Apple predicted to adopt 4nm process for 'A16' processor

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Apple's A14 system-on-chip just debuted this year, but market analysts are already making predictions about next-next-generation silicon. TrendForce in a report Wednesday said it expects the iPhone maker to move to a smaller 4nm process in about two years.

A14


In a report covering Apple manufacturing partner TSMC, TrendForce notes Apple is currently the chipmaker's sole customer for output from its 5nm foundry. Regarded as TSMC's most advanced node, 5nm lines were originally tapped to produce chips for Huawei subsidiary HiSilicon before U.S. sanctions halted those efforts.

Citing "current data," the research firm anticipates TSMC to accommodate orders for an "A16" SoC using 4nm technology. The timing is consistent with Apple's design trends.

Since the A10X, which was fabricated using TSMC's 10nm FinFET process, A-series chips have undergone a die shrink every other year. Current A14 Bionic and M1 silicon are the first to use a 5nm architecture, suggesting the next jump will come with "A16" in 2022.

Qualcomm will follow suit and adopt TSMC's 4nm process for future Snapdragon chips, TrendForce predicts.

A die shrink results in efficiency and performance gains, and opens the door to more complex designs capable of taking on advanced tasks. As noted by Apple, the new M1 chips leverage the 5nm process to cram in 16 billion transistors.

In the interim between A14 and "A16," Apple is expected to move to TSMC's 5nm+ wafer technology for an "A15" SoC that will likely power "iPhone 13" next year.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    Does Moore’s law continue on but without Intel in the mix? 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    I underatand we went from iphone x to xs, to 11, to 12 (big design change from 11), but why is the next iphone being called 13? Surely its more likely to be the 12s?
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,545member
    lkrupp said:
    Does Moore’s law continue on but without Intel in the mix? 
    We’re near the end. There will have to be some astounding developments to get beyond 3nm.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 13
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,545member

    ionicle said:
    I underatand we went from iphone x to xs, to 11, to 12 (big design change from 11), but why is the next iphone being called 13? Surely its more likely to be the 12s?
    Good question. But it’s just a name.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    Ok, so 3nm is a limit. Or 2 or 1 or 0.5.

    What do chip makers do next? How else do you keep improving processors beyond some gimmicky feature that doesn’t do anything except distinguish this years product from last year’s? Even if Moore’s law is doomed I can’t believe that increasing processing power is going to become completely stagnant in the next 5-20 years. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    AS I understand this, 1 nm is 4 silicon atoms wide, so 5nm is 20 atoms wide, 4nm would be 16 atoms wide, so they do appear to be approaching a limit at least when it comes to shrinking the size. Perhaps they can start having multiple layers, going 3D.
    williamlondonwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 7 of 13
    robabarobaba Posts: 228member
    Ok, so 3nm is a limit. Or 2 or 1 or 0.5.

    What do chip makers do next? How else do you keep improving processors beyond some gimmicky feature that doesn’t do anything except distinguish this years product from last year’s? Even if Moore’s law is doomed I can’t believe that increasing processing power is going to become completely stagnant in the next 5-20 years. 
    They do what Apple has done: optimizing the hell between os and hardware with increasingly specialized co-processors to speed specific functions.  MS might have to try to buy AMD or NVidia.
    watto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 8 of 13
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 1,034member
    "Announcing the iPhone 18, with the all new A20, the first phone with a 45pico processor!"
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    Drastic miniaturization means more on-body computing devices, so I fully expect those Apple Glasses to make an appearance in a year or two at most.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,127member
    melgross said:
    lkrupp said:
    Does Moore’s law continue on but without Intel in the mix? 
    We’re near the end. There will have to be some astounding developments to get beyond 3nm.
    Wrong.  2nm fabs are already in the works, and scheduled to begin producing chips as early as 2023.  Also, Intel has been working on 1.4nm chips. 

    https://www.gsmarena.com/tsmc_announces_plans_for_2nm_chipset_factory-news-44911.php

    Also, Moore's Law and chip performance are not solely dependent on die size.  

    Why do people who know nothing about a subject render opinions?
    edited November 2020 williamlondonwatto_cobrabyronl
  • Reply 11 of 13
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,127member
    lkrupp said:
    Does Moore’s law continue on but without Intel in the mix? 
    Moore's law is an observation by a person of the periodic increased of the number of transistors on a chip, based on the historical evolution of semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. It is not rooted in any science.  Moreover, the number of transistors on a chip is not the sole (or even the primary) determinant of chip performance. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 13
    Apple is not TSMC's sole 5nm client. The other is AMD whose entire CPU / GPU line goes 5nm Fall 2021. Samples early Spring 2021. This 4nm/3nm stuff is a few years away folks.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 13
    flydog said:
    melgross said:
    lkrupp said:
    Does Moore’s law continue on but without Intel in the mix? 
    We’re near the end. There will have to be some astounding developments to get beyond 3nm.
    Wrong.  2nm fabs are already in the works, and scheduled to begin producing chips as early as 2023.  Also, Intel has been working on 1.4nm chips. 

    https://www.gsmarena.com/tsmc_announces_plans_for_2nm_chipset_factory-news-44911.php

    Also, Moore's Law and chip performance are not solely dependent on die size.  

    Why do people who know nothing about a subject render opinions?
    There isn't a single person I know at Intel who predicts 2nm by 2023. Slide that back further. The FinFET is what is scaling down. TSMC and Intel have a lot of research in completely different materials to meet their targets of 4nm/3nm/2nm, but for sure it is years away and Intel even further behind.

    5nm will see a few iterations before 4nm arrives. 7nm will be a focus for IoT for the next decade that includes routers, switches, etc.
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