Apple is already looking ahead to 2nm processors


TSMC 7nm processor
Components in Apple processors keep getting smaller and smaller.
Photo: TSMC

A new report indicates Apple is preparing to start putting CPUs made with a 2nm process in its computers, although they won’t be available for several years. This would allow the chips to perform faster while using less power than today’s best.

Progress marches on… with the occasional stumble. The new report comes after the Mac-maker missed out on chips made with a 3nm process, forcing the company to use a 5nm one in its 2022 Mac, iPhone and iPad models.

Apple processors made with 5nm, 3nm then 2nm process

Apple designs the CPUs for iPhone, Mac and iPad but they are produced by TSMC. And the Taiwanese company has been able to shrink the components of Apple’s chips every year or two, allowing them to work faster while generating less waste heat.

Progress doesn’t always come on schedule, though. Apple processors like the M1 and A15 were made with a 5nm process, and the company hoped to transition to a 3nm process this year. But TSMC couldn’t iron out problems until it was too late. So the new M2 and A16 still use the 5nm process. The M3 is expected to be Apple’s first with the 3nm process.

And Cupertino is looking past that, to an even more advanced process. “Apple reportedly has been keenly preparing for 2nm chips and is looking to collaborate with TSMC for its in-house developed processors with the new node, which is scheduled to enter volume production in 2025,” reports Digitimes.

The ever-shrinking processor

Much of TSMC’s research and development budget goes into shrinking the distance between processor components. Packing these into a smaller space is how they offer better performance and less waste heat.

This is primarily why the iPhone 14 Pro offers 67% better performance than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and is 60% faster than the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, while still providing a long battery life.

A future Apple CPU made with a 2nm process would boast similar performance gains.


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