concerned about the red Chinese hiring away TSMC blue Chinese engineers. No one here seems to be concerned that China is about to become technologically superior to us in advanced semiconductor production. They already beat us in infrastructure building. Just how many industries will we continue to lose before we wake the f&^k up? Later, they can just cut us off from their supply and there won't be a damn thing we can do about it since we're too dumb to produce any here in the U.S.
    rezwitspatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 38
    According to what I have read, Samsung is 1 quarter behind TSMC, not 6 months. But that is academic anyway. Apple always comes out with devices featuring their new chips in September. Devices with the new Qualcomm and Samsung chips debut a few weeks later in November (except when midrange Samsung Exynos devices at times launch a bit earlier than the new iPhones). So the 3nm A16 would be first sold in iPhones and iPads that debut September 2022. While some obscure midrange 3nm Android devices may launch at about the same time or even slightly earlier, the flagship 3nm Android phones will launch starting with the Chinese brands in December 2022 and the rest in 2023.

    Also, who would be the other buyers for TSMC's 5nm process anyway? MediaTek avoids the latest process nodes in order to save money. Their best 2021 chips will use a 6nm process and their 2023 ones a 4nm. While Qualcomm prefers TSMC, going back to Samsung is fine for them, as it would be for Huawei - presuming they are allowed to buy chips again - also. AMD's 5nm chips won't launch until 4Q 2021 meaning their 3nm versions won't until 4Q 2023. As for Intel, as they are considering having Samsung make their first batch of 7nm chips in 2021 (Intel would prefer TSMC but TSMC's 7nm nodes are fully occupied with chips for Qualcomm, MediaTek and AMD right now) they may be ready for 5nm by 2023. 

    So even were Apple to have exclusive access to TSMC's 3nm process for all of 2022, that statement isn't very meaningful anyway: Apple, Qualcomm and Samsung are going to be the only swimmers in that pool, and Samsung will make the 3nm chips for Qualcomm and themselves. That will be the same situation as with the 5nm this year. The first 5nm chip was actually supposed to be the Samsung Exynos 995, which was going to be in certain international Galaxy Note 20, Galaxy Fold 2 and Galaxy Flip 2 phones as well as all Galaxy S20 Fan Edition phones. Samsung suffered a setback at the last stage resulting in bad yields and the 995 was cancelled. However, Samsung did release the 5nm Exynos 1080 midrange chip in a Vivo phone 3 weeks after the iPhone 12's release.
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