TSMC Plans to Double 16nm Chip Production in Preparation for iPhone 7

According to a new report from Economic Daily News (via DigiTimes), Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company has plans to double the output capacity of its 16nm chip production from 40,000 12-inch wafers in February to 80,000 in March. The news corroborates previous reports that suggested TSMC was ready to expand its 16nm FinFET production capacity in the second quarter of 2016, solely for the iPhone 7.

iphone_7_render_mr
In a recent investors meeting, TSMC's co-CEO CC Wei said that the company's percentage share of the 14/16nm market is expected to increase from 40 percent in 2015 to over 70 percent in 2016. Apple isn't specifically referenced in the report today, but among TSMC's other purported 16nm customers -- Xilinx, MediaTek, HiSilicon, Spreadtrum and Nvidia -- it is one of the bigger names.
The upcoming ramp-up of 16nm production capacity will buoy TSMC's sales performance starting March, the report quoted market watchers as indicating. The foundry's 16nm FinFET processes consisting of 16FF (16nm FinFET), 16FF+ (16nm FinFET Plus) and 16FFC (16nm FinFET Compact) will generate more than 20% of its total wafer revenues in 2016.
Previous rumors around the iPhone 7 production have pointed to Apple picking TSMC to be the sole manufacturer of the smartphone's processor, presumably called the A10. The foundry was said to have won over Apple because of its 10nm manufacturing process, and a likely attempt at avoiding the dual-sourced A9 chip blowback Apple saw in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tag: TSMC


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21 weeks ago

The rumor in this article states that the A10 will stay at 16nm like the A9. The improvement due to "3D Transistor stacking" or whatever will be very minimal.

http://wccftech.com/iphone-7-tsmc/

20% expected.
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21 weeks ago

Bit confused, so it's going to be 16nm or 10nm chip?


16nm, 10nm won't be ready for Fall devices.
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21 weeks ago

That is true, wireless charging, wireless headphones and waterproofing could all have
something to do with it
, maybe for the 7S? Personally I don't think Apple needs to do much of a redesign of the iPhone, just get rid of the antena bands and make the camera flush and it would look great. Maybe the iPhone Pro will have the dual camera and 256GB storage, to differentiate it from the other models.


Exactly. I think it may be that it's all intertwined and need to be designed together. A nonmetallic body may make their wireless charging feasible, while making it waterproof, needing better battery life hence OLED, hence 10nm.

I'm just spitballing here, but it sounds plausible to me, especially if we are getting a "new" phone with the same exact dimensions as the last one. Like they are working with what they have until the next complete redesign is ready to go.
Rating: 1 Votes
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21 weeks ago

People are acting surprised here. The iPhone 7 will sell primarily on its physical redesign rather than improved specs or features just as was the case with the other numbered models. The "S" versions are usually where we see large jumps in performance and the most significant new features.


That has been the case in the past, but if the iPhone 7 looks almost like the 6/6s, with the only major differences being a flush camera lens and no more visible antenna lines, that would be disappointing to some people. It's possible that Apple wanted to release something really different this year, but because of some delay(s), it was "Plan B" for this year. Again, all speculation, but it seems like all of the rumors released so far are pointing in that direction. Also, the increasing negative perception with the s-model (blame the media) in which people view the 's' as standing for 'same' may push Apple to skip the 7s and call next year's iPhone the iPhone 8. That move would bring the iPhone 8 in line with Samsung's Galaxy S8. Believe it or not, but I think some "less-informed" people might actually think the S8 is more advanced because of its higher number than the 7s.
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21 weeks ago

Bit confused, so it's going to be 16nm or 10nm chip?


I think Apple liked they way they produced the 10nm chip and are sourcing them for a new production of 16nm chips.
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21 weeks ago

http://wccftech.com/iphone-7-tsmc/

20% expected.


Oooooh. Neat stuff.

Yeah, a 20% speed jump is what I'd consider minimal. The A9 was nearly twice as fast as the A8 and at least twice as fast as the A7.

The A8 was like up to 30% faster than the A7 I believe.
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I'm thinking this years iPhone is just a better 6, rather than a full fledged completely new device.

We have read that the dual camera is still a year away. That the 10nm chip is still a year away. That the new oled displays are still at least a year away. That the iPhone will be the exact same dimensions minus one mm in thickness due to an improved thinner display..

I think Apple is working to to get all those things into the iPhone but they are just not quite ready.



More like they can't because profit margins.
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21 weeks ago
I'm thinking this years iPhone is just a better 6, rather than a full fledged completely new device.

We have read that the dual camera is still a year away. That the 10nm chip is still a year away. That the new oled displays are still at least a year away. That the iPhone will be the exact same dimensions minus one mm in thickness due to an improved thinner display..
Also note that new 4" iPhone will be in a old case. I would imagine they would have crafted a completely new one unless it wasn't just a kind of placeholder until the next complete iPhone iteration.

I think Apple is working to to get all those things into the iPhone but they are just not quite ready.
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21 weeks ago
This is good news if it takes care of ChipGate.

Let's hope a TSMC chip is guaranteed in all iPhones so as to ensure better battery life.
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21 weeks ago

http://wccftech.com/iphone-7-tsmc/

20% expected.


That's wccftech just repeating the assessment made from Bernstein ('http://blogs.barrons.com/asiastocks/2015/10/22/tsmc-apple-will-pioneer-info-to-build-thinner-phones-bernstein-raises-target/'). Here's the relevant bit:

Compared with the Flip Chip-PoP (Package-on-Package, or simply FC-POP) technology employed currently, InFO removes substrate from package and hence can reduce the thickness of mobile SoC from 1mm to 0.8mm or lower. The shorter distance between logic die and printed circuit board also enables faster thermal dissipation, higher maximal allowable power consumption and possibly 20% better performance (but with power penalty).

In fact, TSMC’s InFO is just one of many variants of fan-out wafer-level package (FOWLP) which has been tried by many but with limited success thus far. With a satisfactory packaging yield, we estimate InFO (or FOWLP in general) will incur just 5-10% higher cost over the flip chip package. However, low packaging yield results in high cost from die loss, which has kept the technology from mass adoption so far. Though there are still execution risks from now to 3Q16, apparently TSMC is making progress and likely can overcome the yield challenge. This is further supported by the recent announcement of Ultratech (an equipment vendor) which we believe just received a major order for TSMC’s InFO capacity build-up.



What that means is higher performance in the same thermal envelope. That means Apple would have to be willing for the SoC to consume more power, which means less battery life or a bigger battery.

Also, if the A9 was indeed of TSMC's 16FF, then the move to 16FF+ would have a few small performance benefits on its own, similar to Samsung's own 14LPP ('http://www.samsung.com/semiconductor/foundry/process-technology/14nm/') (10%).

This post ('http://www.macrumors.com/2015/11/06/tsmc-a10-production-info-wlp/') goes into InFO in more detail.

edit: one last note- they talk about removing the substrate. That would be the substrate above the die between the memory and application processor. You still need the interface between the die and board, which is a substrate. With InFO WLP, you just route all your dies on that one piece. To have no substrate would be chip-on-board, which isn't possible because board vendors can't make boards with the extremely fine pitches that logic die bumps have. That's why vendors are starting to introduce actual passive silicon wafers (interposers) into the process to get really dense routing to greater I/O to memory and other devices.
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