TSMC is believed to have secured orders for an Apple-designed ‘A11’ system-on-a-chip expected to power so-called Tenth Anniversary iPhone and new iPads in 2017, trade publication DigiTimes reports. The chip should be fabricated on TSMC’s ten-nanometer process technology and use its backend integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging technology. Additionally, TSMC should build Apple-designed circuitry to drive 2017 iPhone’s AMOLED panel.
The iPhone’s touch and display driver circuitry is currently supplied by Renesas SP Drivers, now part of Synaptics. AMOLEDs should replace current iPhones’ LCD TFT panels in the 10th Anniversary iPhone. As per DigiTimes, AMOLED panels will be supplied by Korea-based panel vendors, most likely Samsung Display, LG Display and others.
As for the main A11 chip, TSMC reportedly taped out its design back in May. For those wondering, in semiconductor talk “taping out” refers to the completion of a chip’s initial design before photomasks for printing the actual silicon dies can be created.
Looking beyond 2017, Apple might be able to award some of its lucrative chip business to semiconductor giant Intel. Yesterday, Intel announced an agreement with ARM Holdings to let foundries like TSMC and Samsung produce chips based on ARM’s most advanced Cortex-series CPU cores on Intel’s ten-nanometer process technology.
Beginning with the A7, Apple’s S-series chips have utilized 64-bit CPU cores compatible with the ARM instruction set. These cores are 100% custom Apple design rather than optimized versions of ARM’s existing Cortex-series CPU blueprints in the pre-A7 chips.