MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
54,102
15,887


Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC today announced its intention to build and operate an advanced semiconductor factory in Arizona, with construction planned to start in 2021 and production targeted to begin in 2024.

a13-chip-video.jpg

The facility will be able to manufacture around 20,000 wafers per month using TSMC's latest 5-nanometer fabrication process. TSMC has been gradually miniaturizing its process over the years, going from a 16nm A10 chip in iPhone 7 models to a 7nm A13 chip in iPhone 11 models. iPhone 12 models are expected to use a 5nm A14 chip.

TSMC estimates that its total spending on this project, including capital expenditure, will be approximately $12 billion from 2021 to 2029, with the facility expected to create over 1,600 high-tech professional jobs directly.

TSMC already operates a factory in Camas, Washington and design centers in both Austin, Texas and San Jose, California, so the Arizona facility would be its second manufacturing site in the United States. The company's main factories are in Taiwan.

Article Link: Apple's Chipmaker TSMC Announces Plan to Build Arizona Factory
 
Last edited:

IG88

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2016
872
1,249
Is it just me or does 20,000 chips per month seem pretty small?
I was thinking the same. But as noted above, TSMC's announcement says 20K wafers, not chips.

This facility, which will be built in Arizona, will utilize TSMC’s 5-nanometer technology for semiconductor wafer fabrication, have a 20,000 semiconductor wafer per month capacity,
 
Comment

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
35,717
39,009
Is it just me or does 20,000 chips per month seem pretty small?

The article indicates that they have other neighboring facilities In the U.S.(With the main source being in Taiwan) that manufacture chips also, this is just another addition to aid in manufacturing. I’m guessing the Arizona facility would probably alleviate some of the workload off the other facilities to make transitions to manufacture other iPhone SoCs/projects for the iPhone/iPad.
 
Comment

jmgregory1

macrumors 68030
This facility had better be able to produce more than 20k chips per month, otherwise I’d say the investment is not worth it. Even if they’re missing a zero in the number, making 200k units per month is such a paltry amount - what Apple product would that even support annually?
 
Comment

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
16,201
4,988
This facility had better be able to produce more than 20k chips per month, otherwise I’d say the investment is not worth it. Even if they’re missing a zero in the number, making 200k units per month is such a paltry amount - what Apple product would that even support annually?
I think it is supposed to be wafers, not chips. It wouldn’t make sense to spend $12 billion to make even 2.4 million chips per year.
 
Comment

neilw

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2003
345
426
New Jersey
If we assume 200 chips per wafer (that's a *really* rough guess, but likely correct to within an order of magnitude at least) than that's 4 million chips per month. Not enough for iPhones, but enough for Macs (and then some). :)
 
Comment

KPOM

macrumors P6
Oct 23, 2010
16,201
4,988
Now there needs to be a factory to assemble the phones in North America.
Mexico, perhaps. They will likely be a long-term beneficiary of the coronavirus crisis as companies move to diversify supply chains. The Arizona location for the chips may be strategic.
[automerge]1589548283[/automerge]
If we assume 200 chips per wafer (that's a *really* rough guess, but likely correct to within an order of magnitude at least) than that's 4 million chips per month. Not enough for iPhones, but enough for Macbooks. :)
That sounds about right. Remember the MacBook CPUs would likely use multiple chips (main processor, graphics, T2-equivalent, etc).
 
Comment

FlyBry

macrumors member
Jan 3, 2017
58
88
This facility had better be able to produce more than 20k chips per month, otherwise I’d say the investment is not worth it. Even if they’re missing a zero in the number, making 200k units per month is such a paltry amount - what Apple product would that even support annually?

20K Wafers - not chips. Wafers and chips come in different sizes which affects yield.

Each 300mm wafer has around 14,500 chips. Maybe 70% will be usable.
 
Last edited:
Comment

neilw

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2003
345
426
New Jersey
That sounds about right. Remember the MacBook CPUs would likely use multiple chips (main processor, graphics, T2-equivalent, etc).
I expect graphics will be integrated, for initial models. Tend to doubt if Apple will ever produce its own discrete GPUs (at least not for a while).
 
Comment

Moakesy

macrumors 6502a
Mar 1, 2013
548
1,105
UK
Manufacturing at 5 nanometers just blows my mind.
Don’t understand how in earth it’s done, but I love the fact it even exists.
 
  • Like
Reactions: EmotionalSnow
Comment

neilw

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2003
345
426
New Jersey
20K Wafers - not chips. Wafers and chips come in different sizes which affects yield.

Each 300mm wafer has around 14,500 chips. Maybe 70% will be usable.

14,500 per wafer is way high. Your earlier number of 500 was likely much closer to correct. My own 200 number was definitely low.


So assuming 500 per wafer, that's 10 million per month. Still not iPhone numbers, but more than enough for Mac chips plus maybe iPad Pro chips. Or some for other customers.
 
Comment

robinp

macrumors 6502a
Feb 1, 2008
637
1,299
This article seems to be full of errors. Says 20,000 chips when by all accounts it is 20,000 wafers. Number of chips depend on size of chip and size of wafer.

It also says that apple's A series chips have been progressively getting smaller. The process has been, but the chip die has not.

See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple-designed_processors

The smallest since A7 was A12 and the largest was A9X. If you ignore the X variants, the largest was the A9.

But the range, including the X variants, is 83mm2 to 144mm2. And for the non variant ones, 83mm2 to 104.5mm2. Not a huge variation. The great benefit of process shrinks is that you get more transistors into any given area.
 
Comment

neilw

macrumors 6502
Aug 4, 2003
345
426
New Jersey
But the range, including the X variants, is 83mm2 to 144mm2. And for the non variant ones, 83mm2 to 104.5mm2. Not a huge variation. The great benefit of process shrinks is that you get more transistors into any given area.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Mac CPUs are somewhat larger, with more cores on both the CPU and GPU sides. iPhone CPUs will probably hold in the 100 mm^2 range, since that has worked very well for them up to this point.

Of course, the idea that this factory would produce Mac CPUs is just a wild guess, although not an unreasonable one.
 
Comment

Joe Rossignol

Editor
Staff member
May 12, 2012
691
1,952
🇨🇦
Is it just me or does 20,000 chips per month seem pretty small?
I thought so as well. The original press release says wafers not chips.
I was thinking the same. But as noted above, TSMC's announcement says 20K wafers, not chips.
This facility had better be able to produce more than 20k chips per month, otherwise I’d say the investment is not worth it. Even if they’re missing a zero in the number, making 200k units per month is such a paltry amount - what Apple product would that even support annually?
I think it is supposed to be wafers, not chips. It wouldn’t make sense to spend $12 billion to make even 2.4 million chips per year.
This article seems to be full of errors. Says 20,000 chips when by all accounts it is 20,000 wafers. Number of chips depend on size of chip and size of wafer.

It also says that apple's A series chips have been progressively getting smaller. The process has been, but the chip die has not.

See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple-designed_processors

The smallest since A7 was A12 and the largest was A9X. If you ignore the X variants, the largest was the A9.

But the range, including the X variants, is 83mm2 to 144mm2. And for the non variant ones, 83mm2 to 104.5mm2. Not a huge variation. The great benefit of process shrinks is that you get more transistors into any given area.

My mistake. Honestly, I clearly don't know much about chipmaking, as I thought a wafer was synonymous with a single chip. I have updated the article! Thanks
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.