TSMC establishing 10nm pilot line to build A10 chips for iPhone 7

TSMC (Taiwan facility 001)

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, is apparently scheduled to finish its 10-nanometer pilot production line by the end of June, with Taiwanese media suggesting that the new facilities will churn out an Apple-designed ‘A10’ processor said to power an ‘iPhone 7’ and other iOS devices due in 2016.

According to a pair of reports by Taiwan-based UDN (here and here), TSMC will establish a 10-nanometer pilot line in a total of twelve factories located in Taiwan’s Hsinchu.

Apparently, the company already started a semiconductor intellectual property program, with the goal of signing up Apple by the end of the year.

This year’s iPhone and iPad refreshes should be powered by an Apple-designed A9 processor. An ‘A10’ processor is likely the engine that will power next year’s iOS devices.

A month ago, UDN reported that Foxconn CEO Terry Gou used his influence to persuade Apple to give TSMC a piece of the action.

Gou has reportedly lobbied on behalf of TSMC because he thinks Taiwanese manufacturers should work more closely together to fend off the growing threat of Samsung and its semiconductor business.

Though Apple has hoped to rely more heavily on TSMC for A9 orders to reduce its dependency on Samsung, with whom the iPhone maker is entangled in lawsuits around the world, Re/code recently said that Samsung will manufacture the vast majority of A9 chips on its 14nm FinFET process technology.

As it turns out, TSMC should reportedly account for about 25 percent of A9 orders.

But with TSMC pouring big money into new 10-nanometer plants, industry watchers in Taiwan are predicting that if TSMC will have its factories up and running in due time, the company could acquire all of the A10 orders.

Photo: TSMC’s Hsinchu Science and Industrial Park in Taiwan.

Source: UDN via G for Games