TSMC’s 7nm EUV process will monopolize orders for A13 processors, but will not help Apple?
According to the news that digitimes cites the supply chain, TSMC will win all orders for Apple’s next-generation A13 processor, which will help TSMC expand its market position in the foundry field. But for Apple, even with the most advanced 7nm EUV process, the performance of the A13 processor is still challenging.
It is reported that TSMC’s share in the global foundry market in the first half of 2018 is 56%. If TSMC receives all orders for Apple’s A13 processor, some insiders believe that this will increase TSMC’s market share to 60% next year. In fact, in the A9 processor, TSMC and Samsung are OEM for the Apple processor, but Samsung’s 14nm process is more advanced than TSMC’s 16nm process. Samsung is more advanced than TSMC, but the actual performance of the processor is just the opposite. At that time, the guide on how to choose the TSMC version of the iPhone was highly sought after.
It can be seen that after 2016, Apple’s A series processor has been exclusively manufactured by TSMC. According to sources, Apple will continue to make TSMC an exclusive chip manufacturer to meet the demand of the A19 processor in 2019. This judgment also has a certain basis. Apple has publicly praised TSMC for its ability to mass produce high-quality products and is very sensitive to new technologies. TSMC also helped Apple mass-produce the world’s first 7nm mobile phone processor, enabling the high performance of iPhoneXs/Xs Max.
In addition, before the A13 processor debut, we may also see another Apple processor, the A12X, which uses TSMC’s 7nm process. This processor may appear along with the upcoming iPad Pro. The iPad Pro currently on sale was launched last year, using the A10X processor. The new iPad Pro, which the industry expects to release in a month, will completely skip the A11 processor with the A12X processor. Based on past experience, the X-version A-series processors perform better on both CPU and GPU performance and speed. The important reason is that the iPad has fewer thermal limits and larger battery capacity than the iPhone.
According to the report from digitimes, the InFO fan-out package developed by TSMC will make its 7nm process more competitive than other competitors, because it enables TSMC users to enjoy advanced production and packaging integration services. This may also be an important reason for Apple to continue to choose TSMC. In addition, TSMC is expected to become the world’s first supplier to adopt 7nm extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography process, which is very expensive, but can reduce the difficulty of manufacturing 7nm chips. But the point is that TSMC’s 7nm EUV can make TSMC reduce the manufacturing difficulty of 7nm, but it seems that the performance of the Apple A13 processor has no obvious effect.
According to Lei Feng.com, TSMC’s data shows that compared with the 16nm FF process, TSMC’s 7nm process (code N7) transistor density is three times, which can bring 35% performance improvement and 65% energy consumption reduction. The EUV process 7nm+ (code N7+) will be introduced in the first half of 2019, the transistor density will increase by 20%, and the power consumption will be reduced by 10%. As for the performance, the previous statement is that there is no increase or increase (less than the first generation 7nm). A change of about 10%, which is only an improvement in the transistor level, does not mean an increase in processor performance.
This trend has been reflected in the A12 processor. According to the measured data of Geekbench 4, the AGHz processor’s 2.5GHz frequency is not significantly improved compared to the A11, which puts a test for next year’s A13 processor and 7nm EUV process.
The semiconductor process approach to the limit has made wafer foundries more challenging. At the end of August this year, Grofund announced an important strategic shift and decided to stop all work on 7nm process technology and the development of subsequent processes. Gary Patton, CTO of Grofund, stressed that the decision was not that GF had a major technical problem, but rather a commercial consideration of its 7nm platform and financial issues. TSMC CEO Wei Zhejia also revealed that TSMC is expected to invest $25 billion in 5nm.
Lei Feng.com believes that the performance improvement of the chip by the semiconductor process process has been weakened, and the investment in more advanced process processes has directly affected the development cost of the chip, so find new ways to improve performance and control power consumption. More test chip design vendors. Apple has recently spent $600 million to acquire a stake in its supplier Dialog. Dialog has been providing power ICs for Apple. Is this also related to Apple’s new processor design?
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