2022 iPhones could be powered by 3nm chipset produced by TSMC

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2022 iPhones could be powered by 3nm chipset produced by TSMC
2022 iPhones could offer a major performance and efficiency boostUnsplash
  • The Taiwan-based semiconductor giant TSMC is reportedly advancing its 3nm fabrication process, in time for 2022 iPhones and Macs.
  • Apple has reportedly gobbled up TSMC’s 3nm production capacity as it looks to gain the first-mover advantage over its competitors.
  • Apple currently uses the 5nm process for its A14 Bionic and M1 chipsets that power iPhones, Macs and iPads.
Apple could use 3nm chipsets to power its 2022 range of iPhones and Macs, built on Taiwan-based TSMC’s 3nm fabrication process. This could make Apple’s custom-designed Bionic chipsets even more efficient, thanks to the smaller fabrication node.

Apple’s A14 Bionic chipset is built on a 5nm fabrication process. It powers the iPhone 12 series and the iPad Air (4th generation). The Apple M1 chip which powers the new iPad Pros, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, is also built on a 5nm process.

Nanometer refers to the width between two transistors on a chipset. Smaller the width, higher the performance and efficiency. In this instance, a 3nm chipset will be more powerful and efficient when compared to a 5nm chipset.

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Citing industry sources, Taiwan-based newspaper DigiTimes reports that Apple and TSMC have moved up the manufacturing process to the second half of 2022, meaning that the next Apple chipset will be ready in time for next year’s iPhones and Macs.

With that said, there’s not enough clarity on whether next year’s iPhones will switch directly to the 3nm chipset or if Apple would use a stop-gap solution and use a 4nm chipset instead.

A previous report from December noted that Apple has likely used up all of TSMC’s 3nm supply capacity for its devices.

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Nikkei Asia, on the other hand, had reported that the 3nm M1 chipset could debut in a 2022 iPad Pro. Notably, the 2021 iPad Pro is powered by a 5nm M1 chipset, bringing notebook-class performance to tablets.

Why is the 3nm chipset important?



The main advantage of using chipsets with smaller die shrinks – 3nm, in this case – is that they offer performance and energy efficiency improvements.

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TSMC claims that its 3nm process offers a performance boost of up to 15%, and up to 30% energy efficiency improvements over the current 5nm process.

To kick things off, TSMC is said to begin production of 3nm chipsets with a capacity of 30,000 silicon wafers per month, ramping it up to 1,05,000 within a year.

Apart from Apple, Intel is also said to be working with TSMC on two 3nm projects. Although Intel designs and manufactures its chipsets, it could be seeking TSMC’s help until it can get its manufacturing processes in order, as it looks to recoup the market share it has lost to AMD and Nvidia over the past few years.

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