Apple has already committed to chip supplier TSMC to produce second-generation 3nm chips, known as N3E, which are expected to be used in all four models of the iPhone 16 lineup next year.
TSMC's next 3nm node upgrade to N3E is cheaper and delivers higher performance than the Taiwan foundry's first-generation 3nm process . N3B, which debuted in the smartphone market with the A17 Pro chip, which is used in Apple iPhone 15 Pro models. The N3E process also aims to improve chip performance and power consumption.
According to DigiTimes sources, the foundry has already moved the N3E into mass production and plans to replace the updated version of the N3 starting in 2024. With the exception of Samsung, all major chip suppliers will use N3E, and TSMC has already received order commitments from its customers, the largest of which is Apple.
Apple will receive all of TSMC's first-generation 3nm chips this year. Back in May, it was known that Apple had reserved almost 90 percent of the 3nm production of its devices. Apple is currently projected to take over 100 percent of TSMC's capacity in 2023 due to delays in Intel's wafer needs due to later changes to the company's CPU platform design plans.
TSMC is expected to will receive 4-6 percent of capacity its total sales in 2023 will be 3nm technology thanks to Apple's huge orders for N3B chips for iPhone 15 devices. The foundry's sales from Apple alone are expected to be $3.4 billion this year .
According to the report, TSMC also plans to move N3P into mass production in the second half of 2024. N3P is said to provide additional gains over N3E: 5 percent faster speed at the same leakage, 5 to 10 percent lower power consumption at the same speed, and 1.04 times higher chip density.
All four iPhone 16 models will feature A18-branded chips based on TSMC's N3E node, according to Jeff Pu, a frequently accurate analyst who covers companies in Apple's supply chain. The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are equipped with the A16 Bionic chip, so the move to the A18 chip for the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus will be significant.
Given the iPhone 16 lineup is about a year before launch, Pu is likely making educated guesses on marketing names, so it remains to be seen whether Apple will actually move forward with the branding of the A18 and A18 Pro.
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