Underscoring the size of Apple and TSMC’s partnership are new figures suggesting the Cupertino-based giant spent $14.3 billion on silicon wafers in 2021, accounting for 26 per cent of total foundry revenue.
These numbers should come as no surprise as TSMC’s largest customer has a near-monopoly for manufacturing expensive, leading-edge 5nm silicon, while older process nodes continue to attract volume orders for Apple’s lower-priced hardware.
Year-on-year revenue climbed by 20 per cent for the Apple account, too, which makes sense when set against the backdrop of far more products using in-house-designed hardware based on the Arm architecture, as opposed to reliance on Intel x86 chips produced at Team Blue’s own fabrication plants.
In fact, the latest MacBooks, Mac Studio, Studio Display, tablets and, of course, iPhones all use Apple-developed technology contract manufactured by TSMC, and 2022 will see Apple further wean itself off using the Intel Core and Xeon.
Appreciating Apple’s ever-tightening integration with TSMC, it is inevitable more wafer capacity will be reserved for customer number one, putting further stress on supply for companies such as MediaTek, AMD and Nvidia, who also rely on TSMC for high-profile products.