Share This Article
Apple has reportedly secured exclusive rights to all available orders for TSMC’s first-generation 3-nanometer process, known as N3, which is expected to power the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro lineup and new MacBooks slated for release in the second half of 2023.
According to a paywalled report by DigiTimes, Apple has acquired 100% of the initial N3 supply despite higher costs and a decline in TSMC‘s utilization rate in the first half of this year. TSMC began mass production of its 3nm process in late December and has since gradually scaled up process capacity, with monthly output set to reach 45,000 wafers in March.
The N3 technology is expected to be used for the A17 Bionic chip, which will likely power the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models. This technology promises a 35% improvement in power efficiency over the 4nm technology used in the A16 Bionic chip for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models.
Apple has a history of being the first to market with cutting-edge semiconductor technology, as evidenced by the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models, which were the first smartphones to feature chips built on the 4nm process. The company’s plans to release a new MacBook Air in the second half of 2023 may also include equipping it with a 3nm chip, according to DigiTimes.
However, display industry analyst Ross Young has claimed that a 15-inch MacBook Air will be released in the first half of 2023, suggesting that both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Airs with M3 chips based on 3nm technology may launch in the second half of 2023 instead.
Looking ahead, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pros slated for release in 2024 will feature M3 Pro and M3 Max chips based on TSMC’s 3nm process. These models are expected to go into mass production in the first half of 2024.
Compared to the current chips manufactured on a 5-nanometer process, such as the M2 Pro found in Apple’s current high-end Mac mini and the M2 Pro and M2 Max used in its latest 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, the 3nm technology promises improved performance and better power efficiency.
TSMC is also set to release an enhanced version of N3, known as N3E, in the second half of this year, with Apple being the first customer to adopt the process, according to another report by DigiTimes. While Nikkei Asia previously reported that Apple could adopt N3E for devices launching as soon as this year, no other reports have corroborated this timeline.