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Apple Reportedly Tapping TSMC for 20-nm Quad-Core Chips with Late 2013 Production

China Economic News Service reports on a research note from Citigroup analyst J.T. Hsu claiming that Apple is working with Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC as its sole supplier for future quad-core chips based on more efficient 20-nanometer processes. The timeline shared by Hsu suggests that the quad-core chips could make their way into products such as the iPad in 2014.
Citigroup Global Markets’ market research fellow, J.T. Hsu, pointed out that Apple began verifying TSMC’s 20nm process in August this year and may begin risk production in November with the process. Volume production is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, raising the possibility that TSMC will hike capital expenditure to US$11-12 billion in 2013 and 2014.

Hsu estimated Apple to design quad-core processors into iPad, iTV and even Macbook. iPhones will be still powered by duo-core processors to highlight its low power consumption merit.
TSMC is in the early stages of developing its 20-nanometer processes, but the company promises significant improvements with the technology.
TSMC's 20nm process technology can provide 30 percent higher speed, 1.9 times the density, or 25 percent less power than its 28nm technology. TSMC 20nm technology is the manufacturing process behind a wide array of applications that run the gamut from tablets and smartphones to desktops and servers.
Apple currently uses Samsung as the manufacturer of its A-series chips for its iOS devices, testing out a 32-nanometer process with a revised A5 chip launched in the tweaked iPad 2 and the third-generation Apple TV earlier this year. Apple moved full-bore into the 32-nanometer process for the new A6 chip used in the iPhone 5.

Apple had been rumored several times over the past 18 months to be switching its ARM-based chip production to TSMC, but the company has so far stuck with Samsung. A late August report indicated that Apple and Qualcomm had each attempted to purchase exclusive access to TSMC's chip production, but TSMC ultimately rejected both bids. TSMC has, however, indicated that it remains open to dedicating individual factories to single customers, and it appears that Apple may be interested in pursuing that route in order to take advantage of TSMC's technical and manufacturing expertise.

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90 months ago
So long Samsung!
Rating: 16 Votes
90 months ago

Why doesn't apple buy TSMC :p ?

Samsung Patented that idea.
Rating: 9 Votes
90 months ago
Late 2013?
Just in time for the 'new' Mac Pro.
With 3 GB of memory and a two year old Nvidia 650GT. :rolleyes:
Rating: 8 Votes
90 months ago

To me this should put an end to the speculation on wether a revised iPad 3 is going to be released this year: Probably not. I think we will see a revised iPad 3, in March of 2013, with this new 20nm chip, along with the iPad 4th. I don't think they will use Lightning connector, just like they didn't revise the iPhone 4S's connector.

Did you read the part of the article where it said that production of these chips wasn't going to begin until 3Q 2013?
Rating: 7 Votes
90 months ago

No. Big no-no.

You don't use market cap as a measure of "price tagging" companies.

Market cap is the price of a company, with some extra for acquisition premium, but yes, market cap is the reference point.
Rating: 5 Votes
90 months ago

So long Samsung!

this will hurt more than the billion dollar patent ruling.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago
Jumping on a state of the art TSMC node has always worked out well. Their 40 and 28 nodes have had massive production issues long after they were implemented.
Rating: 3 Votes
90 months ago

Apple has an estimated $117B in cash reserves...hardly enough to purchase TSMC.

Since TSMCs market cap is 78 billion, I think you might be wrong. However, I see no reason why Apple would want to buy them.


Because last I checked TSMC is worth about 2.2 Trllion?

You know thats not dollars right?
Rating: 2 Votes
90 months ago

That will change for Apple when they get desperate enough due to Apple's installation of the Post PC era. The problem is they will wait till it's too late and they are capital constrained for R&D for a few years and Apple is vastly outstripping them by concatenating worldwide skilled labor and IP and factories. F Intel. Sell.


