Apple may work with TSMC for self-driving car chips


We go for a long stretch without hearing anything about the Apple Car, and then all of a sudden it’s back in the cycle.

According to a new report from DigiTimes today, Apple is going to work with chip manufacturer TSMC to build new chips specifically for self-driving cars. The report indicates that Apple is working directly with TSMC to develop chips for self-driving car technology. And this is not completely out of left field, either. As noted by 9to5Mac, Tesla is also believed to be working with TSMC for its own self-driving chip — which could be ready to go into mass production sometime in the fourth quarter of 2021.

(Expectations are that whatever the Apple Car is, it won’t be unveiled until at least 2024. Probably.)

Per the report:

It is worth noting that TSMC has previously reported that it has already deployed Apple Car and has an exclusive R&D plant in Nanke. For example, it cooperates with STMicroelectronics to accelerate the development of gallium nitride (GaN) process technology and will Separate and integrated GaN components are introduced into the market.

Apple and TSMC have a lengthy relationship, with the latter manufacturing the A-series processors used in iPhones and iPads. TSMC also manufactures the M-series processor for the Macs as well.

The original report also claims that TSMC is going to “set up” new factories in the United States at some point in the future, and these could be tapped to manufacture the new self-driving chips. However, it’s possible this may not actually be the case. TSMC has already confirmed earlier this year it’s opening at least one new factory in the state of Arizona, and this could be where that part of the report is coming from.

The new report also states that the Apple Car will be “similar to Tesla”, but doesn’t go into any real detail here. So we don’t know what that actually means, whether it will be in design, features, or something else entirely. Still, Tesla vehicles are wildly popular in their own right, so this might not be a bad thing for Apple.

Last we heard from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, for instance, Apple was developing its own custom chips for the self-driving vehicles, which could debut sometime between 2023 and 2025. And back in August of 2018, Kuo stated that the Apple Car (or Project Titan) was “back on track“, and that Apple would have something to show off sometime around 2024.

In related news, a report from this week detailed how Apple has put its AI chief, John Giannandrea in charge of the Apple Car project, taking over for Bob Mansfield who is “fully retired” now.