Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TMSC) is accelerating the production of its 7nm process technology to meet the strong demand from Apple and its fabless clients, a report from Taiwan recently said. 

Digitimes reported late last week that TSMC is in the process of moving its 7nm process technology — dubbed N7— to mass production earlier than expected due to strong demand for it. Industry sources said fabless clients MediaTek, Qualcomm and HiSilicon are already anticipating the new technology, significantly increasing the demand for the 7nm node manufacturing process for chips. 

While this is good news for TSMC’s N7 process, this is bad news for the company’s 10nm process because the fabless clients are reportedly intending to skip the latter to make use of the advantages of the newer technology. 

It can be noted that the 10nm process was used by Apple for its A11 Bionic chips for last year’s iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. Aside from the Cupertino giant, the technology also drew orders from FPGA chipmakers and AI developers. Sales generated from the 10nm process accounted for 19 percent of TSMC’s total wafer sales this first quarter. With fabless clients skipping the 2017 technology, its proportion could slide to just 10 percent in the fourth quarter. 

Thus far, Nvidia, HiSilicon, MediaTek and Xilinx were the only ones to have confirmed their adoption of TSMC’s 7nm process in their upcoming chip products. Other clients haven’t confirmed anything yet. 

TSMC is also planning things way ahead of next year. The foundry has disclosed that an improved version of its 7nm process, called N7 Plus, is launching next year. The upgraded version will have EUV lithography technology. 

Last month, Bloomberg learned from insiders that TSMC has begun the mass production of the 7nm A12 chips for the next-generation iPhones. The earlier start date was believed to be due to Apple’s plan of releasing its next flagship iPhone, rumored to be named iPhone 11, alongside the other models in September. 

Both Apple and TSMC refused to comment on the leaked information about the chipset, so it’s still not clear if Apple will indeed launch the trio of next iPhones at the same time this coming fall. 

TSMC TSMC is reportedly accelerating the production of its 7nm process technology due to strong demand. Photo: Reuters/Eason Lam