Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chip maker, is in the early stage of development and testing of manufacturing processes in preparation for Apple’s next-generation A12 chips for 2018 iPhones.

According to an industry source who spoke with Japanese outlet Nikkei Asian Review today, the Cupertino firm “has already begun to engage TSMC to develop and test core processor chips for the iPhone range coming out in 2018.”

TSMC’s been making chips based on Apple’s blueprints for several years now as Apple has been cutting its reliance on Samsung’s semiconductor foundry services.

It plans to start seven-nanometer chip production in the first quarter of 2018. By comparison, Samsung said it would introduce seven-nanometer chips by the end of 2018.

TSMC has some 470 customers worldwide.

They also announced Friday an upcoming $15.7 billion production facility in the Tainan Science Park in southern Taiwan, solely dedicated to churning out three-nanometer chips.

The pricey factory will sprawl 50-80 hectares and the company plans to launch production there as early as 2022. For context, a hectare is roughly the equivalent of a soccer field.

The announcement has reaffirmed TSMC’s claims late last year that it would pour considerable resources into developing three-nanometer process technology and conducting research on an ultra-thin two-nanometer technology.

The smaller the nanometer size, the more advanced the chip, but also the more challenging to develop. TSM produces Apple-designed A10 and A11 processors on its respective 16-nanometer and ten-nanometer FinFET nodes.

The iPhone maker has become TSMC’s largest client since 2015, accounting for seventeen percent of TSMC’s revenue for all 2016. Apple’s contribution to the chip giant’s bottom line would exceed twenty percent for all 2017, according to projection by Hong Kong-based research firm Sanford C. Bernstein.

Read more about Apple’s rise as a semiconductor superpower in the making.

Image: TSMC’s facility in Taiwan.

  • iOS Kush

    Well damn, 2018 is around the corner is it even worth getting the iPhone X?

    • Gest2016

      The premise of your comment being that the only thing that determines how good a phone is is its speed. This in fact has been less and less of a factor and a newer chip in the iPhone X won’t made any difference at all in how you use or experience it.

      • iOS Kush

        Not worried about speed. I just know new chip means new iPhone and the iPhone X isn’t even available yet. Ive been holding off on getting a new one since iPhone 6 Plus.

    • nonchalont

      Yeah seriously, because you know the face ID is only going to get better as the years proceed, but you know Apple only does incremental updates to phones. You’ll be okay with getting the X. I like to upgrade my phone every 4-5 years. I’m still rocking the 5s. Now that the 5s is on its limbs (bottom of the totem pole with iOS updates), I’m going to upgrade to the 8 or X …depending how the X reviews go. I’m really going to appreciate the 8 or X, because I’m sure it’s heck of a lot different than the 5s lol.

  • racerhomie

    Wait until you die.
    Or just get the X .