Apple seems to have taken an impressive step forward with the new M1 Macs – and the small structural width of the processors is partly responsible for the performance values: Apple manufactures the A14 in the iPhone and iPad as well as the M1 chip at TSMC with a structural width of 5 nm. This means that the Apple processors generate significantly less waste heat than similar Intel processors with larger structure widths.
Apple secures 3 and 4 nm production
According to one Chinese report Apple is said to have already secured further production capacities at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC for short). With the A14 and the M1, Apple is currently using almost the full 5 nm production capacity of TSMC – and it is to be expected that other major customers will also be left behind with the 3 nm process. This could be different with the 4 nm process, since Qualcomm is also available for production.
TSMC plans to be able to offer chips in the 3-nm process in 2022 – test production is to begin in 2021. According to the report, TSMC wants to introduce yet another production process before it is introduced – namely with 4 nm. It is not known whether Apple will use this process for the A15 coming in 2021 or will set it directly to 3 nm with the A16 in 2022. A month ago, however, rumors surfaced that Apple will be using a structure width of 4 nm with the A15. TSMC wants to offer customers, for whom the 3-nm process is too expensive or if no more capacities are available, an alternative with the 4-nm process. With this step TSMC hopes to extend the service life of the production systems, which are currently producing chips in the 5 nm process and can be converted to 4 nm.
Samsung also with 3 nm, test production smoothly
Competitor Samsung is also announcing production in the 3 nm process for 2022 – but TSMC with its own production process will be on the market about six months earlier. At TSMC, industry observers are currently running smoothly according to the internal test production – but Samsung has even bigger problems.