Yield problems at TSMC could disrupt March launch for new iPads - report

Posted:
in iPad edited December 2016
Apple chip supplier TSMC is encountering lower-than-expected yield rates for its new 10-nanometer manufacturing process, something that could potentially delay the launch of new iPads in March, a report claimed on Friday.




TSMC is hoping to start mass-producing "A10X" processors for new iPads early next year, but poor yields could interfere with schedules, sources informed DigiTimes. Apple needs to build up inventories for any given product launch, and low chip supplies can make that take longer.

Notably, however, Apple has never scaled to a more efficient manufacturing process solely for an "X" chip. With both the A9 and A9X for instance, Apple stuck largely to 16 nanometers, though some A9s were 14-nanometer models.

That could cast doubt on the DigiTimes report, especially given the publication's mixed track record with Apple products. At the same time, switching to 10 nanometers for an A10X would make the chip more efficient and/or save space, something crucial for keeping an iPad's weight down.

Apple is rumored to be launching three iPads next quarter: updated 9.7- and 12.9-inch models, and plus a new 10.5-inch format. Only the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models will allegedly use the A10X, turning the 9.7-inch tablet into a budget option.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    That 10.5 inch iPad might need a cooler chip though. Just like the special iPhone, previous experience may not be very predictive.

    if they are delayed, it might help my wallet because I'm in the market for an iPad Pro and a Nintendo Switch ... or two! Not sure how that'll work out. :P
  • Reply 2 of 42
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    ty24hourschiabaconstangstanthemanksecGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 3 of 42
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    It could if the 10nm process improves battery efficiency to the point that a smaller battery could be used while keeping use time at the 10 hour mark. Smaller battery = less weight. 
    stanthemanjony0
  • Reply 4 of 42
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 601member
    "a report claimed"....."sources informed DigiTimes"......enough said
    edited December 2016 StrangeDayspscooter63
  • Reply 5 of 42
    crudman said:
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    It could if the 10nm process improves battery efficiency to the point that a smaller battery could be used while keeping use time at the 10 hour mark. Smaller battery = less weight. 
    Prior reports have said the iPads will be increasing thickness this year anyway (likely to make the camera flush again). And the SOC isn't the biggest power draw, the display is by far. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 6 of 42
    sog35 said:
    BULLSHIT
    I am not chip expert but I would agree. It would be strange when Apple would make A10 in 14nm and A10X in 10nm. A11 is expected to be 10 nm.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    I still think Apple needs to buy or build its own fab. This seems to be the weak link in its chain. It's need for silicon is not going to go away. As Kennedy said: "we don't do this because it's easy, but because it's hard." I'd have rather seen this than more stores and a big headquarters.
    stevenoz
  • Reply 8 of 42
    sog35 said:
    BULLSHIT
    What's bullshit? The initial production yields of the 10nm processors or that the next iPad Pro will utilize 10nm processors?
  • Reply 9 of 42
    frantisek said:
    sog35 said:
    BULLSHIT
    I am not chip expert but I would agree. It would be strange when Apple would make A10 in 14nm and A10X in 10nm. A11 is expected to be 10 nm.
    Why? 10 nm wasn't available at the time for the iPhone 7 but it is now, and it also makes sense to start using it on a 'low' volume product such as the iPad or Watch if yields are low.
    baconstangstantheman
  • Reply 10 of 42
    crudman said:
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    It could if the 10nm process improves battery efficiency to the point that a smaller battery could be used while keeping use time at the 10 hour mark. Smaller battery = less weight. 
    Prior reports have said the iPads will be increasing thickness this year anyway (likely to make the camera flush again). And the SOC isn't the biggest power draw, the display is by far. 
    You're suggesting apple is going to make the ipads thicker just to make the camera ring go away? Like how they never did on the iphone?
    ai46watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,189member
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    You're saying that the exact same design using a smaller process node and increased transistor density will not necessarily result in a physically smaller chip?

