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TSMC “Apple-first” 3nm policy leads to AMD and Qualcomm mutiny

  • 284 points
  • 11 hours ago

  • @DeathArrow
  • Created a post
  • • 305 comments

TSMC “Apple-first” 3nm policy leads to AMD and Qualcomm mutiny


@shmerl 4 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Shouldn't there be some anti-trust limitation on that?

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@Zigurd 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

This is Tim Cook's strategic masterpiece. Everybody knows how he made the iPod dominant with a supply chain strategy. That same pattern was repeaded in other places in Apple's products with less media attention.

This is next level: Without building his own fabs, Cook has dominated microprocessors with a combination of an industry leading design and dominating state of the art manufacturing. This is even better than what Intel had in their dominant period because this strategic pattern can be shifted into different areas of products and their supply chain. The car industry better watch out.

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@Decabytes 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Using another foundry is good because we need to break TSMCs monopoly. But AMD using a different foundry brings back Glo-flo nightmares

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@webmobdev 10 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Now that most of Apple's top talents from its CPU division have left for greener pastures (1), I guess this is their new strategy - somehow delay their competitors from launching new and better chips while Apple scrambles to find new talents in the limited pool available. Apple has bet their future on Apple Silicon, and it badly needs to retain a lead on other competing CPU for a year or two, to capture sufficient market share (the perception of Apple Silicon leading over other CPUs is very important for this).

TSMC also seems to be taking a big gamble, pissing of existing good clients.

Edit: (1) https://semianalysis.com/apple-cpu-gains-grind-to-a-halt-and...

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@ZuLuuuuuu 7 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Can't talk much about AMD but Apple-first policy isn't the problem with Qualcomm CPUs. Anybody who follows Qualcomm news knows that they were 99% focused on 5G for the last few years. TSMC 7nm node is available to them for a long time, and yet, they couldn't even come up with an answer to Apple's 2 year old A13 which was also TSMC 7nm.

I know I know, they bought NUVIA (which is widely believed to become the savior of Qualcomm CPUs), but we won't see any results of that acquisition until 2023.

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@ruslan 1 hour

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

How about the good old principle "don't build around one customer" ? In long term Apple will twist their hands out. I don't think TSMC management is so dumb not to understand that, yet their shareholders may be.

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@jagger27 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

This really doesn't seem true. Maybe Qualcomm, but not AMD.

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@MrBuddyCasino 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Ironic, given that Nvidia is moving away from Samsung for the next gen GPUs. Rumour has it they are dissatisfied by production capacity and yields.

Can't imagine their N3 process will be much better, but its good they found customers to finance their latest node with I guess.

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@xyzzy_plugh 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

This is really nothing new. Apple has been playing this game for years, ask anyone who shared an adjacent floor with Apple in Foxconn in the last decade.

Whether it's unibody aluminum milled frames, bleeding edge injection molding, glass, silicon...

It's done nothing but good for Apple to be aggressive and as vertical without owning the manufacturer as possible. Some of their processes are _years_ ahead of what anyone else can get their hands on, because they buy all the equipment, lease all the floors, and just throw money around like it's nobody's business. AMD and certainly Qualcomm can't touch em.

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@blackoil 7 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

If it continues for few years as expected, it would be interesting see how anti-monopoly agencies/govt. will handle it. Unlike other times/resources, processors are a matter of concern at all levels. Supply chain issues with unprecedented demand means TSMC can't increase capacity even if money is not an issue. If Samsung can't compete, we'll have a complete monopoly.

Apple gaining marketshare because of this should be a matter of concern for many nations.

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@zucker42 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Is Samsung 3nm competitive with TSMC 3nm? The information I'm finding online says Samsung 3nm pretty close to TSMC 5nm in density (for example [1]).

[1] https://www.breakinglatest.news/business/samsung-3nm-technic...

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@ksec 8 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

And this is the start ( if it hasn't already started ) of PR campaign against TSMC. Its going to be a long journey, probably take 4 - 5 years.

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@libertine 8 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Couldn't this pose a case to force TSMC to open their IP?

It's a genuine question - because they're in such a crucial industry, and they're taking sizes based on order volume, damaging other businesses?

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@hristov 6 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

There is a bigger problem than Apple first that the article does not mention. It is Mediatek second (i.e., after apple). Mediatek used to be a strictly second tier mobile processor maker, with Qualcomm and Apple's internal team occupying the first tier. Now Mediatek has overtaken qualcomm in market share. The main reason is that TSMC is making more chips for Mediatek than Qualcomm.

One can explain TSMCs preferential treatment for Apple based on purely commercial terms. Apple is after all the biggest foundry services consumer and they usually demand the advanced nodes which tend to be more expensive.

