Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s largest independent chip foundry, has set aside a research and development budget for this year of a record-setting $2.2 billion in order to ensure its fabrication process technology stays ahead of competition, said a report this morning in Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes. In 2015, the firm spent just $1.067 billion on R&D.
Along with Samsung, TSMC currently churns out Apple-designed A9 and A9X processors for the latest iPhones and iPads, and is said to have secured orders for an ‘A10’ system-on-a-chip that Apple is expected to use in the iPhone 7 and other iOS devices to be refreshed this year.
The road to 7-nanometer chips
TSMC co-CEO Mark Liu reiterated that his company would become the industry’s first chipmaker to certify its highly advanced seven-nanometer process technology. This cutting-edge tech is expected to serve as the basis for a next-generation Apple processor that should power an ‘iPhone 8’, according to previous reports.
TSMC’s 7nm process currently has 30-40 percent yield for 128MB SRAM.
As for the firm’s ten-nanometer node technology, that one should move to volume production by 2017, with twelve-inch wafers of 10nm chips to be fabricated at TSMC’s Phase-5 and 6 facilities at Fab 15.
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TSMC aims to improve design productivity and shorten design cycles, according to Liu. With 220 production technologies, TSMC processed more than 8.7 million wafers in 2015 with total shipments exceeding one billion chips.
In addition to manufacturing chips for Apple, TSMC is regularly commissioned by other consumer electronics companies for chip work. In addition, the company is heavily invested in wireless and Internet of Things chips and silicon for automotive electronics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D image capture.
Working with Apple
Another DigiTimes report claimed that TSMC has succeeded in taping out an Apple-designed ‘A11’ chip that will power 2017 iPhones and iPads.
The term “taping out” refers to the completion of a chip’s initial design, which paves the way for the creation of photomasks used to print the actual chips.