Semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is kicking off commercial shipments of chips built on its new ten-nanometer process technology, ahead of iPhone 8, sources told Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes. TSMC is building iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion chip and is said to have landed an exclusive contract to manufacture processors for 2017 iPhone and iPad models.
TSMC is gearing up for commercial shipments of chips built using the new ten-nanometer process later in the first quarter, said co-CEO Mark Liu at the foundry’s annual supply chain management forum on February 23. Shipments will “expand rapidly” in the second half of 2017, coinciding with Apple’s presumed iPhone refresh in the fall.
Beyond 2017, TSMC’s seven-nanometer process will be ready for risk production later this spring, with volume production scheduled for 2018. Lastly, the company has said it will be starting risk production of five-nanometer chips in the first half of 2019.
Liu noted that TSMC will be switching to the extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) for an improved version of its seven-nanometer process technology. The company is expected to fully implement the lithography to make five-nanometer chips.
As per analysts, Apple split chip production between TSCM and Samsung for iPhone 6’s 20-nanometer A8 processor and iPhone 6s’s 16-nanometer A9 chip. iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion processor is thought to be Apple’s first chip built exclusively by TSMC.
A10 Fusion is fabbed using TSMC’s 16-nanometer process technology, just like its predecessor. Moving to the ten-nanometer process for A11 Fusion will yield the usual benefits: lower power consumption, faster performance and smaller die size.
A10 Fusion has marked the first Apple-designed chip to use two set of cores, with two 64-bit 2.34 GHz ARMv8-A high-performance cores, codenamed “Hurricane”, and a pair of energy-efficient cores codenamed “Zephyr”.