Apple’s main chip supplier on track to make next-generation 5nm silicon as soon as next year

Apple’s main chip supplier on track to make next-generation 5nm silicon as soon as next year
Semiconductor manufacturers might not be following Moore’s law to a T, but that doesn’t mean they’re not making good progress. Last year, we saw the first mobile chips using the 7nm architecture: Apple’s A12 and HiSilicon’s Kirin 980, followed by the Snapdragon 855. It was expected that processors will remain on that level for a while, considering that producing smaller transistors gets exponentially harder with the reduction of their size.

Turns out, we might not have to wait as long as we thought. News coming from Taiwan, brought to us by DigiTimes, raises hopes that the next jump might be just a year away.
TSMC, one of the world’s biggest semiconductor manufacturers and the main chip supplier for Apple’s own A12 and upcoming A13 SoC, has announced that its design infrastructure for 5nm chips is now available for potential customers to download and start working with.

This means that TSMC clients, such as Apple, now have the tools to design their next-generation chips. This will likely allow TSMC to secure orders from Apple for at least a couple of years. But what would the new architecture mean for performance?

Exact gains are hard to predict, but what TSMC says is that it will be able to fit 1.8 times more transistors within the same surface and expects about 15% speed gain in ARM’s Cortex-A72 Cores. Power efficiency will also be higher than that of 7nm chips, which should lead to better battery life.

TSMC is also proud of the progress it's making in terms of yield, which was one of the main problems with the mass production of 5nm chips. Using EUV lithography, which replaced FinFET as the size decreased, the company is able to achieve yields comparable to those of its larger nodes when they were at the same stage of development. This means, of course, there’s still work to be done before the chips can enter mass production, but the important takeaway is that the technology is advancing on schedule.

The potential arrival of the 5nm chips in 2020 is actually good news for Apple. This year we expect to see the major design changes coming with the iPhone 11, leaving the performance improvements to be the major selling point of the 2020 iPhone 11S. In other words, business as usual.

Of course, other manufacturers will also be able to benefit from TSMC’s developments, but only if they manage to secure any of its production capacity, for which Apple is paying top dollar, we’re sure.

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11 Comments

1. applesnapple93

Posts: 314; Member since: Jan 06, 2016

Could've just said TSMC to move to 5nm process as early as next year. Not really an Apple exclusive article. Other big players use them and not just in the mobile market

2. lyndon420

Posts: 6828; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Careful...talk like that could get you moderated. TSMC has other customers yes, but for some reason the fruit gets the only mention...strange how this site works. /s

3. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Because the fruit is the only worth mentioning since they get most of profit from it.

6. Vokilam

Posts: 1278; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Their business is to write articles. Not post one liners on a page of pictures. I never underdtood why people complain about writers on any website but continue to visit them!!!

7. drunkenjay

Posts: 1697; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

they sure didnt read their articles when they posted consumer reviews of the s10+ when it sai the battery life was one of the best:https://www.phonearena.com/news/Consumer-Reports-says-Galaxy-S10-Plus-is-the-best-smartphone_id114913/comments?post=2164906#post_2164906 we complain when they say the s10+ battery is crap when every other article states otherwise and even after they posted the consumer reports article, they deleted it soon after since it pretty much denounces their reputation (if they had any).

9. lyndon420

Posts: 6828; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

We're not talking about one liners on a page of pics. The main point of the article is TSMC and their advancements...not apple. If they feel the need to include apple in the title, then some of the other customers should be mentioned in the title as well - or better yet none at all.

4. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Here comes the beast!

10. lyndon420

Posts: 6828; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

In Washington a 3 year old kid locked his parents out of their iPad for 48 years...there's an article that could be posted with apple in the title lol. /s

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