2022 iPad Pro expected to get TSMC 3nm chips, 'iPhone 14' will adopt 4nm

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited July 2021
TSMC's new 3nm chip manufacture process may end up in Apple products as soon as a 2022 iPad Pro refresh, but will not be included in the 'iPhone 14' in the same year, supply chain sources suggest.




A report on Friday morning is reiterating not just that the 3nm process is coming, but the 4nm will be adopted in Apple's 2022 iPhone line-up.

Both Apple and Intel are testing designs with TSMC's 3nm chip manufacturing process. Commercial output of the 3nm is expected to begin in the second half of 2022.

TSMC itself has said that the 3nm technology will increase computing performance by up to 15% as compared to 5nm. At the same time, the company says that power consumption will be cut by up to 30%.

The report on Friday discussing the timetable from Nikkei Asia says that Apple's iPad will see the technology first. The "iPhone 14" will use the prior-generation 4nm technology, because of what the publication calls "scheduling reasons."

Apple debuted TSMC's 5nm process in 2020 in the iPhone 12 lineup and the iPad Air. It is using the same process for the M1 chip in Apple Silicon Macs, and in the 2021 iPad Pro.

Intel is also said to be getting in on the TSMC process for use in laptop computers and data center servers. Mass production of Intel's batch isn't expected until the end of 2022, but in a higher volume than that destined for the iPad.

"Currently the chip volume planned for Intel is more than that for Apple's iPad using the 3-nanometer process," one of the Nikkei Asia sources said.

Intel has confirmed that it is working with TSMC for a 2023 product, but declined comment on which process it is using.

Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.

Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast -- and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, "Hey, Siri," to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple's Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,380member
    TSMC's new 3nm chip manufacture process may end up in Apple products as soon as a 2022 iPad Pro refresh, but will not be included in the 'iPhone 14' in the same year, supply chain sources suggest.




    A report on Friday morning is reiterating not just that the 3nm process is coming, but the 4nm will be adopted in Apple's 2022 iPhone line-up.

    Both Apple and Intel are testing designs with TSMC's 3nm chip manufacturing process. Commercial output of the 3nm is expected to begin in the second half of 2022.

    TSMC itself has said that the 3nm technology will increase computing performance by up to 15% as compared to 5nm. At the same time, the company says that power consumption will be cut by up to 30%.

    The report on Friday discussing the timetable from Nikkei Asia says that Apple's iPad will see the technology first. The "iPhone 14" will use the prior-generation 4nm technology, because of what the publication calls "scheduling reasons."

    Apple debuted TSMC's 5nm process in 2020 in the iPhone 12 lineup and the iPad Air. It is using the same process for the M1 chip in Apple Silicon Macs, and in the 2021 iPad Pro.

    Intel is also said to be getting in on the TSMC process for use in laptop computers and data center servers. Mass production of Intel's batch isn't expected until the end of 2022, but in a higher volume than that destined for the iPad.

    "Currently the chip volume planned for Intel is more than that for Apple's iPad using the 3-nanometer process," one of the Nikkei Asia sources said.

    Intel has confirmed that it is working with TSMC for a 2023 product, but declined comment on which process it is using.

    Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.

    Keep up with everything Apple in the weekly AppleInsider Podcast -- and get a fast news update from AppleInsider Daily. Just say, "Hey, Siri," to your HomePod mini and ask for these podcasts, and our latest HomeKit Insider episode too.If you want an ad-free main AppleInsider Podcast experience, you can support the AppleInsider podcast by subscribing for $5 per month through Apple's Podcasts app, or via Patreon if you prefer any other podcast player.
    M series at 3nm seems to indicate much more 3 nm volume than just that of the iPad Pro. Apple isn't going to take a pass on that early production availability. I'd expect refreshes of all the current M series at least by that time.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    thttht Posts: 5,510member
    Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.
    Weird rumors here.

    The iPhone 14 using a 4nm chip imply the 3nm chips are really for 1H 2023 devices. Ie, 3nm mass market production is expected to start in the Fall of 2022 while iPhone 14 needs it to start in the Spring 2022. So, Apple has to use a 4nm process. Nothing too weird here.

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    tmaywilliamlondondoozydozenmuthuk_vanalingamh4y3slibertyandfreewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,380member
    tht said:
    Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.
    Weird rumors here.

    The iPhone 14 using a 4nm chip imply the 3nm chips are really for 1H 2023 devices. Ie, 3nm mass market production is expected to start in the Fall of 2022 while iPhone 14 needs it to start in the Spring 2022. So, Apple has to use a 4nm process. Nothing too weird here.

