Apple COO Reportedly attends secret meetings with TSMC to reserve first batch of 2-nanometer production

The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. logo atop a building at the Hsinchu Science Park in Hsinchu, Taiwan.
(Image credit: Mike Kai Chen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Apple COO Jeff Williams reportedly paid a recent secret visit to TSMC CEO C.C. Wei to discuss reserving the first batch of the semiconductor manufacturer’s 2-nanometer production capacity. The new technology could prove vital not only for Apple to continue improving the performance of its M-series chips, but also to catch up with the competition in artificial intelligence (AI).

Sources from the Taiwanese news outlet Economic Daily reported the meetings under the condition of anonymity. This is standard practice with Apple, since the iPhone-maker almost never discloses its negotiations with suppliers.

The Cupertino-based tech company has recently begun making inroads in the AI server world, developing its own AI chips for its data center servers. These servers would be required to handle artificial intelligence processing too complex to be handled on-device on an iPhone or iPad. Rumors suggest that iOS 18, expected to debut this fall, will lean heavily into AI models, akin to what Android has adopted by way of Gemini Nano.

Previously, Apple CFO Luca Maestri confirmed that the tech giant maintains its own data centers that could be used for AI purposes. While the company also enlists third-party data centers, Maestri clarified Apple’s plan to continue building its own data centers. The financial executive also confirmed that Apple has invested over $100 billion in generative AI research and development over the past five years.

Apple already employs TSMC’s 3-nanometer process for its M4 System-on-a-Chip (SoC), which integrates a more powerful Neural Processing Unit than previous generations. To further develop AI capabilities, Apple will reportedly develop three additional levels of the M4 SoC. These chips, codenamed Donan, Brava, and Hydra will offer more AI processing power to help Cupertino catch up in the field.

The new versions of the M4 chip are expected to enter mass production during the second half of 2024. Apple’s purchase of the first production capability of the 2-nanometer process means the potential for TSMC’s annual revenue to climb to an all-time high, NT$600 billion (approximately USD $18.6 billion). Over time, Apple’s business with TSMC could help the chipmaker reach an annual revenue of NT$1 trillion (USD $31 billion).

Neither Apple nor TSMC responded to inquiries about the nature of Williams’ visit to Taiwan.

Freelance News Writer
  • Eximo
  • thisisaname
    If AI is a gold rush, TSMC is making a fortune selling shovels.
  • Eximo
    thisisaname said:
    If AI is a gold rush, TSMC is making a fortune selling shovels.

    More like shovel parts? Final assembly is very much elsewhere.
  • CmdrShepard
    To catch up in the AI arena, Apple needs as much of the newest technology it can acquire.

    No, they don't.

    The only place where Apple might be lagging in consumer products is in generative AI performance which is not surprising given that they are all responsible adults who consider the ecological impact of feataures they implement in their extremely popular, widely purchased, products.

    Also, leave it to Apple to do the AI right.

    They don't "catch up" -- they closely watch what others are doing and then they do it much better than everyone else. They not only improve things but also find compelling use cases, that's why their stuff sells like hot cakes.
  • ToBeGood
    No one knows what is discussed.

    Half glass full vs Half glass empty.

    The same report can also line it this way and it make perfect sense.

    Apple COO goes to visit CC Wei @ TSMC to discuss whether they are still going to manufacture all their product with TSMC. (Half Glass Empty)

    You needed to understand less than a month ago (24 Apr 2024 vs 21 May 2024), CC Wei @ TSMC visit California where Apple is located. It is rare that CC Wei @ TSMC did not schedule a meeting with Tim Cook, its largest customer by revenue by far.

    It is understood that the relationship of TSMC and Apple as a whole is good, therefore it is a surprise that if Apple still going to have all product manufacture @ TSMC then there are little needs to reconfirm things working well. The engineer down there will do all communication.

    More likely so is Apple do want to change something, no matter it is pricing / level of partnership / unhappy things of current situation (e.g. product availability, future roadmap, capacity, etc.), and this something can not be resolve over the phone.

    I can write a report tomorrow headlined Rumors: Apple want to reduced it reliance to TSMC and seek for a second foundry.
  • ezst036
    Admin said:
    ......... but also to catch up with the competition in artificial intelligence (AI).

    Apple? Lagging? That's not what Apple cultists tell me.

    The word on the street is that Apple blows everybody out of the water with their front-line leading performance and features and this next chip is just going to blow them out of the water again.