A report from The Information stated that the close cooperation and symbiotic relationship between Apple and TSMC is not only beneficial to each other, but also makes the two sides inextricably difficult to resolve.It is reported that as Apple’s long-term chip partner, TSMC is responsible for the Cupertino technology giant’s self-designed chip foundry business for the iPhone and Apple Silicon Mac. For Apple, close cooperation has allowed the company to obtain many improvements and benefits, including energy efficiency.
The InformationPointed out that the ten-year partnership has given the two companies an inertial dependence. Even the corporate cultures of the two parties have also converged to a certain extent.
According to analysts and former employees, as of now, Apple is still TSMC’s largest customer, accounting for a quarter of the chip foundry’s total revenue of $48.08 billion in 2020.
During the global semiconductor crisis, this partnership can help Apple overcome difficulties (at least in the priority of new processes).
Apple CEO Tim Cook disclosed in the autumn telephone earnings conference that the shortage of chips caused the current quarter’s revenue to decrease by about 6 billion US dollars due to product shortages, and the sales situation during the holiday season would also get worse (mainly due to the old chips. Poor supply).
The report added that TSMC’s newer chips for Apple have not been severely affected. Needham & Co analyst Charles Shi claimed that as TSMC’s production capacity climbs, Apple will be fully guaranteed for the rest of 2021.
The front-end Semiconductor Engineers also said that Apple has also received many preferential treatments in chip development and design. For example, the company has sent at least a hundred engineers to Apple to help it improve the physical design of custom chips.
At the same time, Apple can also promote TSMC’s technology research and development improvements in certain areas by putting forward relevant requirements (such as power consumption and energy efficiency performance).
Bain and Co partner Velu Sinha said: “Usually, chip designers are limited by the existing manufacturing process. But by working closely with TSMC earlier, both parties can optimize the chip design in a targeted manner. Manufacturing process”.
This partnership also extends to TSMC’s efforts to improve its processes and fine-tune the reliability of manufacturing within a year. And the priority of Apple’s design issues is also significantly higher than other customers.
Even when testing with Apple assembly partners (such as Foxconn), TSMC engineers can be sent to factories for further help, which is a very rare arrangement for TSMC.
It is said that the two companies have also issued a high degree of confidentiality requirements, TSMC employees are not allowed to carry smartcell phonework.
Leakers will be fired, emails are encrypted and strictly monitored, and confidentiality provisions restrict TSMC engineers and related employees to work in the park.
Of course, TSMC’s high enthusiasm is not just to prevent Apple from switching to other chip manufacturers. even thoughSamsungElectronics is expected to fight TSMC, but due to direct competition in the smart phone field and earlier legal disputes, Apple is also trying its best to avoid becoming a customer of the former.
Interestingly, chip giants that are more open to foundry servicesIntel, Once expressed the hope that Apple can choose the company. However, due to concerns that Intel will give priority to protecting its own interests during the supply shortage, Apple will not act rashly.
Finally, the cooperation between Apple and TSMC is by no means solid. For example, a source said that TSMC is helpingiPhoneOther products have encountered difficulties in the improvement of the 3nm process that uses more energy-efficient chip design.
If it is difficult to overcome this obstacle, Apple may be stuck in the 5nm-level process for three consecutive years, which will drag down the improvement of power consumption and performance efficiency (and even affect the release of future iPhones)-this is also the first for the company to stick to the lead. Back.