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Apple now able to design 5nm A-Series chips for 2020 iPhones as TSMC hits key milestone

It’s looking like Apple chipmaker TSMC is on track for being able to produce 5nm A-Series chips for 2020 iPhones.

We heard as long ago as the beginning of last year that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company was gearing up for that target, and a new report today says that the firm has just hit a major milestone along the way …

Digitimes reports that the design infrastructure is now complete, enabling clients like Apple to begin work on their chip designs using the 5nm process.

TSMC has announced delivery of the complete version of its 5nm design infrastructure within the Open Innovation Platform (OIP). This full release enables 5nm systems-on-chip (SoC) designs in next-generation advanced mobile and high-performance computing (HPC) applications, targeting high-growth 5G and artificial intelligence markets.

TSMC said leading EDA and IP vendors collaborated with it to develop and validate the complete design infrastructure, including technology files, process design kits (PDKs), tools, flows and IP, through multiple silicon test vehicles.

As well as a logic density 1.8 times greater than current generation chips, the 5nm process is expected to deliver significant gains in both speed and power efficiency.

“TSMC’s 5-nanometer technology offers our customers the industry’s most advanced logic process to address the exponentially growing demand for computing power driven by AI and 5G,” said Cliff Hou, VP of R&D and technology development at TSMC. “5-nanometer technology requires deeper design-technology co-optimization. Therefore, we collaborate seamlessly with our ecosystem partners to ensure we deliver silicon-validated IP blocks and EDA tools ready for customer use. As always, we are committed to helping customers achieve first-time silicon success and faster time-to-market.”

TSMC has long been Apple’s sole supplier of A-series chips thanks to its quest for ever-smaller processes leaving Samsung behind. The company isn’t stopping at 5nm, reportedly aiming for 3nm production in 2022.

Samsung still has a monopoly on iPhone X-family displays, but isn’t likely to retain that for long. Competitors like LG Display and Japan Display are pitching for Apple’s business, while TSMC is looking further ahead to microLED technology.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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