TSMC Ramps up 7nm Chip Production for iPhones & Reveals the Development of Advanced SiP Technology for the 5G Era
According to the CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), they've started ramping up commercial production of chips built using 7nm process technology in addition to the news that they've developed Advanced SiP technology that will be important for 2019 smartphones supporting 5G networks.
Orders for Apple's custom A12 processor for use in the upcoming iPhones will play a major driver of TSMC's 7nm chip production growth in 2018, according to market sources.
The foundry has also secured 2019 orders for 7nm from 20 other customers including AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm. A Qualcomm win for TSMC would directly affect Samsung as we noted in a report that we posted a year ago.
TSMC held its technology symposium in Taiwan on June 21 during which Wei made the remark to dismiss recent speculation claiming TSMC's 7nm production yield rate had been raised at a slower-than-expected pace.
The ramp-up of 7nm chip output will boost TSMC's overall production capacity to 12 million 12-inch equivalent wafers in 2018, up 9% from 10.5 million units in 2017, Wei indicated, without elaborating on specific orders and customers.
TSMC will also start taping out chips built using an enhanced 7nm node with EUV in the second half of 2018, Wei noted. The foundry expects to move the node to risk production in the third quarter.
The 7nm with EUV is likely what companies like Apple will use in 2019 iPhones and iPads.
TSMC develops Advanced SiP technology
On another front today it's being reported that TSMC has been enhancing its IC packaging capability by developing system-level packaging technology.
TSMC has become a competitor to IC packaging specialists, such as ASE Industrial Holding, with its CoWoS (chip-on-wafer-on-substrate) and integrated fan-out (InFO) wafer-level packaging.
TSMC with its InFO packaging technology actually helped the foundry obtain all of the processor orders for Apple's iPhone 7/7 Plus smartphones, the sources indicated.
TSMC is expected to remain the sole foundry partner of Apple for its upcoming iPhones given that the foundry's backend InFO packaging brings competitiveness to its 7nm FinFET process, the sources said.
TSMC's backend packaging capability will continue to play a key role in helping the foundry secure exclusive orders for Apple's future A-series processors, the sources believe.
While continuing to enhance its backend CoWoS and InFO services, TSMC has developed its system-level packaging technology to step into the advanced SiP (system-in-package) field.
Called system-on-integrated-chips (SoIC), TSMC's SiP technology will be competing with its counterparts rolled out by the world's major dedicated packaging companies like ASE and Amkor in the 5G era, according to market sources.
SoIC was first introduced by TSMC at its technology symposium held recently in Silicon Valley.
SiP is being regarded as an important packaging technology in the 5G era of high-speed connectivity. SiP packaging demand, as well as demand for related substrates and other components, will receive a boost when 5G-capable smartphones become commercially available, the sources said.
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