Report: TSMC to start Apple A9 mass production this month

Report: TSMC to start Apple A9 mass production this month
According to a report out of China that was published today, TSMC and Samsung both have completed trial production runs of the Apple A9 chipset, which will drive the next iteration of the iPhone. As it turns out, TSMC had a higher yield than Samsung and also had the lower production costs between the pair. Every year the rumors bounce back and forth over which of the two companies will produce the lion's share of Apple's Ax chip. Last year TSMC was responsible for the production of each and every A8 chip that found its way inside the Apple iPhone 6 and Apple iPhone 6 Plus.

Back in April, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that TSMC will end up with 30% of the A9 business from Apple, but the results of the trial production could change things. In addition, the report adds that there was no difference in the performance of TSMC's chips produced using the 16nm process, and Samsung's chips produced using the 14nm process.

Based on the result of the trial runs, TSMC will now start mass production of the A9 this month. It is unclear whether Samsung is still waiting for a nod from Apple to begin production of its own A9, or if Apple will now go with TSMC as its exclusive provider of the chip.

source: ChinaTimes (translated) via GforGames

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37 Comments

1. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

So some will be using 16nm and some 14nm? Fragmentation!!!

18. noler

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

No, this is not fragmentation! Actually Samsung are using 20nm with only same part on 14nm. Only Intel are using real 14nm.

20. Simona unregistered

shutuup meeg

22. vincelongman

Posts: 5677; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Last I heard was Intel's was full 14nm (front and back) Samsung's was part 14nm (front) and part 20nm (back) TSMC's was full 20nm (front and back) I wouldn't call is fragmentation since there's always variation in silicon chips Mixing Samsung's and TSMC's would cause even wider variation, but your average consumer mostly likely wouldn't notice it Even power users would barely notice it, except in benchmarks or doing heavy load, like 4K recording or heavy gaming, for long periods The A9 and A9X would still be easily one of the best around Probably the top chips, unless if Samsung have their custom cores ready or the A72s are ready, then it would be pretty close (but those are probably 2016)

34. astroboy_888

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

Intel 14nm node is still using 22nm metal layers. They'll move to 14nm metal in 3rd or 4th gen process. But they are not there yet.

27. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

Way to go TSMC. And Sammy's fabs will go idle. ROFL.

2. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

No difference in performance but what about temperature and power consumption ?

4. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

I was wondering the same thing. There has to be a tradeoff right?

7. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 147; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Performance already takes into account, it's one of the criterion used to measure performance, not just speed.

11. sgodsell

Posts: 7241; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Bull. So 14 nm is the same as 16 nm for Thermal heat capacity? Get real. Next thing you will be telling everyone is that there is no difference between 16 nm and 20 nm. Clearly you don't know what you are talking about. I am surprised someone up voted your comment.

28. BobbyBuster

Posts: 854; Member since: Jan 13, 2015

Moore's law is no more since 20nm. And Sammy's 14nm node isn't a true one unlike Intel's. Get real.

35. astroboy_888

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

For argument sake since dynamic power depends on frequency and metal cap loads, both TSMC 16nm and SS 14nm uses 20nm metals, the max power consumption should be a wash. Thermal heat capacity is more of a function of the chip packaging itself and the overall phone packaging design, so I don't know how to comment on that. However, for iPhone mobile chip parts, the chips are engineered to never designed to run at max performance limit due to battery power conservation, so thermal heat should never be an issue. (Unless you override low power control in the OS level, which you probably shouldn't do). 14nm theoretically should have a slightly lower leakage (standby) power consumption. But since 16/14nm are both FinFet, the leakage power difference should be marginally noticeable. Both should dramatically reduced over previous generation 20nm node technology.

10. Iodine

Posts: 1478; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

It's transistor performance, not chip performance and that includes, leakage, drain capacitance, switching speed, gate pitch, in other words overall power and area efficiency. Considering it's FinFet, I can't imagine what kind of perofmance Apple will deliver, and they do make the most efficient chips, FinFet will only extend that lead.

36. astroboy_888

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

The physical reduction of transistor size contributes to the performance/power ratio. And allow more circuits to be packed in a smaller area (so they may have more graphics cores .etc) So performance comes more from an architectural improvement. FinFet primarily reduce leakage power. (power consumption when phone circuitry is "sleeping") So this should allow you to increase phone standby time. I am expecting a 25-30% improvement in standby time from A8 to A9. (But that is just a guess)

21. Simona unregistered

difference btw 16 or 14 is no difference at all .. 3 -5% in power consumption?

