Thursday October 18, 2018

Macs Could Jump to ARM in 2020

TSMC is already making all of Apple's 7nm iPhone chips, and a new report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggests that TSMC will remain their sole supplier in 2019 and 2020. That isn't a huge surprise, as TSMC, Samsung, and Intel are the only bleeding edge foundries left. Intel is suffering from production issues and typically doesn't open their foundries to other customers, and Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor. However, the analyst also suggests that ARM-based processors could power Macs in 2020 or 2021. ARM Mac rumors are nothing new, but TSMC's newfound fabrication edge could bring that possibility closer to reality.

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We also expect that Mac models will adopt Apple's in-house-designed processor starting 2020 or 2021, which will create four advantages for Apple: (1) Apple could control everything about the Mac's design and production and be rid of negative impacts from Intel's processor shipment schedule changes. (2) Better profits thanks to lower processor cost. (3) Mac market share gain if Apple lowers the price. (4) It could differentiate Mac from peers' products. Kuo also suggests Apple will recruit TSMC to manufacture chips for its upcoming Apple Car starting in 2023 to 2025. We believe that Apple Car's Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will support either Level 4 (high automation) or Level 5 (full automation). Only TSMC's 3/5 nm process can meet Level 4 and Level 5 chip requirements.