Alleged Apple chip plans suggest ‘A16’ will stay with 5nm, ‘M2’ to move to 3nm instead

mobtkr27 May 2022Last Update : 4 weeks ago
Alleged Apple chip plans suggest ‘A16’ will stay with 5nm, ‘M2’ to move to 3nm instead

The “A16” chip for the iPhone would be made using the same process as the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13, with Apple saving a bigger leap in performance for the “M2” chip designed for its next-generation Macs. Meanwhile, the company is working on a “final” variant of the M1 chip that uses more powerful cores from the A15, according to the leaker known as “ShrimpApplePro”.

In a thread on twitterShrimpApplePro has shared information from “a fairly reliable source” that claims to reveal Apple’s chip plans for the upcoming A16 and M2 chips, as well as the “final” variant of the M1 chip family.

The A16 would be based on TSMC’s 5nm process, just like the A14, A15 and M1 chips. Previous reports were unclear as to whether the A16 will be made with TSMC’s more advanced 4nm process, with an ambiguous report of DigiTimes claiming that Apple plans to use TSMC’s 4nm N4P process – but N4P is actually an enhanced third-generation version of the 5nm process. On the other hand, ShrimpApplePro said that the A16 will use TSMC’s N5P process. This suggests that the A16 might be a less significant upgrade than previously thought.

According to the information, the A16 improvements will come from minor CPU, GPU and memory improvements instead. Mirroring a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, ShrimpApplePro said the A16 will specifically feature LPDDR 5 memory. LPDDR 5 memory is up to 1.5 times faster and up to 30% more power efficient than the 4X LPDDR memory associated with the A15 chip of the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.

The M2 chip will apparently be the first Apple chip to switch to TSMC’s 3nm process, skipping 4nm altogether. The M2 is believed to be Apple’s first custom ARMv9 processor.

Apple is also reportedly working on the “final M1-series SoC”, with updated cores. The M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max, and M1 Ultra chips use power-efficient “Icestorm” cores and high-performance “Firestorm” cores, just like the A14 Bionic chip. Apple’s latest M1 variant is said to be based on the A15 Bionic instead, with energy-efficient “Blizzard” cores and high-performance “Avalanche” cores.

This latest chip in the M1 family could be offered in the next-generation Mac Pro, which Apple explicitly teased earlier this year. Currently, Apple’s most powerful chip is the M1 Ultra, which is actually a dubbed version of the M1 Max with a 20-core CPU and 64-core GPU. With the first silicon Apple Mac Pro, Apple is reportedly working on an even more powerful chip than the M1 Ultra. The Mac Studio’s M1 Ultra is already faster than the 28W Intel Xeon chip, so the Mac Pro will have to boast an even more extreme step up in performance.

Alternatively, if not for the Mac Pro, this new chip could be a variant of the standard M1 chip. Kuo said earlier this year that the 2022 MacBook Air would retain the M1 chip rather than the M2, so it’s possible the ShrimpApplePro rumor relates to the entry-level M1 rather than the top-tier M1 variant in the Apple Silicon Mac Pro, or something else entirely. Offering devices with an iteration of the standard M1 chip could help buy Apple time before releasing Macs with the M2 chip.

Other reports claim that the A16 chip will debut exclusively in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max sticking to the A15 Bionic of the iPhone 13, while the M2 chip would mainly be introduced with a new design. MacBook Air later this year, before spreading to a wave of new Macs and potentially the next-gen iPad Pro.

ShrimpApplePro was unsure of the final naming of the “A16”, “M2” and final variant of the M1 chip and said the rumor should be taken with a grain of salt.


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