Apple faces Yield challenges for its A17 Bionic and M3 chips

by Jack Prosser
Apple A17 Bionic and M3 chips

Apple’s upcoming A17 Bionic and M3 chipsets, have reportedly secured 90 percent of TSMC’s 3nm chip production. However, the yield rate of these chips remains a concern, currently standing at 55 percent. To overcome this challenge, Apple may be paying for the known good dies instead of the standard wafer prices charged by TSMC.

TSMC’s 3nm process currently yields only 55 percent of good wafers, with the remaining being categorized as a bad batch. This poses a challenge for Apple, as nearly half of the wafers produced are unsuitable for its products.

Pricing Agreement:

To address the yield rate issue, Apple and TSMC have reportedly reached an agreement where Apple pays for the good wafer batches instead of the standard pricing. Given Apple’s significance as a client, TSMC is likely accommodating this arrangement to secure its future business, not only for the 3nm process but also for upcoming cutting-edge nodes.

With a yield rate of 55 percent, TSMC’s monthly wafer output for 3nm chips will be around 55,000 units that meet Apple’s quality standards. However, this falls short of the expected high demand for the iPhone 15 series.

For Apple to pay standard wafer pricing, the 3nm yield rate needs to reach 70 percent. However, will not likely happen before the first half of 2024. Until then, Apple could potentially pay up to $17,000 per wafer, assuming yields improve.

Potential Process Switch:

There are rumors that Apple might consider switching to TSMC’s N3E process in 2024. N3E process may offer better yields and lower production costs. However, such a transition could come with performance trade-offs for the A17 Bionic and M3 chipsets, making Apple’s decision uncertain at this stage.

iPhone 15 Production and Chipset Performance:

Mass production of the iPhone 15 is will begin in August. The success of the A17 Bionic and M3 chipsets can be evaluated based on the global availability of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. These devices will provide insights into the flagship chipset’s yield rate and overall performance.

News Source: EE Times, WCCFTech

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