Production of the next-generation processor that will power new iPhones launching later this year, has reportedly already begun.
TSMC wants to spend more than $10 billion to expand its Hsinchu headquarters production facility, which includes a research and development centre, where it builds the latest chip technology.
The chip’s 7-nanometre (7nm) design is reportedly an upgrade from the 10-nanometre (10nm) chips found in current Apple devices. This 7nm technology refers to the density of transistors on a chip, though the precise specifications can differ between manufacturers. Using a smaller process allows for chips to be smaller, faster, and more efficient, and over time, it can lead to cost savings. Current leading processors on smartphones, like Apple’s A11 Bionic and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, are made with a 10nm process.
The chip could help Apple’s devices run apps faster and operate longer between charges, giving the iPhone maker an advantage in a competitive market that has experienced stagnant demand for new handsets. A lack of new hardware design innovation, along with longer replacement rates and diminishing carrier subsidies, have been blamed for the cooling.
Apple plans to launch at least a trio of new iPhones later this year, including a larger version of the iPhone X’s design, an update to the current iPhone X size, and a lower-cost model with many of the iPhone X’s features but with a cheaper LCD screen.
Also, Cupertino managed to grow its global smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2018 despite a market that experienced an overall decline in shipments. Apple hopes it can continue that trend with the 7-nanometer chip, but it is not alone.
This past Tuesday, 22nd May 2018, Samsung, Apple’s biggest competitor, said it will start building chips with a 7-nanometre process employing extreme ultraviolet lithography, a process that permits smaller features to be etched onto the silicon wafers that are the substrate for chip features.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.