Industry sources have claimed today that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and its Integrated Circuit Design service partner Global UniChip have secured a three-year agreement with Apple to supply foundry services for the next A-series chips built using 20nm, 16nm and 10nm process nodes. This confirms our May report.
TSMC will start to manufacture Apple's A8 chips in small volume in July 2013, and substantially ramp up its 20nm production capacity after December, the sources revealed. The foundry will complete installing a batch of new 20nm fab equipment, which is capable of processing 50,000 wafers, in the first quarter of 2014. The sources did not identify whether TSMC would be the sole supplier of these Apple-designed chips.
The upcoming Apple A8 processor will be found in a new iPhone slated for release in early 2014, and the A9/A9X chips will be used in the newer-generation iPhone and iPad products, the sources claimed. This is the third time that a rumor pointed to a new iPhone in Q1 2014.
Additionally, DigiTimes reports that a portion of the upcoming production capacity could later be upgraded to process wafers used to build 16nm chips. TSMC is scheduled to volume produce the Apple A9 and A9X processors starting the end of third-quarter 2014.
TSMC chairman and CEO Morris Chang remarked previously that the foundry's 16nm FinFET process would enter mass production in less than a year after ramping up production of 20nm chips.
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