In the last few weeks, we've seen three new System-on-Chips officially unveiled. In no particular order, we've seen the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, the HiSilicon Kirin 950 and the Samsung Exynos 8890. These new generation chipsets follow the MediaTek Helio X20, a ten core chipset with the ARM Cortex-A72 as the highest tier application processor. Each of these chipsets, together with the Apple designed A10, use a different technique in order to blend performance with power efficiency. However, whilst the number of application cores is different between these designs, as is the model of processor used and the blend of big.LITTLE architecture, we are seeing reports that many of these chipsets will share the same manufacturing technique: TSMC's InFO, or in full, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's Integrated FanOut processor architecture. There was some speculation in the industry that TSMC were reserving their new technology for Apple's processors but it now appears that TSMC's InFO is not reserved for Cupertino but is not set to be used by both MediaTek and Qualcomm.
Integrated FanOut is a new generation packaging technology for chipsets developed by TSMC. It's designed to increase system bandwidth in conjunction with being easily scalable: it will reduce power consumption and results in thinner processors as it removes substrate from the design. Thinner chipsets result in greater thermal efficiency, because heat is quicker to dissipate. The shorter the distance between internal processor components can also result in greater performance. The TSMC InFO is set to increase chipset costs by between 5% to 10%, as TSMC have improved their manufacturing abilities to improve the die yield. Ultimately, as TSMC further refine their manufacturing processes this will reduce the cost and ultimately result in smaller, thinner devices, the type that we are expecting to see more of as the Internet-of-Things becomes more prevalent.
However, at this juncture it is unclear what chipsets will benefit from InFO and when, exactly, chips will be coming off the production lines with the technology integrated although the expectation is that they will be available in the second quarter. As TSMC prepare the technology for new chipsets. As we have already alluded, the Apple A10 has been linked with this rumor, as is whatever System-on-Chipset that will power the next generation Apple Watch. The next Apple Watch is likely to be released in the second quarter, which coincides with the second quarter rumor. We will have to wait and see what other manufacturers' chipsets use InFO and what difference it makes to devices in the hands of consumers.