iPhone 7 Chip Manufacturer Counts Cost of Earthquake Damage

The sole company responsible for manufacturing the processor in Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has reduced its shipping estimates after its facilities were damaged in an earthquake (via DigiTimes).

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) suffered the damage to its plants on February 6 when a 6.4-magnitude quake struck the southern part of the country.

Initially, TSMC reported that the damage incurred would reduce the amount of chips it could ship by less than 1 percent. However, this morning the company revised that estimate and said shipment numbers could be affected over the 1 percent mark, but stopped short of giving a specific number.

Mockup of iPhone 7 case showing flush rear camera and no antenna bands across rear

Despite the earthquake, TSMC stated it is confident of hitting target revenues of $5.9-6.0 billion in the first quarter of 2016. Whether the damage will affect production of the iPhone 7 chip, which is expected to begin in June, remains unclear.

TSMC reached a deal with Apple only last week to become the sole manufacturer for the iPhone 7’s processor, partly thanks to its 10-nanometer manufacturing process. Apple used both Samsung and TSMC to manufacture the chips for the iPhone 6s, perhaps in a bid to lower risks, but the arrangement caused some controversy after benchmarks indicated performance variances between the companies’ processors.

The processor in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is likely called the A10. Both devices are expected to debut in September. Leaks of the phones’ design suggest that it may have a flush rear camera and a lack of antenna bands on its back. Other rumors indicate that the 7 Plus may feature a dual-lens camera system and that it may be waterproof and not have a headphone jack.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7
Tags: TSMC, A10
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iPhone 7 Chip Manufacturer Counts Cost of Earthquake Damage

Rumored A10 Production Win for TSMC Could Be Tied to Device Packaging Advances

According to a recent report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times, via EE Times and a separate research report from KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, Taiwan-based TSMC may have won sole production rights on the A10 chip slated for the next-generation iPhone 7.

This is in contrast to the split production of the A9 processor between Samsung and TSMC featured in the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Apple’s decision to revert back to TSMC as a single supplier, as was seen in A8 chip production, could be motivated by advanced device packaging techniques offered by TSMC that may not have equivalents in Samsung’s packaging offerings.

The Commercial Times report mentions TSMC’s integrated fan-out wafer-level packaging (InFO WLP) technology as one of the key inclusions in the production contract. InFO WLP is one of many competing 3D IC technologies that promise higher levels of component integration in a single package with better electrical characteristics.

Among those improvements is the possibility for higher-width memory buses that support lower-power operation necessary for mobile devices, which for consumers means better performance and efficiency. 3D IC technologies are just beginning to emerge in the consumer space, with AMD‘s use of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) in its Fiji XT line of discrete graphics cards being one of the first implementations.

According to a paper abstract from TSMC engineers, InFO WLP also allows for better thermal performance as well as superior performance for radio frequency (RF) components such as cellular modems. We reported last year about Apple hiring more engineers to potentially bring RF component development in house, so this packaging technology could serve as additional motivation to Apple for packaging in the future. Even if Samsung could offer Apple a comparable technology, the challenges of verifying a design on two new manufacturing flows may be a motivating factor for Apple to stick with one supplier for its next processor.

In the near term, the thermal advantages and potential increased memory bandwidth are the more immediate sources of improvement for Apple’s potential next chip. Many 3D IC technologies have seen slow adoption due to increased costs and processing steps, but the simpler InFO WLP technology offers an easier, cheaper entry point for Apple, which also has the luxury of uncommonly high margins on its devices.

Comparison of packaging technologies offered by TSMC

TSMC’s InFO WLP differs from many competing 3D IC solutions in that it does not require an additional silicon interposer along with the existing package substrate used for component integration. Though they do not feature active components, silicon interposers are made on silicon wafers just like the application processors featured in mobile devices, making them a costly addition to the device assembly.

InFO WLP allows multiple flip chip components to be placed side-by-side on a package substrate resembling a traditional assembly, but with the ability to interconnect to one another through the package substrate. This is in contrast to traditional methods which feature stacked packages (package on package, or PoP) interconnected with tiny wires. As mobile memory technologies advance, with LPDDR4 being the latest iteration, electrical signaling becomes an increasing technological challenge which begins to make 3D IC technologies more attractive for enhanced performance.

The list of included components would not be limited to memory, however, so future device teardowns will be interesting as mobile devices begin to include these technologies. More information on TSMC’s packaging technologies can be accessed via this PDF.

