Chinese Economic News Service (via MacRumors) is citing Citigroup Global Markets analyst J.T. Hsu today as claiming Apple will make the switch to TSMC’s 20nm process for quad-core processors over the next couple of years. The rumor is something we have heard several times in the past:
Citigroup Global Markets Inc. estimated Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to be the only supplier of 20nm process to Apple quad-core processors over the next one to two years, citing the company’s unmatched technological advance on 20nm process and Apple’s decision to adopt 20nm quad-core processors in its new products…Apple began verifying TSMC’s 20nm process in August this year and may begin risk production in November with the process. Volume production is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, raising the possibility that TSMC will hike capital expenditure to US$11-12 billion in 2013 and 2014.
According to Hsu, Apple will utilize the processors in iPad, “iTV” (Apple TV?), and MacBooks, while iPhone’s will remain with duo-core chips:
Hsu estimated Apple to design quad-core processors into iPad, iTV and even Macbook. iPhones will be still powered by duo-core processors to highlight its low power consumption merit… Apple’s contracts have been widely criticized for low margin to contract suppliers, likely the reason why TSMC has been reluctant to compete for Apple contracts. But Hsu thinks otherwise, estimating Apple’s quad-core chip, cost at around US$15, could be 10% cheaper once it is made by Taiwan’s supply chains involving TSMC, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE), and Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp.,
In August, Bloomberg reported both Apple and Qualcomm failed to obtain exclusive chip production rights from TSMC after putting up over $1 billion in bids. Samsung also recently made big investments in its new Austin, Texas plant manufacturing chips for iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products, indicating multi-year contracts are likely in place.