Apple and TSMC Reportedly Completing Designs for 20-nm A7 Chip With Early 2014 Availability
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is expected to tape out Apple's A7 processor on a 20nm process in March and then move the chip into risk production in May-June, which will pave the way for commercial shipments in the first quarter of 2014, according to industry sources.The report claims that TSMC will be using its "14-fab" facility at the Tainan Science Park in Taiwan to build the chips.
We talked with Silicon-IP founder and former TSMC director Kurt Wolf about the report, and he notes that TSMC did achieve certification on its 20-nm process in December, although a significant amount of work remains before production-worthy chips will be ready.
With Apple undoubtedly preparing to launch new iPhone and iPad models this year before the rumored 20-nm A7 is ready in early 2014, Wolf points out that Apple has a number of options for this year's lineup. Those options include smaller and more efficient versions of the existing A6 family based on a 28-nm process rather than the current 32-nm process, a more substantially modified A6 to boost power, or a new A7 chip built on the 28-nm process before being moved to 20-nm next year. Wolf believes that Apple will be using both Samsung and TSMC to build its 2013 chips.
A report from last October had claimed that Apple and TSMC would be working together on 20-nm chips for 2014, and today's report seems to be in line with those claims. Earlier this week, we discovered a smaller version of the A5 chip inside the tweaked Apple TV and initially thought that it might be built on a smaller process node or come from TSMC, but further examination revealed that it is still a 32-nm chip from Samsung. It has, however, undergone a substantial redesign in order to achieve a nearly 50% reduction in size.