Apple Expected to Use TSMC's Advanced 5nm+ and 4nm Technologies for Future iPhone Chips, Likely Macs Too

While the A14 Bionic chip in iPhone 12 models was the first chip in the smartphone industry to be manufactured based on a 5nm process, Apple and its chipmaking partner TSMC are reportedly pushing ahead on even smaller nodes.

a14 bionic chip video
Taiwanese research firm TrendForce today reported that Apple plans to use TSMC's next-generation 5nm+ process for the A15 chip in 2021 iPhones. TSMC's website says the 5nm+ process, which it refers to as N5P, is the "performance-enhanced version" of its 5nm process that will deliver additional power efficiency and performance improvements.

Looking farther ahead, TrendForce believes it is highly likely that the A16 chip in 2022 iPhones will be manufactured based on TSMC's future 4nm process, paving the way for further improvements to performance, power efficiency, and density.

These continued process advancements should result in future iPhones continuing to provide industry-leading performance among smartphones, while the power efficiency gains could contribute to longer battery life. And considering that TSMC also manufactures Apple Silicon chips, including the 5nm-based M1 chip, these process advancements will likely extend to Apple's chips in future Macs — perhaps an "M1X" or "M2" chip or so forth.

Rumors suggest that future Apple Silicon Macs will include new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with an all-new form factor as early as Q2 2021, in addition to a redesigned 24-inch iMac and a smaller version of the Mac Pro.

Related Roundup: iPhone 13
Buyer's Guide: iPhone 13 (Buy Now)
Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

ohbrilliance Avatar
11 months ago

Also water is wet.
Water is not wet. It makes other things wet by sticking to it.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pjoh7 Avatar
11 months ago
This is revolutionary. The reason 5 nm took so long is because traditional 193 nm ArFi DUV lithography (the process by which light is used to pattern wafers using photoresist) needed multiple patterning to achieve 10 nm. Now that EUV, which has been in development by ASML for over 25 years is finally ready, we can finally scale down to sub 7 nm, without the need for multiple patterning. Even more exciting is when ASML will release their high-NA EUV tools next year, we'll be seeing bigger jumps and node shrinks.

ASML is one of the most important companies on planet earth now, and few even know it exists.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vanilla35 Avatar
11 months ago
M2 chip here we come! My future mac :D
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
11 months ago

I’m curious, how far can they go with shrinking nodes? Is sub-nanometer a thing? If it isn’t, how does the industry move on from silicon?
Yes, they can go sub-nanometer. They can keep going until quantum effects prevent the ability to shut of the transistor gate. As they get smaller they will modify the gate geometries (which they’ve already done once, when they moved to FINFETs instead of MOSFETs) in order to provide a stronger electrical field to shut off the gate. At some point they may have to go to vertical transistors, like bipolar devices, where the layer thicknesses are the critical dimensions (since those are easier to control). At the point where they can finally go no further, they may have to switch to semiconductors with heterojunctions (e.g. GaAs or InP) in order to increase carrier mobility without shrinking the gates further. Or they can use bandgap engineering with silicon (which already occurs - most process now use germanium to modify the bandgap).

It will be quite awhile before things hit a dead end.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
=Alb= Avatar
11 months ago

I’m curious, how far can they go with shrinking nodes? Is sub-nanometer a thing? If it isn’t, how does the industry move on from silicon?
I remember many years ago, when maybe they where at 120nm, that the physical limit was supposed to be around 8-10nm. I don't know what to believe today. A silicon atom is 0.2 nm.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
KPOM Avatar
11 months ago
The M1 is just the beginning. I see a bright future for Apple Silicon Macs.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

m2 feature purple

Apple Preparing Faster M2 Chip for Next-Gen MacBook Pro

Tuesday June 1, 2021 3:04 am PDT by
Apple is readying its more powerful, next-generation "M2" chip for redesigned MacBook Pro models, according to recent reports. According to Nikkei Asia, Apple's next-generation custom silicon chip for the Mac, tentatively dubbed the "M2" chip, entered production in April. The processors take at least three months to produce and could begin shipping to Apple as early as July, in time for...
m2 feature

