Work on next year’s iPhone chips is already underway

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Apple chips are getting EMI shielding.
TSMC is building Apple's next-gen iPhone chips.
Photo: Apple

From the sound of things, Apple is focusing a lot of attention on next year’s iPhone launch as the biggest handset refresh since 2014’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Alongside OLED displays, wireless charging, an all-glass enclosure and a lack of physical home button, the iPhone 7s (or possibly iPhone 8 if certain rumors are to be believed) will also include a next-next-gen A11 chip. And Apple’s already working on it.

Given that Apple comes out with a new A-series chip each year, it’s little to no surprise that it expects the 2017-era iPhone chip to be an A11, but today’s report is interesting because it suggests that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the company chosen by Apple to manufacture the bulk of the A-series chips for next year’s iPhone refresh — potentially kicking Samsung to the curb.

TSMC has reportedly started to “tape out” the design for the A11 chipset, which will be manufactured using a cutting-edge 10-nanometer process. TSMC is likely to receive certification on the 10nm process later this year, and will then deliver product samples to Apple in the first quarter of 2017 — although it’s not clear whether this refers to fiscal Q1 for Apple (which would be the last three months of 2016) or calendar Q1.

The company will then start producing A11 chips in small volume and will eventually manufacture around two-thirds of faster and more efficient chips for the next-gen iPhone. TSMC is also rumored to be building Apple’s A10 chips in a contract it won over Samsung.

Last year, the battle to build the A9 chips for the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus got pretty heated before Apple eventually decided to split orders evenly between TSMC and Samsung.

Source: Digitimes