TSMC begins pilot production of 3nm chips, could be used in 2023 iPhones and Macs

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Apple’s chip manufacturing partner, TSMC, is expected to begin volume production of 3-nanometer chips during the fourth quarter of 2022, according to a new report from DigiTimes. This could mean that we start seeing 3nm chips in Apple products as soon as 2023.

The DigiTimes report itself is sparse on details, citing anonymous “industry sources.” The report indicates that TSMC has started “pilot production” of 3nm chips, with volume production currently slated for Q4 2022:

TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built using N3 (namely 3nm process technology) at its Fab 18 in southern Taiwan, and will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022, according to industry sources.

Apple’s goal of using 3nm chips in the Mac, iPhone, and iPad was first detailed in a report from The Information last month. The changeover is expected to begin with the iPhone and Mac in 2023, despite some rumors that suggested the iPhone 14 in 2022 could feature a 3nm chip.

For context, the A15, M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max chips are all fabricated using a 5nm process – using a smaller fabrication process will allow Apple to make significant gains in both performance and efficiency. In fact, reports say that Apple’s roadmap suggests it will continue to “easily outperform Intel’s future processors for consumer PCs.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that plans may change between now and 2023. TSMC has reportedly faced challenges in the transition to 3nm production, so delays are not of the question. Regardless, if everything goes according to plan, we could see the first 3nm iPhone and Mac hardware, with significant performance and efficiency improvements, in late 2023.

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