Apple Silicon M2 Chip Coming to Wave of New Macs

Monday May 24, 2021 2:27 am PDT by
Apple's more powerful "M2" chip is set to come to a wave of new Macs, bringing significant performance and efficiency improvements to a range of new models, according to recent reports. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously said that Apple is working on higher-end Apple silicon chips that are expected to "significantly outpace" the performance of the latest Macs that still contain Intel chips,...
tsmc semiconductor chip inspection 678x452

TSMC on Track to Begin Volume Production of 3nm Chips in 2022

Monday March 1, 2021 2:32 am PST by
TSMC, Apple's main chip supplier, is on track to begin risk production of a 3-nanometer fabrication process in the second half of this year, when the foundry will be capable of processing 30,000 wafers built using the more advanced technology, according to a new report today (via DigiTimes). TSMC reportedly plans to expand its 3nm process capacity to 55,000 units monthly in 2022, thanks to...
ipad pro with m1 chip

Apple Ramping Up M1 Production as New 12.9-inch iPad Pro Expected to Reach Five Million Shipments in 2021

Thursday April 22, 2021 2:19 am PDT by
Apple is seemingly expecting high demand for its new M1-powered iPad Pro as the company has asked its main chip supplier, TSMC, to ramp up production of the chip for its new iPad, and newer Mac computers, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. Earlier this week, Apple unveiled a brand new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro powered by the M1 Apple silicon chip, the same chip powering the new...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

Apple Supplier TSMC Reportedly Begins Production of A15 Bionic Chip for iPhone 13

Tuesday May 25, 2021 11:36 pm PDT by
Following a report indicating that production would begin ahead of schedule, longtime Apple supplier TSMC has now officially kicked off production of Apple's upcoming A15 chip for the iPhone 13 lineup, expected later on in the second half of this year, according to a new paywalled report from DigiTimes. The A14 Bionic chip, which first got announced in the iPad Air and then made its way to...
tsmc semiconductor chip inspection 678x452

Construction of Apple Supplier Plant in Arizona 'Well Under Way,' Will Manufacture Chips by 2024

Wednesday June 2, 2021 4:15 am PDT by
Apple chip supplier TSMC is moving ahead with plans for a manufacturing plant in Phoenix, Arizona, according to Bloomberg. In November of 2020, Phoenix city officials approved financial incentives and government support for the new plant. The city agreed to provide $200 million in support to build infrastructure including roads and sewers, according to a notice from the city's council....
apple chip lab

Apple Chip Supplier TSMC to Expand Production Capacity With $100 Billion Investment Over Next Three Years

Thursday April 1, 2021 12:28 am PDT by
Long-time Apple supplier TSMC, which produces A-series chips for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple silicon chips for the Mac, will invest $100 billion over the next three years to significantly expand its production capacity to meet ever-increasing demand, Bloomberg reports. TSMC previously announced a planned expenditure of up to $28 billion in 2021 alone; however, an ongoing chip shortage is...
m2 feature

Apple's 'M2' Next-Gen Mac Chip Enters Mass Production, Expected to Debut in Redesigned MacBooks Later This Year

Tuesday April 27, 2021 1:38 am PDT by
Apple's custom next-generation Mac processor entered mass production this month, claims a new report today from Nikkei Asia. Tentatively dubbed the "M2" after Apple's M1 chip, the processors take at least three months to produce and could begin shipping as early as July in time for incorporation in Apple's next line of MacBooks, according to the paper's sources. The next generation of Mac...
m1x feature dark blue

Shaky Rumor Claims Redesigned MacBook Pros Will Feature 'M1X' Chip and Remove the Front Logo

Friday May 21, 2021 7:27 am PDT by
A questionable report is today claiming that Apple's next-generation MacBook Pro models will feature an "M1X" chip and remove the "MacBook Pro" logo from below the display. The report from 9to5Mac says that "a source with a decent track record," iOS developer Dylandkt made the claims. According to Dylandkt, "Apple's planned name for the MacBook Pro chips" is the "M1X."The M1X is an extension ...
tsmc semiconductor chip inspection 678x452

Apple Supplier TSMC Says Global Chip Shortage Likely to Last into 2022

Thursday April 15, 2021 2:01 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMC today said it is doing all it can to increase productivity and alleviate the worldwide chip shortage, but that tight supplies will likely continue into next year (via Reuters). The comments followed a reported 19.4% rise in the Taiwanese firm's first-quarter profit, which beat market expectations, thanks to strong chip demand and a global shift to home working. TSMC...