There is no such thing as the Post PC era, it doesn't exist. Its a marketing term invented by Apple so people buy Garbage like Ipads, when they could be buying something useful. Like a Mac. An iPad is not a replacement for a PC or Mac for most people. Now for people that only like Angry Birds and Facebook. Sure. iPads and tablets for a good number of people, but not all people Are an expansion of the PC. Not a replacement, unless all you do is play Angry birds and go on Facebook.

First off, Intel does not need Apple to survive. That is a hilarious thought, are forgetting enterprise? Gamers? data centers? Super computing? integrated systems? Apple doesn't do any of the above.

The fact is, Intel is not capital constrained, the Desktop PC will stay very popular, sure it might not be your go to for everything machine, but it will most likely turn into a hub for your home media, work, and play. Which is already kinda is.

I hope you don't mean F intel, because the very best ARM offerings atm are about equivalent to a Mid Grade Pentium 4 from 10 year ago. Apple isn't capable of building a Laptop or Desktop chip as good as Intel can.


That may not be stay the sweet spot moving forward. Desktops are rapidly becoming dinosaurs, tablets are starting to outsell laptops, and other companies have proven faster processor designs at other points on the power curve (certainly IBM at the high end, and hearing-aid DSPs at the low end).

Desktops are not becomming dinosaurs, I'm not sure where people are getting this from, sure some people who don't do real work, or don't need real features and do nothing but watch movies and play angry birds can get along just fine with a iPad, but anyone who needs real features, real performance....lets see....

PC gamers.....Data centers.....servers.....web storage....... enterprise......small and large business ( enterprise ).....goverement......

Sorry people, an Ipad can't do it all.

And as I said, the very very best ARM chips are just starting to be able to hit X86 CPU performance from 10 years ago.

IBM thought they had the best talent and an insurmountable advantage in computer performance... until Seymore Cray, working in much smaller companies, came along, and took the performance crown away for nearly a quarter century.

Thats a very poor comparison, Cray never made his own CPUs, he just put a bunch of components that already existed together in an amazing way.

Building a CPU from the ground up is very different. It requires a ton of money, which Apple has. And it requires great engineers, which apple can buy, but it requires tons of experience, and years of research.

The fact of the matter is, as it Stands, Apple is well over a decade away from being able to make a CPU as good as an Intel Desktop or Laptop CPU, and thats if they go full force into it.

And to be honest, what the hell is wrong with some of you people? Why would you want Intel out of the Mac? Intel makes the best consumer CPU's in the world, hands down. There is ZERO competition, isn't Apple all about providing the best user experience? Intel CPU's give the Mac desktop and Laptops tons of performance, great battery life, and compatibility with multiplate OS's, if Apple replaced intel CPU's with some ****** in house ARM chip. I could see Mac sales crashing, very quickly.
Rating: 2 Votes
90 months ago

I'm not convinced that anyone actually can license the x86 ISA. AMD, Cyrix and VIA all seem to be running on legacy licenses, and the x86-64 would have to be a AMD/Intel license combo and that would probably close to impossible to facilitate. There's not a lot of companies doing x86 processors, and I think there's licensing issues in the way for this. I have no other idea why the likes of TSMC, IBM, Freescale, Broadcom, Qualcomm, Ti and Samsung (and a multitude of Chinese companies) wouldn't build x86 processors of their own.

The i486 architecture is older than 20 years and patens are probably expired. i686 (Pentium Pro) came in 1995 so these patents would probably expire soon too.

I can't see the point though. Apple ship A LOT more products using ARM and there are A LOT more software for Apple's iOS platform than OSX, and this gap is only expanding. A lot of code is in Cocoa, C or some other more or less easily portable code. So, It's more likely that Apple will license/design a high performance (with high frequency and strong floating point, out of order operation, 64-bit, branch prediction, wide and fast external buses, PCI, etc) ARM architecture to replace its x86 offerings than to make an x86 microarchitecture on its own.

Unless Apple really wants to finally kill off their Mac line or they have a secret engineering team that can out engineer Intel's best, they won't be doing this anytime soon. Even the fastest ARM designs have nothing on a Core 2 Duo circa 2006.
Rating: 2 Votes

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