TSMC Reportedly Ahead of Schedule With New 16nm Technology for Apple's A9 Chip

Monday August 25, 2014 7:37 AM PDT by Kelly Hodgkins
According to Taiwan's Economic Daily News [Google Translate, via Digitimes], Apple's reported current A-series chip partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is ahead of schedule with its next-generation 16nm process for chip production. The Chinese-language report claims TSMC will begin 16nm volume production in Q1 2015, a full quarter earlier than its originally projected Q2 2015 start. This advancement may pave the way for TSMC to supply Apple with the future A9 processor that would be used in the late 2015 iPhone.

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TSMC is reportedly installing this 16mm capability in its manufacturing plants with the potential for a monthly output of 50,000 wafers. This capability positions TSMC favorably against Samsung as the two companies vie to supply Apple with processors for both its current and future iPhone and iPad models.

Reports from last year suggested Samsung, GlobalFoundries and TSMC would share production of Apple's A9 processor in 2015. Samsung is expected to handle the lion's share of the production, providing up to 40% of Apple's processor supply, although TSMC may be looking to alter that balance with its accelerated work. GlobalFoundries, TSMC and possibly even Intel may be used to complement Samsung's production to provide the remaining chip inventory necessary to meet Apple's demand.

Related roundups: iPhone 6, iPad Air 2

Top Rated Comments

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Posted: 10 weeks ago
The start of iPhone 6s rumors :D
Rating: 8 Votes
Posted: 10 weeks ago
Yeah right. I wish we could just get the iPhone 6 before these rumors with better specs are announced.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 10 weeks ago

**** no.
We don't need any stinking phablets from Apple. Or stupidly large iPads.


Says who?

The market certainly wants them. Each time I read a comment like that I wonder what is wrong with humanity.

I don't want a stupid pathetic small screen either, but I'm not stupid so I understand that millions might want it.
Rating: 3 Votes
Posted: 10 weeks ago

Isn't it time to simply go:

iPhone (4")
iPhone Air (4.7")
iPhone Pro (5.5")

And drop the rest? Do the same for tablets and that's it.

iPad (7.9")
iPad Air (9.7")
iPad Pro (12 " or whatever).

Also Macs:

Macbook (12")
Macbook Air (14")
Macbook Pro (15.6")

iMac (21")
iMac Air (24")
iMac Pro (27")

Mac Pro.

Sounds nice.


**** no.
We don't need any stinking phablets from Apple. Or stupidly large iPads.
Also the 24 inch iMac is a thing of the past. Back in the days when 17, 20 and 24 inch iMacs were a thing.
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 9 weeks ago

At this rate, 1nm will be here before too long. Crazy what that day will bring us! :eek:


Or, not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Tick-Tock There are some fundamental limits of physics we hit ~5nm when using full atoms to create transistors. We need some new (sub-atomic) paradigms to keep Moore's Law going ...
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 9 weeks ago
The talk of 14nm, 16nm, or even 1nm, is interesting...

Marketing can blur the lines between for example, routing being on say a 16nm basis, and the main structures that make up a transistor being on a larger one, say 20 or 22nm.

The issue of whether there is enough demand to produce enough chips, and spreading across 14nm and 16nm to cope with this perhaps a 'red herring' - with TSMC and others moving from 300mm to 450mm wafers, significantly more devices can be made per wafer, even more so if they are made at 14nm rather than say, 22nm. So the demand issue may be less negative than it seems - the true demand is there, and growing perhaps, but can be met by a smaller number of fabs... which would really reduce operating costs...

The physics of Moore's Law running out at around 5nm may be a non-sequitur in that the financials become the dominating issue around 7nm. The cost of the equipment, fab, and then mask sets for 7nm devices are now so expensive when spread across the devices being built, that it is MORE expensive to build at 7nm say, than at 10-12nm. The development costs at the 7nm node are huge in comparison to at the 20nm node, and 22nm has proven a challenge for Intel, so...

We are probably seeing the practical end of 50+ years of shrinking... and the falsehood of lower costs year after year (lower costs are not the same as lower prices!).
Rating: 2 Votes
Posted: 10 weeks ago

So what kind of specs can we expect might come with the A9?


Faster, smaller, more energy efficient resulting most obviously in a slightly thinner case with "about the same battery life".

At this rate, 1nm will be here before too long. Crazy what that day will bring us! :eek:


I'm pretty sure there is a physics limit to this shrinking that cannot be overcome. I seem to recall that it's around 12-14nm but maybe down towards something like 9nm. I think I recall something about the limit cannot be broken because electrons would "bleed" across to other nearby circuits. In other words, the orderly functionality inside these chips would become disorderly.

Someone with much more knowledge of this, please chime in.

Update: I did find this: http://www.zdnet.com/ibm-to-invest-3-billion-in-next-gen-7nm-and-beyond-chips-7000031406/ suggesting 7nm is being attempted with a big dollar investment.
Rating: 1 Votes
Posted: 9 weeks ago

**** no.
We don't need any stinking phablets from Apple. Or stupidly large iPads.


**** no.
We don't need any of what you (currently like or want)
Rating: 1 Votes
Posted: 9 weeks ago

Kind of agree. The 5.5" iPhone 6 is huge. I hope it isn't the flagship iPhone with the better camera, better image stabilization, and better display. That would be like punishing people who use normal sized phones. If the 5.5" and 4.7" iPhone have feature parity, outside of display pixel density, then I'll be happy. If not I may keep my iPhone 5 for a while.


Even if Apple takes advantage of the larger 5.5" iPhone 6 to add a slightly improved camera with OIS, the 4.7" iPhone will still be a great phone with a very good camera.
Rating: 1 Votes
Posted: 9 weeks ago
In fact, it really is 20nm with some added features (finFET). If samsung/glofo is really doing 14nm finFET, that mean the TSMC chip is going to be way behind.

For reference. Currently intel hashwell and bay-trial is both running on 22nm finFET, which is the closest to the "16nm" TSMC is marketing. But Intel is going to have 14nm 2nd gen finFET processor ready end of this year and all of next year. (Broadwell and Airmont/Goldmont ATOM)

Source:

http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1319679
http://www.extremetech.com/computing/177240-tsmc-arm-announce-first-16nm-finfet-tapeout-of-big-little-cortex-a57-soc

:mad:
Rating: 1 Votes

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