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The TSMC iPhone 6!

The TSMC iPhone 6!
by Daniel Nenni on 09-23-2014 at 7:00 am

 Fortunately Paul McLellan and I missed IDF. Paul was atop Mt. Kilimanjaro and I was in Taiwan signing books. After reviewing the materials and watching the videos we really didn’t miss much in regards to mobile so no regrets. The Apple event would have been fun even though I won’t be buying an iPhone6 or an iWatch and I will tell you why.

In case you missed it, the first iPhone 6 tear down is up on iFixit and surprise-surprise it is filled with silicon from TSMC’s customers (Apple A8, Qualcomm: modem, PM IC – RF transiever – LTE receive and envelope tracking, Murata wifi module, Broadcom touchscreen controller, NXP NFC, and chips from Skyworks, InvenSense, Avago and TriQuint). The absence of Samsung silicon was not a surprise however and it supports my theory that, given the choice, fabless companies will partner with pure-play over IDM foundries, absolutely. The fact that Samsung and Apple have intellectual property issues and Samsung has constant anti Apple advertisements probably does not help either but that comes with competing with your customers I suppose.

Also Read: Intel Core M vs Apple A8!

14nm may be a different story. Intel 14nm did not fit Apple’s requirements so they must choose between TSMC and Samsung or more than likely use a combination of both. 10nm will also be a different story as I have seen the Intel Foundry people at Apple and have heard tales of them aggressively pushing 10nm foundry services. Unfortunately, Intel corporate is still saying they have a 2-3 year lead on 10nm over the foundries and a 45% density advantage which is not true at all. As I mentioned before, the foundries are on schedule for 10nm product tape-outs in Q4 2015. Intel may have 10nm silicon out by then but I highly doubt it will be from foundry customers and the claimed 45% density advantage at 10nm is absolute nonsense. This goes against Intel’s credibility and trust is a significant factor when fabless companies choose a foundry partner, believe it.

Today, Intel Custom Foundry is suffering the same challenge as Samsung Foundry. Other groups within these companies are pissing off the fabless semiconductor ecosystem. This same thing happened at the start of the fabless revolution. The first fabless companies rented space from IDMs but when they started to need more fab space or once they started competing with the IDMs the relationship soured. As a result, the pure-play foundry model became dominant and the rest is history.

 In regards to the iPhone6, I find it funny that we worked so hard to make things smaller and now they are getting bigger! I don’t wear a watch so unless the iWatch does something truly amazing I don’t want the additional interrupts. The problem I have with the iPhone6 is the processor speed. I expected the dual cores to clock in at 2GHz versus the paltry 1.4GHZ. The A6 is 1.3GHz, the A7 is 1.3GHz, and the A8 is 1.4GHz. The A7 jumped from 32 to 64-bit so I can understand the comparable GHz but what is the A8’s excuse?

I think I know but I would like to hear your theories in the comment section before I share mine.

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