A10 Fusion chip

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), which builds Apple’s in-house designed A10 Fusion chip that powers the iPhone 7, has confirmed mass production of ten-nanometer chips for clients will kick off by year-end, beating Intel by almost a year in terms of high-performance silicon.

Chip maker Intel’s own ten-nanometer chips are due in second half of 2017.

Speaking at a tech symposium in the northern Taiwanese city of Hsinchu, TSMC CEO Mark Liu said that his company recently started research and development (R&D) work for a cutting-edge five-nanomenter process technology, Nikkei reported Friday.

The semiconductor foundry will also start trial production of seven-nanometer chips in small quantities in the first quarter of 2017. It’s recently started work on five-nanometer chips and has assigned 300 to 400 engineers to develop a three-nanometer technology.

Plus, TSMC is currently researching a two-nanometer process.

TSMC’s R&D budget increased substantially from $690 million in 2009 to $2.1 billion in 2015. For all of 2016, it’s allocated $10 billion for capital expenditure.

TSMC built the A9 chip along with Samsung and is exclusively producing the latest A10 Fusion chip for the iPhone 7 on its 16-nanometer process. The company is also rumored to have secured a contract to build ‘A11’ chips for 2017 iPhones.

Were Apple to swap out Intel in Macs for in-house designed CPUs based on iPhone and iPad chips, as it’s been suggested, TSMC’s should have its sophisticated manufacturing technology ready to make it happen and help Apple beat Intel at its own game.

Source: Nikkei