The world’s largest chip maker TSMC has decided to prioritize the production of Apple processors and chips for cars. All other customers are relegated to the background, and these are Intel, AMD and Qualcomm.
Apple is ahead of everyone
TSMC, a Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer, has decided to prioritize the production of Apple chips amid a shortage of chips. The needs of all other companies, including Intel, fade into the background, with the only exception being automakers.
According to DigiTimes, car companies can also count on TSMC’s loyalty, but they are still behind Apple. TSMC, as the world’s largest chip maker, will focus primarily on the Apple M and Apple A chips, including the A15, which will be part of the upcoming iPhone 13.
This fact means that new Apple smartphones, the production of which is currently gaining momentum, may be announced on time, that is, in September 2021, and not like in 2020, when due to the pandemic, their premiere was postponed a month in advance. … How things will be with other companies remains unknown.
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According to statistics from Statista.com, in the first quarter of 2021, TSMC accounted for 56% of global revenue from the production of microcircuits. Dozens of other companies shared the remaining 44%. In addition, TSMC’s share is growing from year to year: in the first quarter of 2019 it was 48.1%, and in the first quarter of 2020 it reached 54.1%.
Whom Apple moved
TSMC has an impressive number of clients, many of whom are known all over the world. Its agreement with Apple and the auto giants will lead to the fact that AMD, for example, may face a shortage of microcircuits.
AMD, Intel’s main competitor in the server, desktop and mobile x86 processor markets, does not have its own semiconductor factories. All of its processors are manufactured by TSMC. Intel also cooperates with this company, but in smaller volumes, since, unlike AMD, it has a network of its own factories.
TSMC’s largest customers include Qualcomm and MediaTek (makers of processors for mobile devices), as well as Broadcom, whose wireless modules are often found in computers, laptops and smartphones.
Huawei, too, could be hurt by TSMC’s plans to focus on making chips for Apple. Despite US sanctions, she is still her client.
Who will win
South Korean Samsung is not on the list of companies ordering chips from TSMC, although it also produces a whole range of devices. This is explained by the presence of its own semiconductor factories, moreover, one of the most modern in the world.
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Samsung and TSMC almost simultaneously mastered the 5-nanometer process technology, so far the most modern in the world. TSMC is currently working on 3- and even 2-nanometer standards, but it is still a long way to launch mass production using them.
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According to Statista.com, Samsung is in second place after TSMC in terms of chip revenue. If in the first quarter of 2021 TSMC retained 56% of total revenue, then for Samsung this figure is 18%. A year earlier, its share was at the level of 15.9%.
It is possible that some of TSMC’s customers will redistribute their orders and transfer their part to its competitors. Among them are, for example, the Chinese SMIC and the American Globalfoundries.
Other agreements Apple and TSMC
In December 2020, Apple leased 80% of TSMC’s 5-nanometer production capacity for 2021, leaving only 20% to all its other customers. According to the cnBeta portal, initially she wanted to take 100%, but for some unknown reason she abandoned this idea.
Note that Apple was among the first to switch to 5nm chips. It started with the A14 on the iPhone 12 launched in October 2020, and then added the M1 processor to its portfolio. It is a chip of its own design for laptops and desktops, which allowed her to abandon the use of Intel processors.
Apple also has plans for a 3-nanometer process technology, which TSMC plans to switch to in 2022. How much of the production it managed to book remains unknown.
In March 2021, it turned out that the 2 nm topology is also of interest to the company from Cupertino. CNews wrote that Apple is helping TSMC develop a 2-nanometer process technology in order to be among the first to release processors according to these standards. Test production is tentatively scheduled for 2023 and will begin on the 3nm assembly line, which may be fully operational by then.