Arguably the most distinguishing feature of the iPhone 5s was its Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which made it all the more unique not just from all other iPhones, iPod touches and iPads, but rather, any other smartphone on the market as well. However, one issue that this caused potentially for the newest iPhone’s availability was low production rates, resulting in long wait times for even early adopters. Now, according to a recent report from DigiTimes, the TSMC, Apple’s supplier for fingerprint sensors, is not only gearing up to initiate production in Q2 this year, but also on a larger scale, in hopes to meet the production needs and demands for the upcoming iPhone 6 that is probably going to get released at the end of this year.
According to the report, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is not only going to begin production in Q2, but they’re also moving the manufacturing process from an 8-inch fab to a much larger 12-inch fab, which will help increase production efficiency for meeting larger volume demands. In a related move, TSMC will also be handling the packaging of Touch ID sensors itself instead of outsourcing the process, ensuring that it has more (read: better) control over the entire process.
From the report itself, “However, in order to ensure the yield rates of the new fingerprint sensors, TSMC is also expected to handle the backend wafer level-chip scale packaging (WL-CSP) process in house, instead of subcontracting the packaging process to IC backend service firms as done previously, the sources revealed.”
The report also suggests that the process will be carried out using a 65nm process, which is going to further help improve production capacity and eliminate waste.
For the last generation iPhone 5s, TSMC contracted Xintec, China Wafer Level CSP and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering for the shipping and packaging activities of the sensors that the company manufactured using 8-inch fabs. This time, for the next iPhone, they’re doing to deal with all of it themselves, and instead outsource the packaging of Qualcomm’s chips externally.
While from a consumer perspective, this may not be a very big piece of news, it does indicate that not only Apple, but even its suppliers, are all in for putting the customer needs first. Beyond doubt, iPhone is one of the most popular pieces of hardware on the market today, and it makes sense to put that first and ensure that production volumes can be met. Then again, how would the industry react to it? We’ll find out.