Apple’s 2020 iPhone chip will blow away the A12 Bionic

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Apple's A12 Bionic is the gold standard. Right now, at least.
Photo: Apple

Apple pushed boundaries with last year’s iPhone’s A12 Bionic chip. However, it seems that the company’s 2020-era iPhones is going to blow away Apple’s previous 7-nanometer A12 — with what could turn out to be the mobile world’s first 5-nanometer chip.

If true, this would be another massive leap in miniaturization. And another feather in the cap of manufacturer TSMC.

According to a report by Digitimes:

“TSMC is expected to secure the first 5nm chip orders from Apple for the 2020 iPhones, [according to sources]  … Despite its dim business and industry outlook this year, TSMC claimed it is making progress in the development of sub-7nm process technologies with plans to move a newer 5nm EUV process to volume production by 2020 well on track.”

Reaching smaller number in terms of nanometers is no guarantee of performance boosts. However, being able to reduce the size between transistors means being able to pack more of them on. This can then greatly improve performance. If Apple’s past miniaturization leaps are anything to go on, the 2020 iPhone should turn out to be something quite special.

The A12X chip was a massive achievement

The A12 was one of the first mobile chips to use the 7-nanometer process. Whether Apple was first or second depends on your perspective. That’s because Huawei showed off its 7nm Kirin 980 first, but Apple shipped its 7nm iPhones before Huawei.

Nonetheless, packing 6.9 billion transistors onto a tiny chip was astonishing. In Fast Company‘s recent rundown of innovative companies, the A12 chip was singled out as being Apple’s biggest feat of 2018.

TSMC will be making Apple’s A13 chips for this year’s iPhones. However, they will be made using the 7nm process. Despite this, expect performance upgrades thanks to new processes involving extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). This allows for more detailed microscopic patterns to be placed onto chips.