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TSMC Kicks Off A6 Processor Trial Production with Apple

2011/08/12 | By Steve Chuang

Taipei, Aug. 12, 2011 (CENS)--Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC), the world's largest semiconductor foundry by market shares now, has allegedly started trial production of the A6 processor in cooperation with Apple Inc., with the production design to be taped out in the first quarter of next year and scheduled to be publicly unveiled in the second quarter at the earliest, according to industry sources.

Accordingly, TSMC has applied its newest 28-nanometer process and 3D stacking technologies to produce the next-generation processor A6, which is based on the ARM architecture and will undergo TSMC's cutting-edge silicon interposer and bump on trace (BOT) methodologies. Industry insiders said that the manufacturing will help to pump considerable momentum into TSMC's business growth starting next year, though the company has yet to comment on the deal for the moment.

In fact, the sources said, TSMC has been capable of handling processor production for Apple, but didn't build the business ties with the customer in the past due mainly to limited production lines, which were almost fully booked by existing customers, including Nvidia and Qualcomm. But, the industry has been experiencing a depression, making TSMC stand the chance to collaborate with Apple on processor production this year.

Affected by sluggish demand of downstream customers, TSMC has projected its combined revenue for the third quarter of this year to drop 6-8% to between NT$102 billion and NT$104 billion from the second quarter, with the gross profit rate of 40.5-42.5%, despite a booming season for the industry. Nevertheless, the company stressed that its business operations will turn around in the fourth quarter when customer inventories are reduced.

Noteworthily, Taiwan's leading semiconductor testing and packaging company, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc, is expected to also benefit from the A6 processor production, noted the sources, saying that the company, which has partnered TSMC to develop the 3D chip-packaging technology, is very likely to snap up the order for processor packaging in the future.