Apple chipmaker already preparing for its next-next-gen chips


Gather_Round_A12Bionic 2
TSMC debuted its 7-nanometer process with last year's A12 Bionic chip.
Photo: Apple

Apple chipmaker TSMC has kicked off development of its 3-nanometer process for future chips.

TSMC unveiled its 7-nanometer process with last year’s A12 Bionic chip. It is taking its 7nm tech for a victory lap with the A13 Bionic chip for this year’s iPhones. But according to the Apple chipmaker’s VP of corporate research Philip Wong there’s still plenty of space at the bottom.

Decreasing the number of nanometers in chip design means being able to pack more transistors onto a chip by reducing the size between each one.

The A10 chips that shipped with 2016s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were made with the 16-nanometer process. They packed on 3.3 billion transistors. By comparison, this year’s A13 Bionic chip’s 7-nanometer process contains 8.5 billion transistors.

The approximate doubling of transistors on a chip every 12 to 18 months is the basis for Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law keeps on trucking

In recent years, there’s been plenty of speculation that Moore’s Law will slow down. While that doesn’t mean the end of computing advances, it would have a noticeable impact. But TSMC seems confident it’s got some future advances up its sleeve before we reach that point. The company is on the record saying Moore’s Law is alive and well.

We know that the company is already working on its 5-nanometer process. These will supposedly be used in next year’s iPhone refresh. Now Philip Wong has revealed that the R&D for 3-nanometer chips is underway, too. He even suggested that 2-nanometer and 1-nanometer processes aren’t out of the question.

It might be some time before these are ready for a future A-series chip, but it’s exciting news nonetheless. Even if, for now, the 7-nanometer A13 Bionic chip looks like it’ll do everything we need.

Source: Digitimes (paywall)


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