The war between TSMC and Samsung is going to be ongoing well through this decade. While TSMC had the bulk of Apple's A8 chip business, they'll only get about 30-40% of the business for Apple's A9 process with Samsung winning the lions share. Yesterday we reported that TSMC is confident in beating Samsung out for Apple's 10nm A10 SoC chip business in 2016 once their new plant is up to speed. Today we're finding out that TSMC will begin producing 7nm processors in 2017 with Xilinx being their first customer.
Xilinx, Inc. announced late yesterday that they were collaborating with TSMC on the 7nm process and 3D IC technology for its next generation of All Programmable FPGAs, MPSoCs, and 3D ICs. The technology represents the fourth consecutive generation where the two companies have worked together on advanced process and CoWoS 3D stacking technology, and will become TSMC's fourth generation of FinFET technology.
Xilinx plans to introduce new 7nm products in 2017.
President and Co-CEO of TSMC Mark Liu stated that they were "pleased to work with Xilinx to enable its fourth generation of breakthrough products."
Apple's A8 is a 64-bit ARM based system on a chip (SoC) designed by Apple Inc. It first appeared in the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus which was introduced on September 9, 2014. Apple stated at that time that the new processor had 25% more CPU performance and 50% more graphics performance while drawing only 50% of the power compared to its predecessor, the Apple A7.
Apple's A9 will appear in Apple's next iPhone due to arrive in September based on 14nm. The A10 will reportedly be based on 10nm for 2016 and in 2017 we could see Apple's iDevices powered by 7nm processors.
The speed of change in this industry sector is staggering. Along with the shift to smaller processors, TSMC revealed back in February that their in-house development of InFO-WLP technology will be first to market with their foundry's 16nm FinFET process manufacturing in 2016, and be ready for a more-advanced 10nm process in 2017.
Japan's i-Micronews noted that InFO-WLP technology "will enable high-definition video streaming and fast file transfer applications." This could be very appealing to Apple if they wish to introduce a live streaming TV service over the next two years for their iPhone. It will also be useful in context with MobileFirst apps for the enterprise for fast file transfers. So the road map for next generation processors is starting to look very interesting indeed as each generation of processor is bringing along with it new capabilities and new device features to keep the mobile race going strong for years to come.
Who knows, maybe one of these new processors might even be able to deliver enough power to advance 3D/VR headsets that are the buzz of late.