TSMC exec says Apple leading move to 64-bit smartphone chips, hints A8 chip production


Apple is responsible for the mobile industry’s move to 64-bit processors within smartphones after it announced the iPhone 5s in September, according to Mark Liu, co-CEO of major chip company TSMC.

This is something many industry pundits have been whispering for sometime, so it’s interesting to hear from such a higher-up in the chip business. Liu, speaking at a TSMC quarterly results meeting, said it pretty bluntly…

“If you observe the mobile device industry, in the past six months we do see the…conversion to 64-bit [in processors] after the Apple [64-bit A7 processor] announcement,” Liu said, according to CNET.

Apple was the first smartphone manufacturer to ship a 64-bit chip in a smartphone thanks to the A7 processor in the iPhone 5s, which includes a dual-core architecture and GPU within the design of the chip. Qualcomm quickly followed Apple’s A7 announcement months later, when it showed off its line of Snapdragon 810 and 808 processors with built-in LTE due out in Android smartphones in early-2015.

“The 64-bit Apple chip hit us in the gut,” one Qualcomm employee was quoted as saying in December. “Not just us, but everyone, really. We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared.”

“Starting in the second half of 2014, we expect 64-bit ARM application processors and central processing unit upgrades for smartphones and the micro server market, due to better cost, improved power and thermal performance, and enhanced speed,” said Andrew Lu, an Asia-Pacific semiconductor analyst at Barclays, in April.

Liu told investors at the TSMC conference on Thursday that big changes are under way at the chip maker – an interesting comment given the company is rumored to be one of the suppliers for the A8 chip tipped for the iPhone 6 this fall.

Executives from TSMC added that demand for chips in the second quarter is “unseasonably strong”, which would make sense if iPhone 6 production was starting early.