One of Apple’s go-to chip-makers, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), has started mass production on the next generation of iPhone chips, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Citing sources within the chipmaker, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu say Apple is likely to call the new chipset the A12 when it announces it later this year. What’s more, TSMC is reportedly using a 7-nanometre (nm) process to manufacture the new chip. Apple’s current top-of-the-line A11 processor is made using a 10nm process. Even without factoring in improvements to the overall design of the new chip, it’s likely to be more powerful and power efficient just based on the switch to 7nm.
Unless Samsung preempts Apple when it launches the Note 9 later this year, the new iPhone is likely to be the first smartphone to come with a 7nm chip. Bloomberg doesn’t explicitly whether TSMC is using extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography to produce the new chips, but if the chipmaker is, then the A12 will be a milestone in that regard, as well.
EUV lithography represents the latest advancement in chip-making. Unlike traditional chip lithography, the ultraviolet light used in EUV lithography can’t travel through air and can’t be focused using traditional optics and mirrors.
To date, chipmakers like Samsung have had issue manufacturing EUV-made chips at scale. At the end of last year, Samsung said it was on track to ship its first 7nm chip at the start of 2018. Its flagship Exynos 9810 chipset is still made using a 10nm process.