Entire TSMC 5nm capacity booked for iPhone 12, iPad Air, and iPad Pro's A14 chip: report

Entire TSMC 5nm capacity booked for iPhone 12, iPad Air, and iPad Pro's A14 chip: report
Although Samsung has manufactured Snapdragon chips before as well, this year would be the first time it won't have to share the order with another company. A couple of recent reports may explain the reason behind this.

Both Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) commenced 5nm chip production earlier this year. Apparently, TSMC's entire 5nm process capacity will be utilized by Apple through the end of the year.

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The semiconductor manufacturer will reportedly make chips for the iPhone 12, iPad Air, 5G iPad Pro, and the upcoming MacBook.

Is TSMC playing favorites? 

TSMC will seemingly make 80 million units of the A14 Bionic for the iPhone 12 this year. TSMC  supposedly started manufacturing 5nm chips in March this year and production capacity is constrained at the moment, something which is also evident by reports which suggest 5nm will only generate 8 percent of the company's total revenue in 2020.

Apple is believed to be one of TSMC's largest customers and it accounted for one-fifth of its revenue in 2019. This perhaps explains why the manufacturer is giving preferential treatment to Apple, while other companies wait in line. 

The Cupertino giant began the initial production of the iPhone 12 recently, narrowing the delay to weeks instead of months, per the Nikkei Asian Review. Production is currently said to be on a limited scale and volume will be increased gradually between the end of this month and early October. 

Apple had presumably ordered components for up to 80 million iPhone 12 units but the actual number manufactured this year may end up being 74 million at most, and the rest will be deferred into 2021.

Additionally, the company is also expected to boost orders for the new iPads. Per one estimate, around 27 million units of the new iPad models will be produced between September and December.

In a nuthsell, TSMC has its hands full with Apple products, which explains why Qualcomm has gone back to Samsung.

Mass production of the Snapdragon 875 has also kicked off

TSMC has been manufacturing flagship Snapdragon processors for the last few years. 

According to a South Korean publication, Samsung has already started manufacturing the Snapdragon 875, which makes sense as it will likely make a debut in December. 

TSMC's new process will apparently boost speed by 15 percent and achieve a 30 percent increase in power efficiency. Samsung, on the other hand, has touted a 10 percent increase in performance and a 20 percent bump in energy efficiency. 

Does that mean TSMC-made chips will perform better? Well, it's not as straightforward as it sounds and a lot of other factors also come into play. This also explains why often times phones powered by the same SoC feel different.

For now, it doesn't seem like the A14 Bionic will considerably improve the performance of the iPhone 12 when compared to the iPhone 11.

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