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Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker and supplier to tech giant Apple, is reportedly making strides in improving its production capacity for chips based on its 3-nanometer process technology. According to industry sources, this technology is expected to debut in this year’s iPhone 15 Pro and upcoming MacBook models.
A report from DigiTimes claims that TSMC’s 5nm fabrication capacity began to loosen in November 2022 as a result of reduced orders from Apple, amongst other partners. Orders for iPhone chips alone were slashed by 30%. However, the Taiwanese manufacturer has been able to keep its utilization rate at 70% or higher thanks to Apple’s thirst for 3nm.
TSMC continues to improve its capacity utilization for 3nm process technology, which is expected to approach 50% at the end of March. The foundry will also grow the process output to 50,000-55,000 wafers monthly in March, with Apple being the main customer.
Apple’s upcoming iPhone 15 Pro models are expected to feature the A17 Bionic processor, which will be Apple’s first iPhone chip based on TSMC’s first-generation 3nm process, also known as N3E. The N3 technology is said to offer significantly improved performance compared to current chips manufactured on 5nm and deliver a 35% power efficiency improvement over TSMC’s 5nm-based N4 fabrication process.
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Apple’s next-generation 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models are both expected to be equipped with an M3 chip, which is also likely to be manufactured on the 3nm process for further performance and power efficiency improvements. Apple is also reportedly planning to release an updated version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with an M3 chip. The M2 chip and its higher-end Pro and Max variants are built on TSMC’s second-generation 5nm process.