23 December 2020
TSMC has been on a winning streak when it comes to acquiring contracts from its prestigious client Apple. It has managed to win contracts from Apple more than anyone in the chip-making industry. And, it does not look like this bond is going to break anytime soon.
According to a report from a Chinese media outlet, TSMC has now gained orders from Apple for 3nm-based chips. This is a fabrication process that is yet to in production and currently, there are no details on the same.
Sources familiar with the matter claim the said chips will likely be used by the future iPads and MacBooks, maybe starting 2022. The report talks only about the MacBooks and iPads, but it is safe to assume that iPhones coming in 2022 will use chips based on TSMC’s 3nm process.
Reports on TSMC starting with 3nm process-based chips production have been around for over 2 years now. It is good to note that the timeline of the launch of the 3nm-based chip matches predictions made earlier.
The use of a smaller nm fabrication process directly relates to higher transistor density, lower power consumption, and higher operating frequency. Reportedly, according to TSMC’s claims, the 3nm process can bring up to 70% increase in transistor density compared to 5nm, or up to 15% performance improvement, and up to 30% power reduction.
Apple used 5nm-based chips for its Macbooks and iPads and iPhones this year. MacBook used new Apple-designed M1 chips and the iPads and iPhones used the A14 chips using the 5nm fabrication process. It is believed Apple’s A16 processor coming in 2022 for the iPhones could be based on a 3nm process.
In related news, another report by Henan China claims TSMC has reportedly announced that it will launch an enhanced version of the 3nm process in 2023. It will be named “3nm Plus” and the first customer to use it will be Apple. The details on the same are scanty but expect it to offer slightly better results over the 3nm.