Apple chipmaker racing ahead with its next next-gen nanometer process

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Apple chipmaker racing ahead with its next next-gen nanometer process
TSMC is preparing for the future.
Photo: Apple

Apple chipmaker TSMC is busy preparing the nanometer process for its next-next generation chips, which could find their way into future Apple devices.

The leading chipmaking giant has secured 30 hectares of land in the Southern Taiwan Science Park. This is where it will house the foundry for chips made using its 3 nanometer process. Based on past progress, these would hit the iPhone sometime around 2021 or 2022.

The iPhone’s current A13 Bionic processor uses TSMC’s 7 nanometer process. TSMC debuted this process last year with the A12 Bionic chip for the iPhone XR and XS. It was singled out by Fast Company as one of the tech achievements of the year.

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. For example, the A7 chip in 2013’s iPhone 5s had just over 1 billion transistors, made with the 28 nanometer process. By comparison, this year’s A13 Bionic chip 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.

Right now, TSMC is working on its 5-nanometer process. These will supposedly be used in next year’s iPhone refresh. TSMC has supposedly started sampling the A14 Bionic chips earlier than usual. Apple reportedly received the first engineering samples in late September.

TSMC has suggested that 2-nanometer and 1-nanometer processes aren’t out of the question for the future.

Source: Digitimes (paywall)