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Apple Supplier TSMC will Shake things up in 2020 by Launching both 5nm & 6nm Processors



Last week Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Supplier TSMC announces its 5nm Design is Complete and on Schedule for 2020," a design that Apple has been engaged in for some time. Now comes a twist that TSMC will introduce a secondary processor in 2020 based on 6nm.


It's being reported today in a supply chain report that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has announced its 6nm (N6) process, which provides a significant enhancement from its 7nm (N7) technology and offers customers a highly competitive performance-to-cost advantage as well as fast time-to-market with direct migration from N7-based designs.


By leveraging the new capabilities in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography gained from the N7+ technology currently in risk production, TSMC's N6 process delivers 18% higher logic density over the N7 process, the company claimed.


At the same time, its design rules are fully compatible with TSMC's proven N7 technology, allowing its design ecosystem to be reused.


TSMC's N6 technology is scheduled for risk production in the first quarter of 2020, with target applications including high-to-mid end mobile, consumer applications, AI, networking, 5G infrastructure, GPU, and high-performance computing.


Depending on the length of time 6nm will be in "risk production" the processor may be ready for 2020 devices or slip into 2021 for devices being announced at the MWC event in Spain in February 2021.  


In 2018, only Apple and Huawei invested and used TSCM's cutting edge 7nm processor while the rest of the industy used older processors for smartphones focused on the lower half of the market.


TSMC may have decided to add a secondary processor to their 2020 line-up to address the mid-tier market that can't afford the higher-end 5nm that Apple will be using in their flagship iPhone models.


The surprise twist may also open a door for Apple to use the new 6nm processor in a mid-tier iPhone to boost their competitive footprint against smartphones from competitors in China. It may also be a chip that could possibly be used in a future cellular MacBook and mid-tier iPads.


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