Apple Supplier TSMC Starts Mass Production on 3nm Chips
Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) today started mass production of next-generation 3-nanometer chips that will be used in future Apple devices like iPhones, reports Bloomberg.
TSMC is producing the chips at its southern Taiwan campus, and TSMC chairman Mark Liu said that demand for the technology is "very strong."
The 3-nanometer chips will offer improved performance over the current 5-nanometer chips but with 35 percent less power use. Apple could start adopting 3nm processors in 2023, as rumors suggest the A17 in the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro will use 3nm technology.
In the future, TSMC will manufacture 3nm chips at a U.S. plant that's being built, with production to start in 2026. TSMC's first U.S. plant in Arizona will start with manufacturing 4-nanometer chips when it opens in 2024. TSMC is also developing 2nm chip technology, with those cutting-edge chips set to be produced in Taiwan.
Top Rated Comments
MacBook Air was released in July 2022. Apple will complete its full 12 months of transition before releasing a new MacBook Air. Therefore, MBA in the late fall of 2023.
(a) There are two TSMC N3 processes, the first one (originally just called N3, now called N3B) and a modified one called N3E.
(b) Apple's first N3 products will be on N3B.
(c) N3B gives, among other improvements, a density boost of 1.7x and a power reduction of ~25%
N3E gives, among other improvements, a density boost of 1.6x but a power reduction of ~34%
(d) It APPEARS to be the case that N3B began volume production in late September:
(e) It APPEARS that this ceremony refers to N3E, but it's honestly impossible to tell whether N3B was delayed three months, or N3E is being rushed into production ASAP. My GUESS is that it's the latter, N3B was on schedule in September, but N3B is yesterday's news, an experiment that pushed things too far and that is being abandoned by TSMC as soon as contractual obligations to Apple (and anyone else?) are done.Since N3E will be the only option going forward, that's the one they want to get all the media oxygen.
(If this theory is correct, it's something of a change for TSMC. In the past supposedly "unsuccessful" experiments, like 10nm, were not just useful learning exercise, but stuck around for a while for others customers to use if they wanted. N3B looks like TSMC have no interest in keeping it around longer than necessary.
My guess [once again a guess] is that the TSMC engine broke down because of covid. Problems with N3B that, in the past, could have been figured out via engineers shutting between Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Japan, had to be handled more slowly and inefficiently via Zoom calls and eventually TSMC made the call to just abandon the most aggressive aspect of the design [the EUV double-patterning] and switch to a less dense, and less aggressive, set of design parameters.
Probably if Apple were not already somewhat committed to N3B [having already "delayed" an iPhone chip, in that the A16 is a disappointing A15 moved to N4 because N3B was not ready yet, and having already delayed the next set of high end Macs] TSMC would have dropped N3B without anyone even really knowing, and just shifted to N3E as "N3".)