Related Roundup: iPhone 7 (2016)
Tags: TSMC, A10 chip
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Rumored A10 Production Win for TSMC Could Be Tied to Device Packaging Advances

Chipgate FAQ: Everything you need to know about iPhone 6s controversy

If you’re confused about the so-called ‘Chipgate’ controversy swirling around the Internet today, we’re here to help. It just wouldn’t be an iPhone launch without something going awry, and the latest outcry concerns the relative performances of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus’ A9 processors, especially their effects on the phones’ battery lives. And if […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Chipgate FAQ: Everything you need to know about iPhone 6s controversy

Apple denies Chipgate means iPhone 6s battery woes

The Chipgate controversy upsetting iPhone 6s owners over the past 48 hours is completely overblown, Apple said this afternoon, claiming battery life on iPhone 6s units varies only slightly. iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus owners have discovered that devices with a TSMC A9 chip get considerably better battery performance than ones sporting an A9 […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Apple denies Chipgate means iPhone 6s battery woes

Real-world tests show benefits of iPhone 6s with the ‘good’ chip

iPhone 6s units with a TSMC A9 processor score two hours’ better battery life over those with Samsung chips in GeekBench test scores, but real-world gains of the “good” chip might be much less significant. Several YouTubers have put the iPhone 6s TSMC and Samsung A9 chips to the test in real-world scenarios to get […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Real-world tests show benefits of iPhone 6s with the ‘good’ chip

Samsung may be ruining your iPhone 6s’ battery life

It’s been two weeks since Apple launched the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but a new controversy is brewing online revealing not all iPhone 6s units get the same amount of battery life, thanks to the new A9 processor that’s been built by both Samsung and TSMC. Apple dual sourced A9 production from TSMC […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Samsung may be ruining your iPhone 6s’ battery life

A9 Chip Manufacturing Split 60/40 Between TSMC and Samsung, Not Segmented by Device Size

Teardowns of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus have revealed two different A9 chips inside the devices, one created by TSMC and one developed by Samsung, which is slightly smaller in size, having been manufactured on a 14-nanometer process instead of a 16-nanometer process.

There was early some speculation that the chips were divided by model, with the iPhone 6s getting the smaller Samsung chip and the iPhone 6s Plus receiving the larger TSMC chip, but new data collected by an iOS developer suggests that is not the case.

Hiraku Wang has created an app that’s able to determine whether an iPhone has a TSMC chip or a Samsung chip, and has shared some data on results gathered from users who have installed his app.

According to results from approximately 2,500 iPhones, there are more TSMC chips than Samsung chips. TSMC chips were found to be installed on 58.96 percent of devices, compared to 41.04 percent for Samsung chips.

The iPhone 6s Plus appears to have relatively equal split of Samsung and TSMC chips, with slightly more Samsung chips. Of 1,329 iPhone 6 Plus devices, 56.81 percent have the Samsung chip while 43.19 percent have the TSMC chip.

With the iPhone 6s, the numbers skew heavily towards the TSMC chip. Of 1,086 devices, 78.27 percent have the TSMC chip while 21.73 percent have the Samsung chip.

At this point in time, there is no evidence that the two chips perform differently, as more extensive testing must be done to determine any performance discrepancies. Though the chips are two different sizes, it’s highly unlikely there are going to be performance differences large enough to be noticeable during daily usage.

It is possible for users to check which chip version is installed in their iPhones using Wang’s tool, but users should be cautious about installing an app via enterprise certificate from an untrusted developer. We do not recommend MacRumors readers install the app.



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A9 Chip Manufacturing Split 60/40 Between TSMC and Samsung, Not Segmented by Device Size

TSMC Said to Begin Exclusive Production of A10 Chip for iPhone 7 in March 2016

Less than a week after the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus were announced, the overseas supply chain is reportedly already preparing for production and component certification ahead of the iPhone 7.

Taiwan-based China Times reports (via G4Games) that Apple supplier TSMC has secured exclusive orders for the A10 chip based on a 16-nanometer manufacturing process.

The report claims TSMC will begin mass production of the A10 chip in March 2016 ahead of the iPhone 7 launching in the fourth quarter.

iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are powered by Apple’s new A9 chip, which is believed to be manufactured by both TSMC and Samsung, while the iPad Pro features a more powerful A9X processor.

The report adds that TSMC will continue producing the A8 chip, which is used for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, sixth-generation iPod touch and the new Apple TV launching in late October.



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TSMC Said to Begin Exclusive Production of A10 Chip for iPhone 7 in March 2016

Spy who may have helped Samsung win A-series chip orders loses in court

Taiwan’s top court has ruled in favor of TSMC in a dispute involving a former employee who leaked trade secrets to Samsung — potentially helping the South Korean tech giant catch up in the chip fabrication business and win orders for Apple’s A-series processors. Samsung wasn’t named directly in the suit, although there’s little doubt […]

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Spy who may have helped Samsung win A-series chip orders loses in court