iPhone processor supplier TSMC is reportedly readying volume production of 5nm chips

Semiconductor foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is readying mass production of chips built on its five-nanometer process technology.

According to a preview of the upcoming supply chain report published Wednesday on DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, titled “TSMC to kick off five-nanometer chip production in April,” the Apple supplier is reportedly set to “kick off volume production of chips built using five-nanometer process technology in April” of this year.

For context, Here’s a quick overview of TSMC’s semiconductor process technologies which were used in the production of Apple-designed chips in the past few years:

  • Apple A7: Samsung HKMG 28nm
  • Apple A8: TSMC 20nm
  • Apple A9: TSMC 16nm FinFET, Samsung 14nm FinFET
  • Apple A10 Fusion: TSMC 16nm FinFET
  • Apple A11 Bionic: TSMC 10nm FinFET
  • Apple A12 Bionic: TSMC 7nm FinFET

The new five-nanometer process delivers 1.8 times logic density and fifteen percent speed gain versus TSMC’s seven-nanometer technology, as measured on an ARM’s Cortex-A72 CPU core (Apple’s custom CPU cores also use the ARM instruction set).

Taking advantage of smaller transistor and shorter connections yields improved performance because signals travel faster while a smaller die improves a chip’s power consumption.

The report quotes industry sources as claiming that the company’s process capacity is now fully booked by clients. TSMC is Apple’s biggest client. The company serves as an exclusive manufacturer of Apple-designed mobile chips. It was reported earlier that TSMC would produce the upcoming A14 chips to be used in this year’s iPhone and iPad models.

Earlier reports claimed TSMC would kick off volume production of next-generation Apple chips in the second quarter. The chip builder invested $25 billion in boosting production of five-nanometer chips and this will be the first time ever that an Apple-designed chip has moved to extreme ultraviolet lithography to fit even more transistors onto a smaller die.

We’ll be sure to update the article when the full DigiTimes repot is available.