    The A5 is what Apple using in the original iPad 2. It was a 45nm die. The A5R2, a revision of the iPad 2 after the iPad 3 had launched, moved to a 32nm die. This was likely to test the process in a low yield capacity. As you can see, it significantly shrunk the size of the chip. The area is reduced by a little more than 50% due to the smaller transistors.


    edited December 2016 pscooter63chiaty@icloudbaconstang
  • Reply 12 of 42

    I still think Apple needs to buy or build its own fab. This seems to be the weak link in its chain. It's need for silicon is not going to go away. As Kennedy said: "we don't do this because it's easy, but because it's hard." I'd have rather seen this than more stores and a big headquarters.
    Pretty sure Apple is a better gauge of what they need. They were too big for their old HQ and needed to expand. Stores are their profit drivers and a big part of how they make money. 
    ai46watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 42
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    I don't buy the details; either it's an A10X at 14 nm or it's an A11X at 10 nm since Apple has the resources to optimize the architecture to the 10 nm node. 

    Even if Apple has rumored plans for a 10.2 inch reduced bezel iPad Pro requiring a SOC at 10nm, why would they scale the existing architecture to 10nm? Apple would opt for an optimized architecture, especially when it comes to the GPU.
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 14 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,189member
    tmay said:
    I don't buy the details; either it's an A10X at 14 nm or it's an A11X at 10 nm since Apple has the resources to optimize the architecture to the 10 nm node. 

    Even if Apple has rumored plans for a 10.2 inch reduced bezel iPad Pro requiring a SOC at 10nm, why would they scale the existing architecture to 10nm? Apple would opt for an optimized architecture, especially when it comes to the GPU.
    I would expect an A11 or A11X, but we have evidence of Apple using an older design with a new process node in the iPad 2,4.
  • Reply 15 of 42
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    Lol, wut??
    Ummmm.... hard to understand how you could possibly believe this!
    Sooooooo, to be clear: you believe that the processor in the new 9.7" iPad Pro is precisely the same size as the processor in the original 9.7" iPad, but it just runs more efficiently??
    Huh. Try googling "die shrink".
    Not only is it the fact that more transistors can be packed in, and the power needs reducing, but another HUGE benefit is the fact that many more die can be cut from the same size piece of silicon.

    TLDR; using smaller nm chip processes does indeed yield smaller processors!!!
  • Reply 16 of 42
    Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure.

    Any way for us readers to automatically opt out of any DigiTimes related posts in the future? It's an embarrassment that this DigiTimes drivel continue to be treated as anything other than clickbait.
    pscooter63
  • Reply 17 of 42
    ty24hours said:
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    Lol, wut??
    Ummmm.... hard to understand how you could possibly believe this!
    Sooooooo, to be clear: you believe that the processor in the new 9.7" iPad Pro is precisely the same size as the processor in the original 9.7" iPad, but it just runs more efficiently??
    Huh. Try googling "die shrink".
    Not only is it the fact that more transistors can be packed in, and the power needs reducing, but another HUGE benefit is the fact that many more die can be cut from the same size piece of silicon.

    TLDR; using smaller nm chip processes does indeed yield smaller processors!!!
    Jokes on you, the A9X is huge. Try getting informed genius. Nearly every iPad SOC has been larger than the original A4. 
    tmay
  • Reply 18 of 42
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    ty24hours said:
    14nm vs 10nm isn't going to 'save space' in an iPad. Manufacturing process has nothing to do with physical chip size. 
    Lol, wut??
    Ummmm.... hard to understand how you could possibly believe this!
    Sooooooo, to be clear: you believe that the processor in the new 9.7" iPad Pro is precisely the same size as the processor in the original 9.7" iPad, but it just runs more efficiently??
    Huh. Try googling "die shrink".
    Not only is it the fact that more transistors can be packed in, and the power needs reducing, but another HUGE benefit is the fact that many more die can be cut from the same size piece of silicon.

    TLDR; using smaller nm chip processes does indeed yield smaller processors!!!
    The physical size of the package would be almost inperceptively smaller, but I doubt that Apple would do a die shrink at all.
  • Reply 19 of 42
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member

    Soli said:
    tmay said:
    I don't buy the details; either it's an A10X at 14 nm or it's an A11X at 10 nm since Apple has the resources to optimize the architecture to the 10 nm node. 

    Even if Apple has rumored plans for a 10.2 inch reduced bezel iPad Pro requiring a SOC at 10nm, why would they scale the existing architecture to 10nm? Apple would opt for an optimized architecture, especially when it comes to the GPU.
    I would expect an A11 or A11X, but we have evidence of Apple using an older design with a new process node in the iPad 2,4.
    Still, Apple has the resources so that they don't have to do a die shrink.
  • Reply 20 of 42
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,162member
    Fake news to manipulate AAPL.
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