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Complete agreement with you.
    williamlondondoozydozenmuthuk_vanalingamdanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    h4y3s
  • Reply 5 of 18
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 838member
    Join the club or you will be left in the dust….Go Intel
  • Reply 6 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,380member
    crowley said:
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    I don't think the was the gist of either of our response. Apple is still first in line, and will likely have reserved as much production as they require, including for their Mac product line. Seems pretty obvious, given how much cash Apple has "dropped" on TSMC over the last decade.

    That Intel will be utilizing TSMC is, "wonderful", whatever cash that Intel has "dropped".
  • Reply 7 of 18
    bleabbleab Posts: 23member
    tht said:
    Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.
    Weird rumors here.

    The iPhone 14 using a 4nm chip imply the 3nm chips are really for 1H 2023 devices. Ie, 3nm mass market production is expected to start in the Fall of 2022 while iPhone 14 needs it to start in the Spring 2022. So, Apple has to use a 4nm process. Nothing too weird here.

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Intel won't use TSMC's 5nm process in 2023 because their own 7nm process will be operational by then and their 7nm process is equivalent to TSMC's 5nm process (similar to how TSMC's 7nm process is similar to Samsung's 5nm).

    It isn't just process size but also transistor density. So in rising order from least dense to most:
    Samsung: least dense. Their 5nm is equivalent to TSMC's 7nm. Which - in addition to yield problems - is why no one uses it unless TSMC doesn't have capacity.
    TSMC: middle density. Their 7nm is equivalent to Samsung's 5nm but Intel's 10nm. They are #1 because of a combination of better density/higher yields than Samsung and smaller process than Intel.
    Intel: most dense. Much more dense than Samsung - their 10nm and Samsung's 5nm are basically equivalent - but also more dense than TSMC. Meaning that when Intel actually reaches 5nm (and smaller) with their transistor density, that will be formidable.

    Also, it has less to do with "Intel paying people off" (why do Apple fans always insist that everyone is corrupt but Apple?) and more to do with the FACT that TSMC won't be able to manufacture very many 3nm chips in 2023. Right now their current capacity is dedicated to 6nm, 5nm and 4nm. Qualcomm, MediaTek, Nvidia, AMD etc. will be using those for years. TSMC will have to build new facilities in Taiwan and New Mexico to accommodate 3nm and 2nm at scale. So, TSMC will only have the ability to fab tens of millions of 3nm SOCs in 2023. That will accommodate the iPad Pro and iPad Air devices that sell a year (the $329 entry level iPad doesn't use the latest SOC and neither does the iPad Mini) and some Xeon/Core i9/Core i7 that Intel will need to hold the line against the progress that AMD is making against them with servers with their Epyc line as well as in workstations and gaming laptops. That "may" be 100 million SOCs between Apple and Intel and could be as low as 50 million. However, about 225-275 million iPhones sell in a typical year and that isn't nearly enough.

    A better question may be why Apple isn't using the 3nm SOCs for Macs. I was certain that I read that 4nm M1X chips with at least 12 CPU cores were coming this year for the 14' and 16' MacBook Pro as well as some Mac Mini and iMac models. If that is the case, 3 years would be quite awhile to be on 4nm. But if Intel "jumped in the line" ahead of anyone that would be AMD. 
    edited July 2021 williamlondondoozydozenmuthuk_vanalingampatchythepirateh4y3swatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    I don't think the was the gist of either of our response. Apple is still first in line, and will likely have reserved as much production as they require, including for their Mac product line. Seems pretty obvious, given how much cash Apple has "dropped" on TSMC over the last decade.

    That Intel will be utilizing TSMC is, "wonderful", whatever cash that Intel has "dropped".
    ?  I'm talking about Intel, not Apple, and I'm wondering why @tht is sceptical that Intel would have paid for priority.  I didn't say Apple isn't first in line, @tht ;did, and I don't know why he's made that assumption given that the article says that the iPad will release with 3nm first.
  • Reply 9 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,380member
    crowley said:
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    I don't think the was the gist of either of our response. Apple is still first in line, and will likely have reserved as much production as they require, including for their Mac product line. Seems pretty obvious, given how much cash Apple has "dropped" on TSMC over the last decade.

    That Intel will be utilizing TSMC is, "wonderful", whatever cash that Intel has "dropped".
    ?  I'm talking about Intel, not Apple, and I'm wondering why @tht is sceptical that Intel would have paid for priority.  I didn't say Apple isn't first in line, @tht did, and I don't know why he's made that assumption given that the article says that the iPad will release with 3nm first.
    So, you seem to think that TSMC is going to fuck over their undisputed best customer, for a few billion dollars, so that Intel gets to the front of the 3nm line?

