Apple's Chip Partner TSMC Shares Details on 7nm Node and Advanced InFO Package Process for 2018

At the Open Innovation Platform Ecosystem Forum in Santa Clara on Wednesday, chip foundry TSMC provided an update (via EE Times) on the progress of its forthcoming technology nodes, several of which would be candidates for upcoming Apple chips. Most notably, the company's first 7-nanometer process node has already had several tape-outs (finalized designs) and expects to reach volume capacity in 2018.

TSMC's 10 nm node, which first showed up in Apple's A10X chip in the iPad Pro, followed by the A11, has been fraught with issues (paid link) such as low chip yield and performance short of initial expectations. TSMC looks to change its fortune with the new 7 nm node, which would be suitable for the successor to the A11 chip given current timelines.

In addition to the 7 nm node, TSMC also shared information on the follow-up revision to this node, dubbed, N7+. Featuring the long-beleaguered Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUV), the revision would promise 20 percent better density, around 10 percent higher speeds, or 15 percent lower power with other factors held constant.

While EUV has faced delays for over a decade at this point, it seems to finally be coming to fruition, and a 2019 volume availability update would allow Apple to update its chip process in subsequent years yet again. Apple had previously updated process nodes with every iPhone since the transition to 3GS before being forced to use TSMC's 16 nm node in consecutive years with the A9 and A10. Moving forward, that annual cadence is again in jeopardy as chip foundries deal with the realities of physics and minimum transistor geometry sizes.

TSMC also unveiled some low power and low leakage processes that are suitable for Apple's other custom designs, such as its line of wireless chips like the W1 and successor W2. TSMC is targeting availability next year of a 22 nm ultra low leakage node, which is suitable for analog and RF designs such as cellular basebands or Wi-Fi chips.

This will ultimately help Apple further lower power consumption on the Apple Watch and headphones featuring the W line of wireless chips. It is also likely to be adopted by Qualcomm for its line of modem products. The W1 and W2 manufacturing processes are not currently publicly known, but it is likely that one of TSMC's RF-focused processes powers the Apple chips.

Finally, TSMC announced a revision of its integrated fan-out packaging process (InFO) that is targeted at integrating high bandwidth memory (HBM) into the assembly, dubbed InFO-MS. HBM has generated a lot of interest from applications where very high sustained memory bandwidths are desired, such as consumer graphics cards.

HBM and similar standards such as Wide I/O promise not only to improve memory bandwidth, but also improve power consumption for a given bandwidth, making it a suitable evolution for mobile SoC designs. This type of memory interface has yet to appear in a mobile design, though it should be considered a near-term eventuality. Despite advances in mobile memory, it still lags behind desktop and laptop systems in total bandwidth, which can be important in some tasks such as graphics rendering.

Related Roundup: iPhone XS
Tags: TSMC, W1, A12, W2

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
40 months ago

all it freaking takes is 10 minutes of Jony's time to redesign TSMC's horrid logo. is it that hard?

You want a black notch at the top of the logo ?
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

all it freaking takes is 10 minutes of Jony's time to redesign TSMC's horrid logo. is it that hard?

You want a black notch at the top of the logo ?

Saved Jony the time of mocking up:

Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago
all it freaking takes is 10 minutes of Jony's time to redesign TSMC's horrid logo. is it that hard?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

all it freaking takes is 10 minutes of Jony's time to redesign TSMC's horrid logo. is it that hard?

I was thinking the same thing! That logo is straight out of 1972.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

I was thinking the same thing! That logo is straight out of 1972.

I've been a customer of TSMC for over 15 years, and I love their logo: that's what we use TSMC for, to get a wafer back, and we better be aware of yield! (Represented the black -i.e. unworking - squares in the wafer.)

As a matter of fact, I was at this conference Wednesday, and a tool vendor concerned with yield made the point that changes in the logo represent (forgetting exact percentage) a 20% increase in yield over the past 10 years :)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
40 months ago

And yet Apple ships a SoC that is basically the same size as, say, a Kaby Lake dual processor, faster (single and multithreaded), uses less power, has better GPU performance, and includes a whole ton of OTHER useful stuff (like ISP and NPU).
So what exactly is that supposed Intel process advantage getting you? It doesn't result in smaller (or cheaper) chips, or better performance, or more functionality, or lower power.
The ONLY thing it seems good for is producing slides for fanboys.

Faster at Geekbench, which I suppose is cool if you want to run that and nothing else. https://www.pcper.com/reviews/Mobile/Microsoft-Surface-Pro-2017-vs-Apple-iPad-Pro-2017-Best-Productivity-Tablet/Performanc
Seems the performance is not there if you run something other than simple synthetics.

I'd suggest having a read of this if you want to educate yourself on where the different foundry processes currently sit, as the number they stick on it doesn't count for much.
https://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/6713-14nm-16nm-10nm-7nm-what-we-know-now.html
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

Tuesday September 22, 2020 3:25 pm PDT by
Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that M...

New Images Leak of iPhone 12 Braided USB-C to Lightning Cable

Thursday September 24, 2020 2:37 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's upcoming iPhone 12 models will ship with a new Lightning to USB-C cable that includes a braided fabric design. Images of the purported cables were leaked in July, and today leaker Mr White has shared new images that give us a closer look at what we might get included in the iPhone 12 box. The photos show a USB-C to Lightning cable with a clearly braided design rather...

Apple's iPhone 12 Event Could Happen on October 13 Based on Rumors From Mobile Operators

Wednesday September 23, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone-centric event could perhaps be held on Tuesday, October 13, according to information shared with MacRumors by an employee at a UK cellular carrier. There's no way for us to confirm the dates at this point in time nor are we sure on the credibility of the source, but even without a rumor, Tuesday, October 13 is a good guess based on Apple's historic launch timelines, ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

Interest in iOS 14 Home Screen Ideas Helps Pinterest Break Daily Download Record

Wednesday September 23, 2020 4:37 am PDT by
Apple's introduction of widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14 has driven a surge in interest among users looking to customize their iPhone, and that has reportedly had a knock-on effect for Pinterest, whose iOS app has seen record downloads as users flock to its content seeking design inspiration. As reported by TechCrunch, App Store intelligence firm Apptopia was first to note the impact of ...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Apple Emphasizes That Solo Loop May Increase in Length Over Time, Updates Sizing Guide With More Specific Instructions

Wednesday September 23, 2020 8:26 am PDT by
Apple on Tuesday updated one of its support documents to emphasize that the new silicone rubber Solo Loop for the Apple Watch may increase in length over time, as mentioned in fine print at the bottom of the Solo Loop product page. Apple has also updated its printable Solo Loop sizing guide with more specific instructions, as noted by 9to5Mac's Michael Steeber. The guide now advises users to ...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...

Kuo: Mini-LED Displays to Debut in Apple's Next iPad Pro

Tuesday September 22, 2020 11:45 pm PDT by
Following his report earlier this week indicating that Apple will be accelerating adoption of mini-LED displays in its iPad and Mac notebook lineups thanks to better than expected development from potential secondary supplier Sanan Optoelectronics, analyst Ming-Chi has released a new report today sharing a bit more perspective on the mini-LED display market as it relates to Apple. Kuo says...