The world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry will reportedly be the only manufacturer of processors for Apple’s next-generation smartphone.
According to The Electronic Times, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has struck a deal with Apple whereby it will become the sole supplier of the Cupertino-based tech giant’s new A-series chip for the so-called “iPhone 7.”
TSMC has reportedly been chosen by Apple mainly for its 10-nanometer manufacturing process, which can make for more powerful yet more efficient chip performance. The chip, which will likely be called “A10,” is said to go into mass production in June, several months before the expected launch of the iPhone 7.
Apple’s next-generation smartphone is likely to make its debut in September. It’s rumored to drop the ubiquitous 3.5mm headphone jack and require Lightning or Bluetooth headphones instead, lose the rear antenna bands and the camera bulge found on the iPhone 6 line, be both dustproof and waterproof, and have dual-lens cameras. Its larger “iPhone 7 Plus” version might also be offered with up to 256GB storage, double the current 128GB largest-capacity option.
TSMC vs. Samsung
For its current line of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus smartphones, Apple adopted a dual sourcing strategy with the fabrication of its A9 chips handled by both TSMC and Samsung. Although TSMC manufactured on a 16-nanometer process and Samsung used a 14-nanometer process, difference in performance between the two companies’ chips were not to be expected.
However, just a couple of weeks after the launch of the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus, it was discovered through benchmarking tests that units of the smartphones with chips made by TSMC could have dramatically better battery life than those with chips made by Samsung.
In response, Apple argued that some tests do not lend themselves well to real-world battery life evaluation. “Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state,” the company said. “Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3 percent of each other.”
According to a recent report, TSMC is planning to roll out its 7-nanometer process node as soon as 2018 and its 5-nanometer process node by 2020. Future iPhone processors built on 7-nanometer or 5-nanometer technology are then expected to be faster, more powerful, and less power-hungry.