But there is no such explanation for TSMCs preference for Mediatek over Qualcomm. Qualcomm is generally as large as Mediatek, in fact they used to be significantly larger before TSMC hobbled them.

Well the first explanation that leaps to mind is patriotism (mediatek is a taiwanese company like TSMC, Qualcomm is American). But if that plays a significant factor then perhaps the chipmakers of the world should not so eagerly trust TSMC to make their chips.

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@Animats 5 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

It's starting to look like there will be a glut in fab capacity 2-3 years out. New fabs are being built in all the major industrial countries. 29 fabs, with a total cost of $140 billion, are under construction.[1] Even auto parts maker Bosch, fed up with automotive supply chain problems, is building a fab. Capitalism is starting to work again.

[1] https://community.cadence.com/cadence_blogs_8/b/breakfast-by...

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@fomine3 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

I really wish Qualcomm to use latest TSMC's latest process to make Android phones competitive for performance. Even when they used same process as Apple A series, their perf/watt (now it's almost same as perf) were a bit behind.

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@jonplackett 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

It’s interesting that Apple’s decision to transition to their own chips was probably lead, at least partly, by the fact they knew the could lock down all this next gen production.

If everyone else had access to cutting edge TSMC I’m sure Apple’s chips would still be good but I don’t think we’d be quite as impressed.

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@dsign 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Fierce competition in this space is a good thing, we sorely need faster matrix multiplication for everything from graphics processing to the grammar checker in [insert name of your word-processing software]. So yes, more transistors please.

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@oDot 8 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Does anyone know if Samsung's 3nm and TSMC's 3nm are the same? I recall different fabs measure differently.

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@gigatexal 8 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Good. More supply for Apple at TSMC and more customers for Samsung to drive down per unit costs and make bigger investments to compete in the chip space. This move really only helps the semiconductor manufacturing market and makes it more likely that Apple will be able to make all the hardware their fans like me buy up so ravenously.

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@peteyPete 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

There was a good report on CNBC the state of chip manufacturing, TSMC, etc.. There is investment in building two large fabs in the US to help solve some of the current issues and to help avoid being cut off in case of geopolitical instability in the region. Worth the watch.

Secretive Giant TSMC’s $100 Billion Plan To Fix The Chip Shortage https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU87SH5e0eI

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@Jyaif 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

What are the bottle necks preventing TSMC from meeting the demand?

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@stemc43 6 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

this is so depressing (for those not mac fanboys). while amd is pushed out me as a consumer is gonna end up suffering.

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@GeekyBear 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Apple has a long history of buying their suppliers a production line in return for guaranteed production levels, going back to the start of the Tim Cook era.

An early example.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2005/11/21Apple-Announces-Lon...

A more recent example.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-apple-corning/apple-award...

If you go back to the time when Apple was looking at single sourcing all their SOC production at TSMC, you'll see TSMC's CEO publicly saying it would make sense to dedicate a Fab to a single customer.

>The world's leading foundry chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is considering operating single-customer wafer fabs, according to chairman and CEO Morris Chang.

"I think that they are going to be larger customers, and now it makes complete sense to dedicate a whole fab to just one customer and hold that – to hold fabs in fact to just one customer."

https://web.archive.org/web/20120728040723/https://www.eetim...

I think the reason that Apple is always first in line at TSMC is that they bought TSMC a Fab.

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@23iuhj23oi 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

Samsung S21 beats iPhone 13 in performance (!!!) despite using a less advanced semiconductor technology (not TSMC) and being an older smartphone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MxC6eVjPFQ

So, Apple CPUs are not that great at the end.

By the way, the guy on the video forgot to turn off power saving mode on S21 (-> less performance) and S21 still beat iPhone...

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@YetAnotherNick 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

AMD hasn't even moved to 5nm till now even though it is available to them. Why are they complaining?

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@1cvmask 9 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

This seems to me a replay of when Apple bought out all the capacity of Toshiba hard drives to that effectively blocked other MP3 players from emerging:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod

https://9to5mac.com/2021/10/23/20-years-ago-today-ipod-chang...

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@georgeburdell 3 hours

Replying to @DeathArrow 🎙

As an outsider, dealing with Apple as a vendor strikes me as dealing with the mafia: once they've set their sights on you, they'll make you an offer you can't refuse.

Should you accept, they'll give you a shot of capital in the arm and you'll grow faster than you ever could have to meet their schedules. Soon, your engineers are tied up in daily afternoon stand-ups to go over the latest data with Apple's engineers, and they're dictating your R&D schedule. Your company is effectively dependent upon Apple because investors expect revenue growth. Inevitably, however, they'll discard you when a cheaper competitor comes along, or they decide to take the work in-house.

Should you refuse, they'll poach away your employees, or enable your competitors to do the same.

I haven't thought of a scenario where a vendor can actually rebuff Apple and stay intact.

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