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Key iPhone supplier on track with the next breakthrough in chip innovation

Published Jul 17th, 2015 5:15PM EDT
Apple iPhone 7 10nm Processor TSMC

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Apple will launch its iPhone 6s family of smartphones in a couple of months, but don’t expect a major redesign just yet. The handsets should pack several improvements across the board when compared to the iPhone 6, which might be dismissed as “minor” by certain critics. However, that doesn’t mean Apple isn’t working on the next big thing, and an important Apple supplier has confirmed it’s on track with its work on one of the next-gen breakthrough innovations for mobile devices.

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TSMC is the company in question and it currently manufactures A8 and A9 chips for Apple. The processors go into iOS devices including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, respectively, and TSMC is fighting a fierce battle with Samsung for Apple’s orders.

In addition to preparing A9 mass production for the iPhone 6s, TSMC is also moving forward with plans to deploy 10nm FinFET chip technology. According to Digitimes, the 10nm chip production tech will move to risk production at the end of 2016 followed by mass production in the first quarter of 2017.

Processors built on 10nm technology will be even faster and more power-efficient than the chips currently used in iPhones and other devices. The winner of the 10nm race will likely be a courted supplier by smartphone OEMs including Apple.

The iPhone 6s is expected to have 14nm and 16nm A9 chips from Samsung and TSMC, respectively. The iPhone 6’s A8 processor is built on 20nm tech.

The report doesn’t mention Samsung, but the company is also likely on improving its own chip technology, not just for Apple, but for its own mobile division.

Meanwhile, IBM delivered the first 7nm chip, although it might take a few years until the technology is found in computers and mobile devices.

Finally, Apple is also working on further miniaturizing internal components for all sorts of devices, looking to maximize battery life in the process. Just look at the impressive motherboard of the 12-inch Retina MacBook, or the main board of the Apple Watch to get an idea of what’s already possible using current chip technology.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.