TSMC to Remain Sole iPhone Chip Supplier, Could Provide ARM-Based Chips for Mac in 2020, Apple Car Chips in 2023

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC is set to remain one of Apple's most important suppliers in the years to come, according to a note to investors shared today by reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who now works for TF International Securities.

TSMC manufactures the A-Series chips that are used in Apple's iPhones. The company has been Apple's sole supplier for iPhone chips for a few years, and will continue to be Apple's only supplier in 2019 and 2020 for the A13 and A14 chips Apple is expected to use in those devices.


According to Kuo, Apple will become increasingly dependent on TSMC in the years to come due to TSMC's "superior design and production capabilities" compared to its competitors and the fact that TSMC, unlike Samsung and other Apple suppliers, does not compete with Apple in other markets.

In the future, Kuo believes TSMC will manufacture Apple-designed ARM-based processors for Mac models starting in 2020 or 2021. Rumors have suggested Apple is planning to transition away from Intel chips to its own custom-made chips starting as early as 2020, which Kuo reiterates in today's report.

There are multiple benefits to custom-designed Mac chips, including no delays because of Intel's manufacturing issues, better profits, more control over design, and differentiation from competitors' products.

We also expect that Mac models will adopt Apple's in-house-designed processor starting 2020 or 2021, which will create four advantages for Apple: (1) Apple could control everything about the Mac's design and production and be rid of negative impacts from Intel's processor shipment schedule changes. (2) Better profits thanks to lower processor cost. (3) Mac market share gain if Apple lowers the price. (4) It could differentiate Mac from peers' products.

Kuo also suggests Apple will recruit TSMC to manufacture chips for its upcoming Apple Car starting in 2023 to 2025.

We believe that Apple Car's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will support either Level 4 (high automation) or Level 5 (full automation). Only TSMC's 3/5 nm process can meet Level 4 and Level 5 chip requirements.

In an August report, Kuo said that Apple will launch a full Apple Car in 2023 to 2025, reviving rumors about Apple's work on a complete vehicle. Prior to that report, it was believed Apple had shelved plans for a vehicle and was instead focusing solely on autonomous driving software that could perhaps be integrated into partner vehicles.

Related Roundups: Apple Car, iPhone 11
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 11 (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
23 months ago

We believe that Apple Car's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will support either Level 4 (high automation) or Level 5 (full automation). Only TSMC's 3/5 nm process can meet Level 4 and Level 5 chip requirements.

It's excellent that A-series chips are rivaling desktop CPUs, but I wish Apple's assistant would catch up…



Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
23 months ago

Question: Why would Apple spend years redesigning the Mac Pro to release them on Intel chips in 2019 only to move everything to ARM in 2020?

Either they're moving to ARM in 2019 or a few years later. If Apple can do for desktop chips what they did for mobile chips, then this is going to be amazing.

This rumor keeps popping up.
Apple is not making transitioning from Intel to ARM.
A mobile processor is a far cry from a desktop processor. The reason for ARM in cell phones is that there were two camps ARM and MIPS. ARM won. The first smartphones were actually MIPS (Windows Mobile).

For desktop processors see the new Xeon and Ryzen Thread Ripper for reference.
Symetric processing, multilevel caches, multi-socket support, multithreaded, PCIe root complex with 48 to 64 lanes of Gen4 (by the time they would come out).

The eco system for ARM existed in the mobile space. It does not exist in the desktop space.
Yeah, I know there are ARM Windows devices, and Chrome OS laptops.

I for one would not buy another MacBook Pro or MacPro if they had ARM.
I use VMWare to run CentOS/RedHat x86 and I don't have a substitute for running that for chip design and simulation tools. I'd switch to a Windows machine.

Emulating x86 on ARM would be too slow.
I currently own a MacBook Air, two MacBook Pros, and a MacPro tower that I will not replace with that coffee can thing.
If they release another tower with current Xeon or Ryzen chips, they can have my money. They can have my money as long as they stay intel compatible. Moving away from Intel compatibility, means I move away from Apple.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
23 months ago
The PowerPC to Intel transition had many benefits, including being able to use bootcamp (which was a lifesaver for our company). The question is, how difficult will it be for pro software companies to write for Intel and Apple Arm. Also, will we have bootcamp, or does that go away too.

If Pro for Apple means only Pages and Numbers and a few other major developers software packages, it may be time to switch to Windows for all the Pro users (which makes me just sick).

Apple has really screwed Pro content creators. I have a hard time trusting a leadership who have animoji faces.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
23 months ago

Unless I am mistaken, It seems that Apples reliance on TSMC is only growing. Should Apple buy the company? Or maybe put together a consortium like they did with Toshiba?

No. TSMC is a massive hardware manufacturer with huge capital requirements. Apple doesn’t want to be in that business.

Not only that, TSMC is worth over $200B. Apple can buy almost any company, but this is even too big for Apple with premium.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
23 months ago
Question: Why would Apple spend years redesigning the Mac Pro to release them on Intel chips in 2019 only to move everything to ARM in 2020?

Either they're moving to ARM in 2019 or a few years later. If Apple can do for desktop chips what they did for mobile chips, then this is going to be amazing.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
23 months ago

This would be a really interesting development for macOS if it happens. I’m not sure if this would break compatibility with running Windows (via boot camp), which let’s face it, is one the reasons the Mac didn’t ultimately slide into oblivion.

It will completely break compatibility. You would need to emulate the X86 -> Slow.
Right now, Boot Camp works because Macs are X86.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

Google to 'Dramatically' Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life

Sunday July 12, 2020 1:56 pm PDT by
Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chrome will improve "tab throttling" by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance." Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...

Deals: Amazon Taking $400 Off 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Starting at New Low Price of $1,999.99 for 512GB

Monday July 13, 2020 5:34 am PDT by
Amazon has introduced a new low price on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro today, including both 512GB and 1TB models. Starting with the 512GB model (2.6GHz 6-Core, 16GB RAM), you can get this notebook for $1,999.99, down from $2,399.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....