The current Apple A14 and M1 chipsets are both fabricated on the same 5nm TSMC node, but the two product lines are set to differ next year – the iPhone 14 chipset will be manufactured on a 4nm node, while the next large M series chip release will be based on the more advanced 3 nm node, according to Nikkei Asia.
For context, let’s look at what comes later in the year. The A15 chipset for iPhone 13 is produced on the renewed N5P node at TSMC, which offers a 5% increase in clock speed or a 10% reduction in power compared to the N5. The M1X is also expected to use the N5P. Apple will unveil the iPhone 13 later this year, new MacBook Pros are also on track for a launch in September.
TSMC managed to complete the development of the 4nm (N4) process ahead of schedule, and MediaTek will be the first to release a 4nm chipset either at the end of this year or in early 2022. In the latter half of 2022, much of the production capacity will be focused on chips for the iPhone 14. The performance benefits of the N4 are yet to be announced.
The 3nm (N3) node is where things start to get interesting, though. TSMC has already signed two major clients – Apple and Intel.
The first devices with 3 nm chips hitting the market are likely to be iPads, according to insiders. Presumably that means new iPad pros with new M2 chipsets.
Intel has reportedly ordered that laptops and server chips be built on the 3nm node and has even ensured a higher volume than Apple. Intel’s foundries have struggled for years with its 10nm node, which also delayed its future nodes, the 7nm is not expected until 2023. This led the technology giant to outsource part of its chip production to TSMC.
Compared to the current N5 node, the N3 is expected to offer a 10-15% increase in power or 25-30% reduction in power consumption.
Interestingly, Nvidia is moving into the server CPU business using the ARM architecture. The first chip (Grace) will arrive in 2023 and will use TSMC’s current 5 nm node (which should then be cheap and with a high yield rate). The company also has a 5 nm GPU (Hopper) on the way too