Huawei, Apple to use TSMC's new 7 nm EUV process for their upcoming flagship chips

The upcoming Kirin 985 and the A13 chips are both expected to hit mass production in Q2 2019.


In 2018, Huawei’s Hisilicon managed to beat everyone else to the race when it came to mass-producing the world’s first 7 nm SoC, the Kirin 980.

It appears likely that the company will continue to do so this year as well, with its newest Kirin chip slated to go into mass production in Q2 2019. This time, TSMC will be using an updated version of the 7 nm manufacturing process that is referred to as '7 nm EUV'.

As per a report by DigiTimes citing sources from two Chinese news outlets, TSMC is readying its 7 nm EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography) process technology, dubbed as the N7+, for the mass production of Hisilicon’s new generation Kirin 985.

Huawei, Apple to use TSMCs new 7 nm EUV process for their upcoming flagship chips

Representative Image.

Compared to the Kirin 980 based on TSMC’s 7 nm FinFET process, EUV-based manufacturing is said to allow for 20-percent higher transistor density, which should essentially see in a 10-percent bump in power efficiency. Likewise, 7 nm chipsets manufactured using EUV is also said to be cheaper and faster to produce.

Despite getting TSMC to mass-produce the Kirin 980 chips faster than anyone, Huawei still lost out to Apple, whose A12 Bionic chips were the first 7 nm chips to feature on a smartphone.

Apple, who custom-designed chipsets are also manufactured by TSMC, is expected to use an enhanced version of the N7+ manufacturing process called N7 Pro, which will be used for Apple’s A13 chip, designed for the 2019 iPhone lineup.

The report states that Apple's chips will enter mass production in the second quarter of the year, albeit later than HiSilicon’s, and this should give Huawei a chance to launch a Kirin 985-based flagship ahead of the iPhones.

Time will tell whether or not this will be the case but either way, Apple’s N7 Pro-based silicon is likely to outperform the Kirin 985.