As companies like Intel and TSMC plan future processors and chip designs that use extremely small scale production processes, AppleInsider takes a moment to explain what die shrinking is, how it can benefit everyone involved, and how it's now an extremely difficult feat to perform.
Apple chip partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co has commenced production of the next iPhone System-on-Chip, the Apple-designed "A13," one that is thought to start mass production in May ahead of the annual iPhone refresh in September.
Following its work on a 7-nanometer chip production process, TSMC has revealed it has created a 6-nanometer version that has the potential to be ready for mass production in time to make Apple-designed A-series chips destined for the 2020 iPhones.
Apple's "A13" processor will use a 7-nanometer process for its production, but chip foundry TSMC is reportedly planning to use a different enhanced process to the current version it has come up with, named "N7 Pro."
TSMC has completed its design infrastructure for creating chips using a 5-nanometer process, a major step that could enable future Apple designs of its A-series processors to shift to a smaller die than the current 7-nanometer production process, and faster than it has made the shift before.
Apple chip partner TSMC has issued a warning on its financial situation, advising of reduced revenue growth and plans to cut its investments as the company combats the global smartphone market slowdown that has affected many other device producers.
TSMC and Foxconn, two of Apple's major iPhone production partners, have reported street-beating revenue for November, casting some doubt on supply chain reports suggesting component suppliers are struggling following iPhone production cuts.
Companies within the iPhone supply chain are apparently feeling the effects of Apple's alleged order cuts to varying degrees, as while some firms have revised their revenue estimates downwards, others like TSMC are said to avoid any major financial issues from the reductions.
Taiwan-based chip manufacturer TSMC is predicting modest growth in the new quarter, suggesting that production of smartphone chips — particularly for Apple's iPhone — will offset not just weakness in cryptocurrency mining, but risks caused by the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China.
Following Apple's A12 Bionic powering iPhone XS and iPhone XR models, Huawei has released its own custom 7nm ARM System on a Chip. But despite using the same fab process, Huawei's Kirin 980-powered Mate 20 Pro flagship lags far behind Apple's iPhone XS A12, turning in performance scores well below last year's A11 iPhone X.
Parts of the supply chain are tempering their expectations on iPhone sales for the remainder of 2018, a report claims, with weak sales said to be feared by suppliers based in Taiwan, despite the impending launch of the iPhone XR.
TSMC will continue to be the only supplier of Apple's A-series chips in 2019, according to a report, with the iPhone component supplier believed to secure orders for next year's "A13" chip following its success with this year's A12 production.
Huawei may be the second smartphone producer to use processors made using a 7-nanometer process, following Apple's use of the A12 chip in the iPhone XS, with the designed-in-house Kirin 980 processor thought to be using the same production process as Apple.
Intel is reportedly outsourcing some of its 14-nanometer chip production to Apple's iPhone and iPad chip manufacturer because of high demand, as it continues to have problems shifting to 10nm fabrication.