TSMC Reportedly Lands Three-Year Deal for Apple's A8 Chip and Beyond
Digitimes reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Company (TSMC) has officially landed a three-year deal with Apple to produce the A-series chips that will be used to power upcoming iOS devices. The deal is said to begin with the A8 chip, with future A9/A9X chips also mentioned as being included.
TSMC will start to manufacture Apple's A8 chips in small volume in July 2013, and substantially ramp up its 20nm production capacity after December, the sources revealed. The foundry will complete installing a batch of new 20nm fab equipment, which is capable of processing 50,000 wafers, in the first quarter of 2014, the sources said.
A portion of the upcoming production capacity, estimated at 20,000 wafers, can later be upgraded to process wafers used to build 16nm chips, the sources continued. TSMC is scheduled to volume produce the Apple A9 and A9X processors starting the end of third-quarter 2014, the sources said.
The report claims that the A8 will appear in a new iPhone "slated for release in early 2014", although it is unclear how that timeframe would fit into Apple's usual product lifecycle. Apple has yet to introduce a device running an A7 chip, and with that chip expected to debut in an iPhone later this year, an early 2014 launch for an A8-based iPhone would seem to be too early.
Apple has so far exclusively used Samsung as the supplier for its A-series chips, but with the two companies emerging as bitter rivals in the mobile device market, Apple has reportedly been trying to reduce its reliance on Samsung for component supplies. TSMC has been the most commonly rumored candidate to take over supplying Apple's A-series chips, but it has taken some time for the two companies to reach an agreement and work out any technical hurdles to the shift.