    Do you even believe that Intel would have attempted that?
    edited July 2021 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    I don't think the was the gist of either of our response. Apple is still first in line, and will likely have reserved as much production as they require, including for their Mac product line. Seems pretty obvious, given how much cash Apple has "dropped" on TSMC over the last decade.

    That Intel will be utilizing TSMC is, "wonderful", whatever cash that Intel has "dropped".
    ?  I'm talking about Intel, not Apple, and I'm wondering why @tht is sceptical that Intel would have paid for priority.  I didn't say Apple isn't first in line, @tht did, and I don't know why he's made that assumption given that the article says that the iPad will release with 3nm first.
    So, you seem to think that TSMC is going to fuck over their undisputed best customer, for a few billion dollars, so that Intel gets to the front of the 3nm line?

    Do you even believe that Intel would have attempted that?
    I don't think that at all and haven't said anything even remotely like that?  Intel paying TSMC to get some priority treatment does not have to be at the expense of Apple unless Apple needed every bit of TSMC's 3nm capacity.  I've seen nothing to suggest that's the case.

    Intel dropping money to get a seat at the 3nm table is perfectly possible.
    Intel dropping money to leapfrog Apple in TSMCs affection is probably also possible, but much less likely, and I'm not suggesting that.  @tht may have been suggesting that, and invoking scepticism, but that's why I was questioning his assumptions.
  • Reply 11 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    I think, on reflection, I've been a bit unclear about what I was trying to say here.  Apologies.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    More interesting will be the M2 CPU and discrete GPU based on 3nm. Those could rock the tech industry.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 13 of 18
    tmaytmay Posts: 6,380member
    crowley said:
    I think, on reflection, I've been a bit unclear about what I was trying to say here.  Apologies.
    So I happened to see James Taylor on youtube, making the rounds for his new album of musicals standards, and he is always asked about being the first artist to be signed by the Beatles' Apple Records. Turns out, there was only one studio in England that had an 8 track tape machine so the Beatles had booked that studio for something on the order of 6 months. Sometimes, the Beatles wouldn't be using it, so Apple Records allowed James Taylor, (or other artists), use of the studio to record songs for his first album.

    That's a decent analogy that I believe better reflects what you are actually thinking, represents the reality of the situation, and doesn't reflect badly on any of the parties. The only issue I even had is that the rumor was so specific to the iPad Pro, rather than for a new M series processor that would be intended in an evolution of the current M1 devices.
    edited July 2021 h4y3sd_2watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    What would Apple do if China invaded Taiwan and shut down TSMC? I am guessing that the top of the list would be: Don't offend China!
    https://www.the-sun.com/news/3203525/ww3-fears-chinese-state-media-three-stage-battle-plan/
    edited July 2021
  • Reply 15 of 18
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,439member
    It is so hard to imagine how they keep shrinking the transistor size to 3 nm when experts said it was impossible just a few years ago. 

    https://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/devices/transistors-could-stop-shrinking-in-2021


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    thttht Posts: 5,510member
    bleab said:
    tht said:
    Nikkei Asia has a good track record for reporting on movements within Apple's supply chain. It very rarely makes predictions on Apple's future plans, but when it does, it generally gets them right.
    Weird rumors here.

    The iPhone 14 using a 4nm chip imply the 3nm chips are really for 1H 2023 devices. Ie, 3nm mass market production is expected to start in the Fall of 2022 while iPhone 14 needs it to start in the Spring 2022. So, Apple has to use a 4nm process. Nothing too weird here.

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Intel won't use TSMC's 5nm process in 2023 because their own 7nm process will be operational by then and their 7nm process is equivalent to TSMC's 5nm process (similar to how TSMC's 7nm process is similar to Samsung's 5nm).

    It isn't just process size but also transistor density. So in rising order from least dense to most:
    Samsung: least dense. Their 5nm is equivalent to TSMC's 7nm. Which - in addition to yield problems - is why no one uses it unless TSMC doesn't have capacity.
    TSMC: middle density. Their 7nm is equivalent to Samsung's 5nm but Intel's 10nm. They are #1 because of a combination of better density/higher yields than Samsung and smaller process than Intel.
    Intel: most dense. Much more dense than Samsung - their 10nm and Samsung's 5nm are basically equivalent - but also more dense than TSMC. Meaning that when Intel actually reaches 5nm (and smaller) with their transistor density, that will be formidable.

