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

tsmc logo newAt 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.

Tags: TSMC, W1, A12, W2
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

Piggie Avatar
61 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)
zakarhino Avatar
61 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)
farewelwilliams Avatar
61 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)
whiteboytrash Avatar
61 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)
Exponent Avatar
61 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)
layte Avatar
61 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)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
macOS Monterey 2

Apple Releases macOS Monterey 12.4 With Support for Studio Display Webcam Update

Monday May 16, 2022 10:10 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Monterey 12.4, the fourth major update to the macOS Monterey operating system that launched in October 2021. macOS Monterey 12.4 comes over two months after the launch of macOS Monterey 12.3, an update that added Universal Control. The ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Monterey‌‌ 12.4 update can be downloaded on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp to Let Users Leave Group Chats 'Silently' and View Rich Link Previews in Status Updates

Tuesday May 17, 2022 3:07 am PDT by
WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will allow users to "silently" leave group chats hosted by the messaging platform instead of all members of the group being notified when they do. As it stands, when someone leaves a group chat, WhatsApp announces their exit to the entire group, making the act of leaving very public. It's not possible right now to leave a group quietly, but WhatsApp...
apple tv 4k design green

Apple Releases tvOS 15.5 for Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K

Monday May 16, 2022 9:57 am PDT by
Apple today released tvOS 15.5, the fifth major update to the tvOS operating system that first launched in September 2021. tvOS 15.5 comes more than two months after the release of tvOS 15.4, an update that brought support for captive WiFi networks. tvOS 15.5 can be downloaded over the air on the Apple TV through the Settings app by going to System > Software Update. ‌‌‌‌‌‌Apple...