Apple and TSMC Reportedly Completing Designs for 20-nm A7 Chip With Early 2014 Availability

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 14, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Digitimes reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will "tape out" the design for an A7 system-on-a-chip built on a 20-nanometer process this month. Taping out refers to the initial design of the chip having been completed for creation of the masks that will be used to print the actual chips, although further tweaks are likely as test production is carried out.
    The report claims that TSMC will be using its "14-fab" facility at the Tainan Science Park in Taiwan to build the chips.

    We talked with Silicon-IP founder and former TSMC director Kurt Wolf about the report, and he notes that TSMC did achieve certification on its 20-nm process in December, although a significant amount of work remains before production-worthy chips will be ready.

    With Apple undoubtedly preparing to launch new iPhone and iPad models this year before the rumored 20-nm A7 is ready in early 2014, Wolf points out that Apple has a number of options for this year's lineup. Those options include smaller and more efficient versions of the existing A6 family based on a 28-nm process rather than the current 32-nm process, a more substantially modified A6 to boost power, or a new A7 chip built on the 28-nm process before being moved to 20-nm next year. Wolf believes that Apple will be using both Samsung and TSMC to build its 2013 chips.

    A report from last October had claimed that Apple and TSMC would be working together on 20-nm chips for 2014, and today's report seems to be in line with those claims. Earlier this week, we discovered a smaller version of the A5 chip inside the tweaked Apple TV and initially thought that it might be built on a smaller process node or come from TSMC, but further examination revealed that it is still a 32-nm chip from Samsung. It has, however, undergone a substantial redesign in order to achieve a nearly 50% reduction in size.

    Article Link: Apple and TSMC Reportedly Completing Designs for 20-nm A7 Chip With Early 2014 Availability
     
  2. macrumors 68000

    SPUY767

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    #2
    That's a pretty big jump in transistor density. Excited to see these chips.
     
  3. macrumors regular

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    #3
    Good. Get as many components out of Samsung's hands as possible.
     
  4. macrumors 65816

    flottenheimer

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    #4
    Is anything known about the A7 yet?
    Any qualified guesses (or rumors) on specs and performance vs. A5/A6?
     
  5. macrumors 68040

    D.T.

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    #5
    So the "next gen" chip for 2014, that leaves one refresh cycle with the current processors ... I'd assume that indicates:

    Pad 5 with a new form factor, improved camera, but same A6X

    Mini updated to the A6X too for a retina version

    And since this is an "S" year for the iPhone, same A6 SOC, improved camera (potentially some of the other things like fingerprint reader, etc)

    _Maybe_ migration of the standard mini to the A6

    Figuring we'll see at least one shrink on the A6 family too, especially for accommodating the same battery life in a smaller chassis (iPad) or same battery life with the addition of retina resolution (Mini).
     
  6. macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #6
    What Wolf says is gospel in my opinion when it comes to predictions alone. I agree with him unless legitimate leaks say otherwise.
     
  7. macrumors 68040

    KdParker

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    #7
    Still waiting for the new iPhone design/s. Hopefully some good things are coming.
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    nick_elt

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  9. macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    so.. what would the nm be if they could design them at the atomic level? every atom exactly where they wanted?
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    extricated

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    #10
    This is very good to hear - even if it is being reported by Digitimes.
     
  11. macrumors 603

    Menel

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    #11
    Not surprising.

    A6 is incredibly powerful for a handset, and nothing even comes close to taxing it. It has CPU and GPU power in excess. Updating it this year makes no sense.

    Add new features.
     
  12. macrumors regular

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    #12
    Its getting to be amazing the amount of processor power that we will all have in our pockets.
     
  13. macrumors 68000

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    #13
    How dare u!

    If u really are an apple fan than you wouldn't want to use your iPhone that has brains made by Samsung
     
  14. CJM
    macrumors 65816

    CJM

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    #14
    The A6 is a beast.. I wonder what kind've tasks they will have the A7 perform.
     
  15. macrumors 68000

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    #15
    Transistors are getting really, really small.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    Rocketman

    #16
    This chip will be fast enough for a desktop or laptop implementation. Apple's current meme seems to be pad centric with airplay to larger monitors.

    It could shift to servers as well:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=16991936&postcount=12

    Rocketman
     
  17. macrumors regular

    machpost

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    #17
    I was wondering the same thing. 1982 called, and they want their logo back.
     
  18. macrumors 68040

    Dwalls90

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    #18
    TSMC is ramping up to take over Apple's business before end of 2014, that's less than two years!
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    flavr

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  20. macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #20
    Glad we're focusing on the important stuff.

    Why should a company with no consumer sales care how well their logo is received?
     
  21. macrumors 68020

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    #21
    The bad part about Apple doing their own CPU architecture based on ARM is that we do not find out the gory but fun details of the processor. We found out the true nature of the A6 pretty late and I wonder if anything about A7 will leak out any time soon. But yes it'll be a fascinating thing to find out if Apple has indeed moved to TSMC and what components will be in A7.
     
  22. macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #22
    We can make an educated guess. Swift (A6) shares a lot of similarities (number of pipeline stages, frequency, in addition to shared ISA v7s) to Qualcomm's Krait core.

    Here's an article on the updates to the Krait core coming soon (HTC One will have it, for instance):

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6568/qualcomm-krait-400-krait-300-snapdragon-800

    The radio talk is relevant too.
     
  23. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    #23
    Apple and TSMC together at last? Maybe it's time to dump the TSM stock. Since I suggested it 2 years ago, it's had a pretty decent return, no? :cool:
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    nick_elt

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    #24
    remind me not to hire you in management of my company. How others perceive you is important in any business. Whether they have consumer sales or not, they still have to sell to their customers.
     
  25. macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

    Joined:
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    #25
    And a logo is not a legitimate impression vehicle in a supplier based business.

    I would remind my management to fire anyone who dismisses a company as a supplier because they don't like their logo.
     

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