TSMC Gets to Work on Apple’s 10nm A11 Chips for 2017

Taiwanese component makers are currently scrambling to fulfill orders as the Cupertino firm is getting ready to kick off production of this year’s upcoming iPhones and iPads. Moreover, Apple’s engineers should now be close to completing work on a 2017 iPhone and have certainly been developing a 2018 iPhone for some time now.
“TSMC is expected to achieve certification on its 10nm process in the fourth quarter of 2016, and deliver product samples to the customer for validation in the first quarter of 2017, the sources continued,” reads the report from DigiTimes.

Providing all goes as planned, TSMC is expected to start producing A11 chips in small volumes as early as the second quarter of 2017. It’s thought the company will eventually manufacture around two-thirds of Apple’s entire A11 supply.

These A11 chips are likely to first appear in next year’s iPhone. Thanks to that new 10nm manufacturing process, they should be faster and more efficient than the chips we’re using today, burning through less battery life even when performing intensive tasks.

The A9 chipset Apple uses in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus today is manufactured using either a 16-nanometer process (when built by TSMC), or a 14-nanometer process (when built by Samsung).

A11: faster, smaller and more power efficient
Not much is known of the kind of power that the A11 chip will bring to next year’s iOS devices. DigiTimes states that these chips will be fabbed on TSMC’s ten-nanometer FinFET process. By comparison, the current generation A9 chip inside the iPhone 6s is being built on TSMC’s 16-nanometer and Samsung’s 14-nanometer process technology.

The ten-nanometer FinFET process is a state-of-the-art technology that has yet to be used in mass production of mobile chips. It will result in smaller semiconductor dies which consume less power and run faster than the chips built on 14 and 16-nanometer processes.

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