Apple's Chip Partner TSMC Shares Details on 7nm Node and Advanced InFO Package Process for 2018

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    At the Open Innovation Platform Ecosystem Forum in Santa Clara on Wednesday, chip foundry TSMC provided an update (via EE Times) on the progress of its forthcoming technology nodes, several of which would be candidates for upcoming Apple chips. Most notably, the company's first 7-nanometer process node has already had several tape-outs (finalized designs) and expects to reach volume capacity in 2018.

    TSMC's 10 nm node, which first showed up in Apple's A10X chip in the iPad Pro, followed by the A11, has been fraught with issues (paid link) such as low chip yield and performance short of initial expectations. TSMC looks to change its fortune with the new 7 nm node, which would be suitable for the successor to the A11 chip given current timelines.

    In addition to the 7 nm node, TSMC also shared information on the follow-up revision to this node, dubbed, N7+. Featuring the long-beleaguered Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUV), the revision would promise 20 percent better density, around 10 percent higher speeds, or 15 percent lower power with other factors held constant.

    While EUV has faced delays for over a decade at this point, it seems to finally be coming to fruition, and a 2019 volume availability update would allow Apple to update its chip process in subsequent years yet again. Apple had previously updated process nodes with every iPhone since the transition to 3GS before being forced to use TSMC's 16 nm node in consecutive years with the A9 and A10. Moving forward, that annual cadence is again in jeopardy as chip foundries deal with the realities of physics and minimum transistor geometry sizes.

    TSMC also unveiled some low power and low leakage processes that are suitable for Apple's other custom designs, such as its line of wireless chips like the W1 and successor W2. TSMC is targeting availability next year of a 22 nm ultra low leakage node, which is suitable for analog and RF designs such as cellular basebands or Wi-Fi chips.

    This will ultimately help Apple further lower power consumption on the Apple Watch and headphones featuring the W line of wireless chips. It is also likely to be adopted by Qualcomm for its line of modem products. The W1 and W2 manufacturing processes are not currently publicly known, but it is likely that one of TSMC's RF-focused processes powers the Apple chips.

    Finally, TSMC announced a revision of its integrated fan-out packaging process (InFO) that is targeted at integrating high bandwidth memory (HBM) into the assembly, dubbed InFO-MS. HBM has generated a lot of interest from applications where very high sustained memory bandwidths are desired, such as consumer graphics cards.

    HBM and similar standards such as Wide I/O promise not only to improve memory bandwidth, but also improve power consumption for a given bandwidth, making it a suitable evolution for mobile SoC designs. This type of memory interface has yet to appear in a mobile design, though it should be considered a near-term eventuality. Despite advances in mobile memory, it still lags behind desktop and laptop systems in total bandwidth, which can be important in some tasks such as graphics rendering.

    Article Link: Apple's Chip Partner TSMC Shares Details on 7nm Node and Advanced InFO Package Process for 2018
  2. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    all it freaking takes is 10 minutes of Jony's time to redesign TSMC's horrid logo. is it that hard?
  3. whiteboytrash macrumors 6502

    Jul 15, 2007
    I was thinking the same thing! That logo is straight out of 1972.
  4. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
  5. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    You want a black notch at the top of the logo ?
  6. MaciMac100 macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2014
    No, A8 was 20nm. A9 and A10 were 16nm.
  7. macduke macrumors G3


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    7nm? What is that, like 30 silicon atoms across? We're getting really close to the end!
  8. YegorH macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2010
    That logo... I don't blame those who stand behind its creation, but those, who approved it and said: "Yes, this is the best logo for our company".
  9. Exponent macrumors regular

    Jul 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley
    I've been a customer of TSMC for over 15 years, and I love their logo: that's what we use TSMC for, to get a wafer back, and we better be aware of yield! (Represented the black -i.e. unworking - squares in the wafer.)

    As a matter of fact, I was at this conference Wednesday, and a tool vendor concerned with yield made the point that changes in the logo represent (forgetting exact percentage) a 20% increase in yield over the past 10 years :)
  10. Nozuka macrumors 68020

    Jul 3, 2012
    i guess that's the start of iphone 2018 rumors.
  11. DTphonehome macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2003
    So this is the likely candidate for the iPhone X2 (or is it XS)?
  12. lunarworks macrumors 65816

    Jun 17, 2003
    Toronto, Canada
    The logo is atrocious, but I can forgive it simply for the fact that it's almost never publicly seen. Outside of tech enthuiast sites, it's a completely obscure company.
  13. creediddy macrumors regular

    Sep 11, 2014
    Can't wait...My predications GB4:

    A11X = 5000 single core / 17,000 multicore
    A12 = 5500 single core / 20,000 multicore

    This looks about right!
  14. WildCowboy Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Thanks, we'll fix it.
  15. dampfnudel macrumors 68030

    Aug 14, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    I hope there are no issues with the A11 because it looks like TMSC's 10nm process may be more of a temporary fix until they get the 7nm process going. In another blog I read something about the 10nm process being "leaky", resulting in low yields, etc. I wonder if any other Apple products will ever get the A11 if problems persist. Then this could be an issue for several more years until the next breakthrough comes. Explains the delayed release of the X.
  16. catportal macrumors regular


    Aug 11, 2016
    "7nm" is marketing. It's just a name for the process technology. The transistors aren't actually 7nm. Think back to "4G vs LTE", 4G was actually 3G, LTE Is actually real 4G.
  17. ghostface147 macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2008
    Intel never made their processors. TSMC doesn't make modems.
  18. imran5720 macrumors regular


    Dec 21, 2013
    Yesss lets get rid of Samsung processors
  19. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    The relatively low IPC improvement on the A11 shows Apple has gathered most of the low hanging fruit for performance increases.

    This 7nm node will be important. With the A11 and A10X not showing much clock increases, it's further evidence 10nm is a half-node step.
  20. imran5720 macrumors regular


    Dec 21, 2013
    intel never made processors, Samsung was second manufacturer
  21. dampfnudel macrumors 68030

    Aug 14, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Definitely looks that way based on the reports we're getting. The A12 will be more important than we think.
  22. zakarhino macrumors demi-god


    Sep 13, 2014
    Bay Area, CA.
    Saved Jony the time of mocking up:

  23. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    looks better already
  24. BornAgainMac macrumors 603


    Feb 4, 2004
    Florida Resident
    I wonder how many more nanometers before the wall is hit? When will they update their 1970s logo?

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