Apple chipmaker TSMC and chip designer ARM have announced that they will work together to create a 7nm FinFET process expected to enter early production in late 2017 and mass production in 2018. This would put it on track for an A11 chip in the iPhone 8.

Apple originally used ARM chips in its iOS devices, switching to its own custom chip when it launched the iPhone 5, though still using an ARM instruction set. TSMC has so far been one of two A-processor chipmakers alongside Samsung, but is rumored to be the sole producer for the A10 chip in the iPhone 7.

It’s believed TSMC got the sole chipmaker deal thanks to its 10nm process, and clearly wants to maintain its technical lead over Samsung by working on even denser chips next time around.

IBM has already produced its own 7nm chip (above photo), but only by using some pretty specialist lab techniques that would not scale up to volume production.

The full announcement can be read below.

ARM and TSMC Announce Multi-Year Agreement to Collaborate on 7nm FinFET Process Technology for High-Performance Compute

ARM and TSMC announced a multi-year agreement to collaborate on a 7nm FinFET process technology which includes a design solution for future low-power, high-performance compute SoCs. The new agreement expands the companies’ long-standing partnership and advances leading-edge process technologies beyond mobile and into next-generation networks and data centers. Additionally, the agreement extends previous collaborations on 16nm and 10nm FinFET that have featured ARM® Artisan® foundation Physical IP.

“Existing ARM-based platforms have been shown to deliver an increase of up to 10x in compute density for specific data center workloads,” said Pete Hutton, executive vice president and president of product groups, ARM. “Future ARM technology designed specifically for data centers and network infrastructure and optimized for TSMC 7nm FinFET will enable our mutual customers to scale the industry’s lowest-power architecture across all performance points.”

“TSMC continuously invests in advanced process technology to support our customer’s success,” said Dr. Cliff Hou, vice president, R&D, TSMC. “With our 7nm FinFET, we have expanded our Process and Ecosystem solutions from mobile to high performance compute. Customers designing their next generation high-performance computing SoCs will benefit from TSMC’s industry-leading 7nm FinFET, which will deliver more performance improvement at the same power or lower power at the same performance as compared to our 10nm FinFET process node. Jointly optimized ARM and TSMC solutions will enable our customers to deliver disruptive, first-to-market products.”

This latest agreement builds on ARM and TSMC’s success with previous generations of 16nm FinFET and 10nm FinFET process technology. The joint innovations from previous TSMC and ARM collaborations have enabled customers to accelerate their product development cycles and take advantage of leading-edge processes and IP. Recent benefits include early access to Artisan Physical IP and tape-outs of ARM Cortex®-A72 processor on 16nm FinFET and 10nm FinFET.

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