Apple Partner TSMC Unveils Advanced 1.6nm Process for 2026 Chips

Apple chipmaker TSMC has announced plans to produce highly advanced 1.6nm chips that could be destined for future generations of Apple silicon.

apple silicon 1 feature
TSMC yesterday unveiled a series of technologies, including the "A16" process, which is a 1.6nm node. The new technology significantly enhances chip logic density and performance, promising substantial improvements for high-performance computing (HPC) products and data centers.

Historically, Apple is among the first companies to adopt new, state-of-the-art chip fabrication technologies. For example, it was the first company to utilize TSMC's 3nm node with the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro and ‌iPhone 15 Pro‌ Max, and Apple is likely to follow suit with the chipmaker's upcoming nodes. Apple's most advanced chip designs have historically appeared in the iPhone before making their way to the iPad and Mac lineups, and ultimately trickling down to the Apple Watch and Apple TV.

The A16 technology, which TSMC plans to begin producing in 2026, incorporates innovative nanosheet transistors along with a novel backside power rail solution. This development is expected to provide an 8-10% increase in speed and a 15-20% reduction in power consumption at the same speeds compared to TSMC's N2P process, alongside up to a 1.10x chip density improvement.

TSMC also announced the rollout of its System-on-Wafer (SoW) technology, which integrates multiple dies on a single wafer to boost computing power while occupying less space—a development that could be transformative for Apple's data center operations. TSMC's first SoW offering, which is already in production, is based on Integrated Fan-Out (InFO) technology. A more advanced chip-on-wafer version leveraging CoWoS technology is slated for readiness in 2027.

TSMC is also making progress toward manufacturing 2nm and 1.4nm chips that are likely destined for future generations of Apple silicon. Its 2nm "N2" node is scheduled for trial production in the second half of 2024 and mass production in late 2025, to be followed by an enhanced "N2P" process in late 2026. Trial production of the 2nm node will begin in the second half of 2024, with small-scale production ramping up in the second quarter of 2025. In 2027, facilities in Taiwan will start to shift toward production of "A14" 1.4nm chips.

Apple's upcoming A18 chips for the iPhone 16 lineup are expected to be based on N3E, while the "A19" for the 2025 ‌iPhone‌ models is expected to be Apple's first 2nm chip. The subsequent year, Apple will likely move to an enhanced version of this 2nm node, followed by the newly announced 1.6nm process.

Each successive TSMC node surpasses its predecessor in terms of transistor density, performance, and efficiency. Late last year, it emerged that TSMC had already demonstrated prototype 2nm chips to Apple ahead of their expected introduction in 2025.

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Top Rated Comments

jo-1 Avatar
5 weeks ago
reminds me of the video from Seagate with respect to size

I love that video- since it summarizes where we're standing today:

and the historic video that triggered my interest 1 ½ decades ago

Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
headlessmike Avatar
5 weeks ago
Remember that this is just a naming scheme, the actual gate pitch will be somewhere like 40-45 nm.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
5 weeks ago
The circuit boards will be so small that surely Apple will be able to reissue the iPhone mini. :rolleyes:
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klasma Avatar
5 weeks ago

To put this into some perspective: In April 2010, Apple introduced its first in-house processor, the A4. It was build on a 45nm node. Now we are looking at a 1.6 or even 1.4nm nodes. That's insane. to go from 45nm to 1.4nm in 16 years...that's about a 96.5% drop in node size.
This is misleading. The 45 nm process had a gate pitch of 160 nm, and the 2 nm and 1 nm processes have a predicted gate pitch of 45 and 42 nm, respectively. In that measure, it’s a reduction to 35–38 % over 16-ish years, which is still impressive, but less unexpected.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cocky jeremy Avatar
5 weeks ago

wow so small
Don't say that. You're giving me flashbacks! ?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Siliconguy Avatar
5 weeks ago

I remember when they were saying that the end of Moore's law was in sight, and the practicality of smaller nodes was doubtful... that was *decades* and many, many shrinks ago. The rate of change has gotten slower but they're still marching forward. Pretty amazing.

Presumably they'll hit a wall eventually, and it'll be mighty interesting to see what happens then.
The Van Der Waals's radius of silicon is 210 picometers, so the diameter of an atom is 0.42 nm. There is your hard limit. Actually they won't get that close to it. The feature size TSMC (or Intel) quotes is not based on real physical features.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)