August 16, 2011

TSMC, Apple Commence Trial Production of A6 Processor


Taiwan Economic News reported last Friday that world’s largest semiconductor foundry service provider, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC), in cooperation with Apple, has kicked off the trial production of the A6 processor. According to industry sources, as per the report, TSMC will tape out the production design in the first quarter of next year with plans to unwrap it to the public in the second quarter at the earliest. 

For the next generation A6 production, TSMC is using its latest 28 nm process with 3D stacking technology, wrote Taiwan Economic News reporter Steve Chuang. Plus, A6, which is based on the ARM architecture, will undergo TSMC’s cutting-edge silicon interposer and bump on trace (BOT) methodologies, Chuang added. Although, TSMC has not commented on this partnership, industry insiders speaking to the reporter indicated that the A6 manufacturing will bring considerable momentum into TSMC’s business starting next year.  

According to the pundits, even though TSMC had the capacity to address Apple’s production needs in the past, it did not focus much on that relationship because all the production lines were busy meeting the demands of major semiconductor companies like Nvidia and Qualcomm. But, lately the industry has been experiencing a depression, prompting TSMC to build that relationship with Apple, wrote Chuang.

Meanwhile, due to declining demand for semiconductor chips, TSMC has projected its combined revenue for the third quarter of 2011 to drop over 6-8 percent to reach about $102 billion as compared to $104 billion for the second quarter, with the gross profit rate of 40.5-42.5 percent, reports Taiwan Economic News. However, the world’s largest foundry service provider indicated that its business operations will turn around in the fourth quarter when customer inventories are reduced. 

Additionally, as per Chuang’s report, another major beneficiary of A6 processor production is Taiwan’s leading semiconductor testing and packaging company, the Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. In fact, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering has partnered with TSMC to develop the 3D chip-packaging technology.

Media reports say that A6 could be a quad-core design, and is intended for Apple’s next generation products such as iPad 3.

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Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell



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