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Yield problems at TSMC could disrupt March launch for new iPads - report

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Apple chip supplier TSMC is encountering lower-than-expected yield rates for its new 10-nanometer manufacturing process, something that could potentially delay the launch of new iPads in March, a report claimed on Friday.

TSMC is hoping to start mass-producing "A10X" processors for new iPads early next year, but poor yields could interfere with schedules, sources informed DigiTimes. Apple needs to build up inventories for any given product launch, and low chip supplies can make that take longer.

Notably, however, Apple has never scaled to a more efficient manufacturing process solely for an "X" chip. With both the A9 and A9X for instance, Apple stuck largely to 16 nanometers, though some A9s were 14-nanometer models.

That could cast doubt on the DigiTimes report, especially given the publication's mixed track record with Apple products. At the same time, switching to 10 nanometers for an A10X would make the chip more efficient and/or save space, something crucial for keeping an iPad's weight down.

Apple is rumored to be launching three iPads next quarter: updated 9.7- and 12.9-inch models, and plus a new 10.5-inch format. Only the 10.5- and 12.9-inch models will allegedly use the A10X, turning the 9.7-inch tablet into a budget option.