TSMC Executive Says they're testing 7nm Chips for 12 Top Customers & will Ramp up Production in H2 2018
Last September Patently Apple posted a report titled "TSMC is Confident in their Superior 7nm Chips Being Ready for the 2018 iPhone." TSMC's CEO Mark Liu stated at their second quarter performance presentation in 2016 that he believed that their "7-nano chips are superior than Samsung Electronics' chips in PPA index that indicates Power, Performance, and Area. We are going to start on tape-out on 7-nano chips in first quarter of next year and start mass-producing in early 2018."
Today we got an update to TSMC's schedule and they're very close to their original prediction. The Nikkei is reporting that TSMC is currently "testing cutting-edge 7-nanometer chips for 12 customers, and the company will start to make the product in large quantities in the first half of 2018."
With Apple being TSMC's number one customer, it's likely that Apple will be able to secure 7nm processors in sufficient quantity for their 2018 iPhone.
TSMC'S Co-Chief Executive C. C. Wei stated at a company symposium today that TSMC is well-prepared to face intensifying competition from Samsung Electronics. "We will always be the most trusted technology and capacity provider for customers for many years to come," said Wei.
Wei further noted that his company spent more than $2.2 billion in 2016, or more than 7.4% of TSMC's annual revenue last year, and more than 5,400 engineers were committed to research and development.
The two companies have long been jostling for market share, and TSMC appears to have the upper hand for now. Apple will adopt TSMC's 10-nanometer chips for iPhone's upcoming 10th anniversary range.
Separately, TSMC Asia-Pacific Senior Director Tsai Chih-chun stated that Chinese smartphone brands could slow down significantly this year and may be difficult to reach the 10% growth in shipments this year as new iPhones will squeeze demand for other handsets.
Tsai further added that "iPhone changes such as cancellation of the home button and the increase of screen ratio in the flagship handset coming out in the second half of 2017 are features Chinese companies may be eager to replicate.
Nobunaga Chai, an analyst at the research unit of Taipei-based electronics publication Digitimes noted that because "Samsung designs many chips for its own use, and makes its own end products, it could somehow compete with the clients that it wants to pursue such as Apple. It is doubtful whether Samsung could convince its potential competitors to hand over their design blueprints." For more on this, read the full Nikkei report here.