Apple chip supplier TSMC says 7nm tech entering mass production in first half of 2018

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2016
One of Apple's primary chip manufacturers, TSMC, confirmed in a Tuesday report to shareholders that it plans to trial 7-nanometer production in the first half of next year, working towards mass production in the first half of 2018.




The company already has over 20 customers interested in the 7-nanometer technology, and 15 of them should have chip designs taped out for manufacturing in 2017, according to co-CEO Mark Liu, quoted by DigiTimes. It's not clear whether Apple might be one of them.

The new process is however expected to be applied to mobile processors, and TSMC is currently manufacturing Apple's A9 and A9X chips, though some A9 orders are being handled by Samsung. TSMC could become the sole producer of "A10" chips for devices rolling out later this year.

Apple could theoretically use 7-nanometer processors in an "iPhone 8" shipping in late 2018, but the company might have to settle for 10-nanometer designs instead, depending on the state and scale of TSMC's capacity by the time Apple is lining up orders. The intense global demand for Apple products means that a supplier will often have to go full-tilt to complete orders.

For comparison, A9 chips use 14- or 16-nanometer designs -- depending on whether they're manufactured by Samsung or TSMC, respectively. Smaller chips should allow not just for more compact devices, but better power efficiency.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,568member
    More power to TSMC for 7nm 2018 1st half mass production. But, but I doubt it strongly based on history. Hard to believe Apple processor will follow path of 16nm iphone 6s,7, 10nm iphone 8 and 7nm iphone 9. Three node changes in 3 years. Possible is 10nm iphone 8,9 and 7nm iphone 10.
    edited April 2016 cali
  • Reply 2 of 9
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    In 2018 Apple will ship the iPhone 8, not iPhone 9, if their historical naming pattern continues. 
  • Reply 3 of 9
    Perhaps TSMC won't have the capacity to meet iPhone demand for the 7 nm chip, but Apple could stimulate healthy demand for the Watch by building a 7 nm S series CPU with InFO. Such a chip would allow for power savings and performance unheard of in a diminutive chip. 

    I would definitely purchase such a device. 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 4 of 9
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    I just wanna see TSMC make more money from Apple than Sammy. So that the copycat will have less for R&D
    radarthekatbrakken
  • Reply 5 of 9
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    I think we have about reached the end of the road with silicon. Moore's law is no more. We are going to need a smaller atom to continue shrinking the chips. 
    wonkothesane
  • Reply 6 of 9
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    According to Samsung, 7nm and smaller will most likely need something other than silicon, like Gaa, so I think TSMC is being very brave predicting such a close time-frame.
    baconstang
  • Reply 7 of 9
    There are a number of technologies being developed that will continue to shrink the size of transistors. The SET or single electron transistor is quite intriguing. You can read about it here:

    https://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/5666-single-electron-transistors;-single-answer.html?s=a2a42cb36c16a51453eae83f93516e0a

    As far as 7 nm silicon, TSMC is going to get there first. To make matters worse for their competitors, TSMC is developing a node for mobile processors, but they are also developing a high performance 7 nm node. It might potentially mean that a high performance ARM CPU might be in the works. Perhaps it means that the process will be used for Nvidia GPUs and perhaps AMD's latest x86 CPU. 

    I just don't see enough x86 volume from a non-Intel x86 developer, meaning AMD essentially, to justify such an undertaking by TSMC. And the market for discrete GPUs just isn't that big these days. Perhaps AR/VR will become much bigger than I foresee, but I still think it's going to be a niche. 

    I have a nagging suspicion that Apple has something much larger in store. Especially with Qualcomm commiting to using Samsung fabs. 

    Samsung has also big plans for FD-SOI and those developments will likely go into Qualcomm modems. 

    There are some major developments coming for the ARM platform. Intel is in serious trouble. Every bit as bad as AMD has had it for the past decade and likely worse. And if Microsoft doesn't migrate Windows to ARM soon, they are going to be in serious trouble also. There is absolutely no doubt about it now. ARM has all of the momentum these days. It's going to take a miracle for Intel to get back into the game. 
  • Reply 8 of 9
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    A 7nm A12, would likely cover 99% of the needs of current users, even those using legacy X86 (through emulation, most of those apps are not workhorses), except the very high end will be able to be done on this.

    Intel by then better have some kick ass mobile solutions they'll be in deep doo doo.
  • Reply 9 of 9
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,556member
    There are a number of technologies being developed that will continue to shrink the size of transistors. The SET or single electron transistor is quite intriguing. You can read about it here:

    https://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/5666-single-electron-transistors;-single-answer.html?s=a2a42cb36c16a51453eae83f93516e0a

    As far as 7 nm silicon, TSMC is going to get there first. To make matters worse for their competitors, TSMC is developing a node for mobile processors, but they are also developing a high performance 7 nm node. It might potentially mean that a high performance ARM CPU might be in the works. Perhaps it means that the process will be used for Nvidia GPUs and perhaps AMD's latest x86 CPU. 

    I just don't see enough x86 volume from a non-Intel x86 developer, meaning AMD essentially, to justify such an undertaking by TSMC. And the market for discrete GPUs just isn't that big these days. Perhaps AR/VR will become much bigger than I foresee, but I still think it's going to be a niche. 

    I have a nagging suspicion that Apple has something much larger in store. Especially with Qualcomm commiting to using Samsung fabs. 

    Samsung has also big plans for FD-SOI and those developments will likely go into Qualcomm modems. 

    There are some major developments coming for the ARM platform. Intel is in serious trouble. Every bit as bad as AMD has had it for the past decade and likely worse. And if Microsoft doesn't migrate Windows to ARM soon, they are going to be in serious trouble also. There is absolutely no doubt about it now. ARM has all of the momentum these days. It's going to take a miracle for Intel to get back into the game. 
    Looking forward to operating my next-gem laptops using SETs at 3 degrees Kelvin ;) But aeriously, the tech sounds interesting even if 2nm at RT still appears to be a mile off. Thx for the link. 
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