Apple to tap Samsung for some 5nm M1 SoC production?

Posted on Friday, November 13 2020 @ 9:02 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Probably the biggest tech news item of the week was Apple's reveal of its M1 SoC. We've known it was coming for a long time and so far the Cupertino-based tech giant's first computer processor seems like an impressive piece of technology. Based on everything we've seen so far, the chip could be a game-changer. It seems to have higher performance than people expected, as well as very good performance per Watt. It's still too early for real-world experiences with the device, but things are looking very good at this moment.

If the new Mac computers sell like hot cakes, Apple will need a lot of M1 supply. NotebookCheck reports TSMC may be unable to deliver the projected M1 order volume. As such, analysts are speculating that Apple will once again see itself forced to contract Samsung's foundry division.

TSMC's limited 5nm capacity is reportedly fully or close to fully booked, leaving no room for extra volume. Apple's M1 SoC is believed to account for a quarter of TSMC's current 5nm capacity, with most of the other capacity going to Apple's A14 Bionic SoCs.

Samsung is the only other foundry in the world capable of making 5nm chips, but the South Korean giant's chip process isn't as good as TSMC's. This could lead to chips with poorer performance or power characteristics than the ones made by TSMC.
Prior to 2015, Apple used to employ Samsung, as well as TSMC for SoC production. By the middle of the last decade, however, Apple realized that TSMC’s packaging technology is clearly superior, plus it also felt awkward collaborating with one of its direct smartphone competitors. It will be interesting to see how a new Apple - Samsung collaboration can proceed now that Apple is planning to emerge as an important player on the laptop and desktop processor market.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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