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Apple’s influence in the semiconductor industry continues to grow as it reportedly reserves nearly 90% of TSMC’s first-generation 3-nanometer (3nm) process capacity for its upcoming iPhones, Macs, and iPads. Industry sources, cited by DigiTimes, suggest that this move will provide a substantial boost to the Taiwanese foundry’s growth in the latter half of 2023.
The highly anticipated iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to feature Apple’s A17 Bionic processor, which will be the company’s first iPhone chip based on TSMC’s cutting-edge 3nm process, also known as N3B. This advanced technology is projected to deliver an impressive 35% improvement in power efficiency and a 15% increase in performance when compared to the 4nm process utilized for the A16 Bionic chip found in the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max.
Not only will Apple leverage the benefits of the 3nm process for its iPhones, but its forthcoming M3 chip for Macs and iPads is also set to take advantage of this advanced manufacturing technique. Reports suggest that the initial devices featuring the M3 chip could include an updated 13-inch MacBook Air and a 24-inch iMac, both of which may make their debut later this year.
Additionally, industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo anticipates that the next-generation iPad Pro models, slated for release next year, will be powered by M3 chips. Looking further ahead, Kuo speculates that the 2024 lineup of MacBook Pro models, including the rumored 14-inch and 16-inch variants, will incorporate the high-performance M3 Pro and M3 Max chips.
Recent insights obtained by Mark Gurman through an App Store developer log shed light on Apple’s ongoing chip development efforts. The information suggests that Apple is currently conducting tests on a new chip boasting a 12-core CPU, 18-core GPU, and a generous 36 GB of memory. This chip is likely to serve as the base-level M3 Pro for the upcoming 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models expected to launch next year.
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The future Apple silicon chips, built on the 3nm process, are poised to offer significant performance enhancements. According to The Information, these chips may feature up to four dies, allowing for the support of up to 40 compute cores.
In comparison, the M2 chip boasts a 10-core CPU, while the M2 Pro and Max variants feature 12-core CPUs. The move to the 3nm process has the potential to revolutionize multi-core performance, marking a notable milestone in Apple’s chip technology since 2020.
While TSMC is diligently working on the development of an enhanced 3nm process known as N3E, Apple’s devices will initially adopt the N3B generation. The N3E process is expected to enter commercial production in the latter half of 2023; however, actual shipments are not anticipated to ramp up until 2024, as reported by DigiTimes.
Apple’s strategic partnership with TSMC and its strong commitment to cutting-edge chip technology continues to position the company at the forefront of innovation. By securing a significant portion of TSMC’s 3nm process capacity, Apple is poised to deliver even more powerful and efficient devices to its loyal customer base, solidifying its reputation as a leader in the tech industry.