TSMC dumps Huawei and hints at a 5nm node in the next 5G iPhone

TSMC semiconductor foundry.
(Image credit: TSMC)

In a conference call with technology blog PhoneArena, TSMC - the world’s most valuable semiconductor company - has hinted that the 5G iPhone expected from Apple within the next six months will not only include next generation networking, but will also be powered by a 5nm chipset.

According to TSMC, the new 5nm node will reportedly deliver a 1.8x greater density over 7nm, and 15% higher clock speeds at the same power; OR reduce power consumption by 30% (meaning processor designers will have to consider which elements are most important for their devices). 

And during a a quarterly earnings call with the PhoneArena team, TSMC suggested that Apple would be using 5nm nodes over the anticipated 7nm node chips, which will enable Apple’s engineers to have more flexibility, which will be essential in a 5G handset, considering the extra power consumption this will place on a handset.

“While talking about how the next mobile processor production node investments will dilute their earnings by a few percentage points in the next quarter, TSMC tangentially confirmed that 5nm chipsets are in our very near phone future. Now, where would those new processors go?,” wrote Daniel Petrov, or PhoneArena. “Why, the iPhone 12 series, of course, as TSMC tipped that 5nm will already be contributing to its revenue in the fall, albeit with just 8%. The bulk of these chips will go to Apple, of course, as the next A14 chipset is expected to be the first one done with the 5nm node.”

Ditching Huawei

Elsewhere, TSMC has been eager to distance itself from Huawei, as hardened US trade sanctions come into force later this year, and as the UK has announced that it too will be unable to use Huawei products going forward.

"We are complying fully with the new regulations. We did not take any new orders from Huawei since May 15," TSMC Chairman Mark Liu told an investors conference. "Although the regulation just finished its public comment period, the Bureau of Industry and Security did not make a final ruling change. Under this circumstance, we do not plan to ship wafers to Huawei after September the 14th."

And despite the Huawei hit, which will have had a significant impact on the company’s finances, TSMC is still forecasting its revenue for July-September at between $11.2 billion and $11.5 billion, which would be a 20% y-o-y increase, and would exceed market expectations.


Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.