3. KhmerLoveKhmer

Posts: 149; Member since: May 26, 2015

don't really care as long as apple is the designer of the chip. both r slaves of apple. apple is the boss n they work for apple

23. shahrooz

Posts: 792; Member since: Sep 17, 2013

wtf did I just read?

33. sam3k

Posts: 130; Member since: May 02, 2013

Your a special breed of idiot, I know your in denial, wining to yourself why apple couldn't design their own chips :)

5. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 147; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Think Apple should give 100% of the business to TSMC, it seems the have better production costs and better yield rates than Sammy. Besides I'm tired of Samfans proclaiming that Sammy makes Apple processors not realizing that they did not even produce a single A8 processor. I say 100% business to TSMC, they have proved themselves.

13. Ruturaj

Posts: 1484; Member since: Oct 16, 2014

Though 14nm FinFET and 16nm FinFET won't make a big difference (like twice the performance of other), still they will differ in power consumption, heat produced and performance. By the price a person pays for apple iphone he should get the best out there possible, right? (I know the device MSRPs might be same for flagships from all manufactures but the sale prices are very different after 6 months). I would prefer to buy 32gb S6/S6 edge/S6 Active at the time of iphone release for cheaper price (around $500-$550) with better soc than paying $650 + tax for 16gb iphone 6S.

15. Iodine

Posts: 1478; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Apple was bulding A9 for years on one or the other process optimizing it to get maximum perf and more importantly efficiency (and they killed it last year with A8 on that matter). Now even if samsung got a better process (which they don't as both 14 and 16nm are in fact the same size as 20nm), all the optimalization work made on A9 will be lost. With iPhone you already get the best SoC: 2nd gen of 64-bit architecture, huge wide, efficient CpU, super beefy GPU with the best efficiency and the least throtling a powerfull ISP, 4MB of "L3 cache" and so on... If they will jump on FinFet, there will be no competition. So far every next gen A chip matched or exceeded even the last gen AX chip. While it may be too farfetched to expect Apple to match A8X with A9 in an iPhone, even if they get close they will crush the competition.

32. sachouba

Posts: 266; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Since the Galaxy S6s are already way more powerful than the CPU of the A8X, I don't think Apple can "crush" the competition...

37. astroboy_888

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

Yield impacts bottom line in two ways. 1. Cost per chip. 2. Chip volume vs. demand. If what the article about Samsung yield is true. It impacts Apple's bottom line in both aspects, 1. Samsung's 14nm chip is higher / unit. 2. Samsung could not meet the number of units Apple demands. Apple needs to sell as many phones in the shortest time possible to meet market demand, so it can not be held up by lack of a part. Considering the fact that samsung's chip manufacturing output per year is about 4-5% of TSMC's total capacity. It is probably far easier for TSMC to meet Apple's demand at a lower cost / unit.

6. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1354; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I doubt Apple will throw everything at TSMC. It did that last time and TSMC could not meet capacity while Samsung had twice as much capacity. This is the same thing we heard early last year on how Apple would be ditching Samsung altogether. The fact is that Samsung, hate them or love them, have the foundry, capacity and most importantly the quality assurance to meet Apples expectations.

8. No_Sammy_No_Gimmicks

Posts: 147; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

There has not being any shortages of A8, and A8 does not have any reliability issues or problems as far as I know.

9. Commentator

Posts: 3722; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

"Had." If TSMC has expanded its operations to the extent it's possible to take over Samsung's share, there's no reason Apple wouldn't switch.

38. astroboy_888

Posts: 6; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

I think you might be misinformed. The reason TSMC had 100% orders in A8 is because Samsung had low yield and could not meet demand for 20nm technology. By volume per year, TSMC supplies 60-65% of world demand in contracted semiconductors. Samsung by comparison has a max output of ~5% of TSMC's total capacity. TSMC (started as joint venture between Philips Electronics of Netherlands, and Taiwanese government research organization) has been in semiconductor manufacturing business (30+ years) far longer than Samsung (~10). In 2008 Philips Electronics sold all of its TSMC shares as they exited the semiconductor business, but remained a customer.

12. SuperNova

Posts: 649; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

No doubt that Apple will choose TSMC to exclusively make the chip as long as it's going to give Apple a massive profit margin. So there's more advanced 14nm process which is basically the norm of 2015 chip, yet they choose the 16nm instead withouth worrying if it's latest or not. When it comes to priority, money is first for Apple, and that's not new.

17. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

Exactly

19. noler

Posts: 326; Member since: Aug 19, 2013

Actually Samsung are using 20nm with only same part on 14nm. Only Intel are using real 14nm.

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