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Apple, Arm using 80% of TSMC capacity for most advanced 5nm chips

Apple Inc. and ARM Ltd. have booked 80% of the capacity of 5-nanometer processors from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.

Apple uses TSMC's 5nm process for the A14 Bionic processors and M1 processors that go into the iPhone 12 smartphone, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and other Apple products.

Apple has been TSMC's largest customer for years, but ramped up its orders of TSMC's most advanced chips earlier this year after announcing it would switch from processors designed by Intel Corp. to chips it designed itself that are based on more generic central processors it licensed from Arm.

TSMC will allocate the remaining 20% of its capacity among the second tier of its largest customers that includes QUALCOMM Inc., MediaTek Inc., Broadcom Inc. and others, according to a Dec. 22 Taiwan News report.

Apple has also booked part of the first runs of chips to be made with the even smaller 3nm processors TSMC promised would go into production sometime during the second half of 2021 and go into volume production in 2022, according to a Dec. 22 GizmoChina report.

The Taiwan-based contract chip manufacturer is the largest chip foundry in the world and one of only two able to produce chips using a 5-nanometer manufacturing process. The other, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., dedicates much of the capacity for its most-advanced chipmaking to its own smartphones and other smart devices.