What do all four chipsets share in common? They’re designed with a 10nm FinFET fabrication in mind. Reports have been circling around TSMC, pretty much the contractor making Apple’s mobile application system-on-chips, and its inability to get desirable yields for its first 10nm chip destined for 2017 iPhones and iPads. The trouble, denied by company PR, seems to be reflected in word that a launch event for three iPads originally scheduled for early spring has been shifted to late spring.
Turns out that 10nm may be proving to be trouble for everyone in the industry.
Digitimes is reporting from inside chatter that TSMC still has not been able to achieve scalable pricing with its 10nm yield rate. The company is pushing back availability of its MediaTek job lot for the deca-core Helio X30 chipset, silicon that was expected to be in phones released in the second quarter.
Samsung is also on a tightrope between making 10nm chips for its in-house Exynos chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835. The launch timeframe for the company’s Galaxy S8 series of phones is reported to have been moved back — we are not clear if the longstanding talk of April sales reflects this — as certain regions will receive devices with either Exynos or Snapdragon chipset. The first Snapdragon 835 announced at MWC, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, may be set up for a May release.
Better phones are on the horizon with bigger screens and snappier cameras and market demand is expected to top rates seen last year. If yields improve subsitantially, Semiconductor companies may be able to ride out this wave and see a 10 percent improvement in shipments.
If not, manufacturers may be in a pickle to fight for current-gen silicon. Many production houses have moved all efforts to 10nm chips, leaving Snapdragon 821 and Helio X25 inventories dangerously finite.