Low TSMC 10nm chip yields could ‘disrupt’ early 2017 iPad release schedule
Unless Apple is altogether giving up on the long-struggling tablet market, which seems unlikely, a number of new iPads must be right around the corner, considering this fall’s unusual lack of activity on that front.
But the Cupertino-based tech giant’s reliance on the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry might end up costing it a precious few extra months. Unfortunately, it sounds like TSMC’s sizzling hot 10nm chips won’t be ready for primetime (read mass production) very soon, making it impossible to launch 10.5 (or 10.9), 9.7 and/or 7.9-inch 2017 iPad upgrades as early as March.
It’s probably too late to source A10X processors from a different supplier as well, or go back to the drawing board and use an older, larger node. Besides, Samsung is reportedly facing its own batch of 10nm yield problems, even forcing Qualcomm to settle for a 14nm fabrication process as far as the next-gen mid-end Snapdragon 660 is concerned.
That’s still a major step forward from the SD650’s 28nm roots, with the 10nm-powered Snapdragon 835 likely capable of sticking to its original release timetable. Back to Apple, a TSMC-made 10nm A11 SoC has been widely rumored to exclusively find its way inside next year’s iPhone 8 (and presumably, the 7s and 7s Plus too), but by summer, you can definitely count on a happy end to “lower-than-expected” yield rates.