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Apple and TSMC Reported to be Readying 20-nm A7 Chip

Apple and TSMC Reported to be Readying 20-nm A7 Chip

A report today says that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is preparing to “tape-out” the design for a 20 nanometer A7 system-on-a-chip this month. Taping out is the term that means the initial design of the chip has been completed for creation of the masks that will be used to print the actual chips.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd Chairman Chang attends an investors' conference in Taipei


Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is expected to tape out Apple’s A7 processor on a 20nm process in March and then move the chip into risk production in May-June, which will pave the way for commercial shipments in the first quarter of 2014, according to industry sources.

The Digitimes report claims that TSMC will be using its “14-fab” facility at the Tainan Science Park in Taiwan to build the chips.

MacRumors talked about the report with Silicon-IP founder and former TSMC director Kurt Wolf about the report, and he said that TSMC did achieve certification on its 20-nm process in December, although a significant amount of work remains before production-worthy chips will be ready.

Wolf pointed out that Apple will have a number of options for this years iPhone and iPad lineups. Options will include smaller and more efficient versions of the existing A6 family based on a 28-nm process rather than the current 32-nm process, a more substantially modified A6 to boost power, or a new A7 chip built on the 28-nm process before being moved to 20-nm next year.

Wolf says he thinks Apple will be using both TSMC and Samsung to build chips in 2013.