TSMC rumored to win sole production of A10 thanks to advanced device packaging techniques

TSMC lobby

As 2015 wraps up, rumors surrounding Apple’s next iteration of its iPhone family are ramping up. Now a new report aims to shed light on Apple’s decisions regarding the next processor under the hood.

The A9 chip is housed within the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, thanks to TSMC and Samsung. Apple’s utilization of multiple manufacturers for certain parts within its devices isn’t new, but if a new report is to be believed, then Apple could be going back to a sole manufacturer for its next chip, believed to be called the A10.

According to Taiwan’s Commercial Times, by way of EE Times, and corroborated by a recent research report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is expected to utilize TSMC as its sole manufacturer of the A10 processor. Apple went with a sole producer of its A8 chipset, so this move isn’t entirely unprecedented. As for the decision to go with TSMC, the report indicates that it could be based on advanced device packaging techniques that are brought to the table by TSMC, and are not offered by Samsung.

Specifically, the report puts a spotlight on TSMC’s integrated fan-out wafer-level packaging, or InFO WLP as being one of the key elements of the contract that sees TSMC as the sole supplier of the A10 processor. (InFO WLP is a 3D IC technology that strive for higher level of component integration in a single package, all with far improved electrical characteristics.)

The main takeaway for Apple here is that it offers a cheaper entry point for its technologies, while not sacrificing power or efficiency. On top of that, for the consumer, the inclusion of InFO WLP means better efficiency and performance, which are both good things. With the inclusion of InFO WLP, many different aspects of the next iPhone could improve, including the performance of its radio frequency (RF) components for cellular modems, as well as better thermal performance across the board.

InFO WLP manufacturing

The distinct advantages to using InFO WLP are seen right from the method of implementation, as outlined here:

“InFO WLP allows multiple flip chip components to be placed side-by-side on a package substrate resembling a traditional assembly, but with the ability to interconnect to one another through the package substrate. This is in contrast to traditional methods which feature stacked packages (package on package, or PoP) interconnected with tiny wires.”

It is always interesting to see which companies are pegged for manufacturing duties with the individual parts found within Apple’s products. Just recently the differences between Samsung’s and TSMC’s A9 processor were made obvious to the masses as differences in battery life were visible to those running their own tests on the hardware. Though, in the end, Apple’s decision to go with TSMC as its sole manufacturer for the upcoming A10 seems to not just be a win for the companies, TSMC and Apple, but also for the consumer, too.

[via MacRumors; EE Times; Commercial Times]