Over these few years, Taiwanese chip maker TSMC has been propelled in the limelight. The fab has managed to score orders from Apple in the smartphone, and AMD in the PC space. For Apple's orders, TSMC's processes offer stiff competition to Korean tech giant Samsung's foundries. For AMD's, it's Intel that has come in the crosshairs. TSMC's been quick to launch new performance nodes, and if the company's estimates turn out correct, then we should see 5nm processors from its end pretty soon.
However, today we've come across a report suggesting that things might be proceeding smoothly over at TSMC. This report also lets us make an interesting inference about Apple's design decisions for the A13 SoC powering the iPhones 11. Take a look below for more details.
TSMC's 7nm+ (N7+) Yield Dropped To 70% Claims Source, Affecting Fab's Gross Margins
After 10nm, TSMC's first true node shrink is what the company markets as 7nm. Following this, we've got three iterations before the next node shrink takes place in the form of 5nm, or N5 as dubbed internally at TSMC. N5 should double transistor density compared to first-gen 7nm (N7) and improve performance by 15%.
N7 is followed by the N7P which uses standard deep ultraviolet lithography and doesn't make the shift to extreme ultraviolet patterning which enables much finer circuits to be implemented on the silicon. This shift is made on the N7+, and naturally, the process has created a lot of hype in the tech world.
Apple too was caught in the hype surrounding EUV prior to the iPhone 11 launch, with reports floating around about the A13 being fabricated on TSMC's first EUV-based process. However, now that it's certain that the Cupertino tech giant does not use N7+ for its chips, we've come across an interesting rumor in China floating on Weibo that might suggest the reason behind this decision. According to the details, TSMC's N7+ yield has dropped below 70% and ended up affecting the company's gross margin as well.
This naturally makes us speculate that perhaps yield problems didn't allow Apple to go with N7+ for the A13. After all, the EUV node would've let the company improve power efficiency and transistor density by 10% and 20% respectively. Or perhaps, Apple wanted to use a process that utilized EUV lithography for all layers instead of the select few chosen in N7+.
Thoughts? Let us know what you think in the comments section below and stay tuned. We'll keep you updated on the latest.