    Also, it has less to do with "Intel paying people off" (why do Apple fans always insist that everyone is corrupt but Apple?) and more to do with the FACT that TSMC won't be able to manufacture very many 3nm chips in 2023. Right now their current capacity is dedicated to 6nm, 5nm and 4nm. Qualcomm, MediaTek, Nvidia, AMD etc. will be using those for years. TSMC will have to build new facilities in Taiwan and New Mexico to accommodate 3nm and 2nm at scale. So, TSMC will only have the ability to fab tens of millions of 3nm SOCs in 2023. That will accommodate the iPad Pro and iPad Air devices that sell a year (the $329 entry level iPad doesn't use the latest SOC and neither does the iPad Mini) and some Xeon/Core i9/Core i7 that Intel will need to hold the line against the progress that AMD is making against them with servers with their Epyc line as well as in workstations and gaming laptops. That "may" be 100 million SOCs between Apple and Intel and could be as low as 50 million. However, about 225-275 million iPhones sell in a typical year and that isn't nearly enough.

    A better question may be why Apple isn't using the 3nm SOCs for Macs. I was certain that I read that 4nm M1X chips with at least 12 CPU cores were coming this year for the 14' and 16' MacBook Pro as well as some Mac Mini and iMac models. If that is the case, 3 years would be quite awhile to be on 4nm. But if Intel "jumped in the line" ahead of anyone that would be AMD. 
    My skepticism is in regard to Intel actually spending the money to be one of the first customers for TSMC 3 nm. Seems spendy and risky for them to try, and they have a lot money flowing into getting their fab on running, becoming a merchant foundry, so on and so forth. Secondary to that is the politics of TSMC letting them be one of the first customers; and, Apple, AMD, Nvidia, Qualcomm, etc, letting them jump the line. The only way this happens is if Intel pays a lot of money to be in this position, and for TSMC 3nm, it isn't going to be hundreds of millions. It's billions.

    Apple and TSMC are going to be putting in a lot of work to get TSMC 3nm done for the iPhone launch in 2022. If they are going to be late, the fall back is going to be a half node improvement, the "4nm" or a "5nm+" however it is branded, while 3nm is pushed out for the iPhone launch in 2023.

    The report is also making a leap on when an iPad Pro refresh is going to happen. They are not going to know that yet as Apple often goes 12 to 18 months between iPad cycles. So, that smells like guessing based on rumors that TSMC 3nm mass production starts late Fall 2022 or Winter 2023. Maybe the schedules will line up and will result in an iPad or a Mac being the first one with a 3nm chip, it's happened before, but I think they are guessing about the products here.

    Your question regarding Apple Silicon for Macs versus iPad Pros is something these rumormongers don't know about. With one comes the other, it's just a matter or product update schedules. It works multiple ways. That they were vague about it just means the rumor is about TSMC fab production status, not what chips they are fabbing.
    d_2williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    Everyone outside just guessing the deal between Intel and TSMC. IMO, Intel will continue developing it's own Fab process tech($20B Arizona plant) from 10nm to 7nm to 5nm to 4nm and + or ++ variations to manufacture many of it's own chips. But to make up for the lost ground to AMD and fight back, meanwhile Intel will use 3nm TSMC tech. Going further, Intel will add to own FAB, 2nm(using IBM's breakthrough announcement) in 2025/26.
    Apple will use the same 3nm for Pad Pro and MAC laptop and desktop due to higher performance requirements. Remember, Apple is off Intel chips so Apple have to continue improving chip architecture as well use cutting edge fab process to stay ahead of pack.
    edited July 2021
  • Reply 18 of 18
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,988member
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tmay said:
    crowley said:
    tht said:

    But, since when did Intel jump the line to get 3nm chips from TSMC? That essentially means they wrote a $5b check to TSMC about 2 to 3 months ago to get to the front of the 3nm line. This is where you should be skeptical. I could see Intel using TSMC 5nm processes, but 3nm, ahead of everyone else? Skeptical.
    Why sceptical?  Given how everyone and his dog seems to be saying that Intel are dying (aside: they're not), Intel may well have decided to make a bold move and drop some heavy cash in order to reassert themselves.
    I don't think the was the gist of either of our response. Apple is still first in line, and will likely have reserved as much production as they require, including for their Mac product line. Seems pretty obvious, given how much cash Apple has "dropped" on TSMC over the last decade.

    That Intel will be utilizing TSMC is, "wonderful", whatever cash that Intel has "dropped".
    ?  I'm talking about Intel, not Apple, and I'm wondering why @tht is sceptical that Intel would have paid for priority.  I didn't say Apple isn't first in line, @tht did, and I don't know why he's made that assumption given that the article says that the iPad will release with 3nm first.
    So, you seem to think that TSMC is going to fuck over their undisputed best customer, for a few billion dollars, so that Intel gets to the front of the 3nm line?

    Do you even believe that Intel would have attempted that?

    Intel or Qualcomm given their seedy history would try, but I don’t Apple would sit still for it, after dumping Intel and fighting Qualcomm in the long term modem war which is still in play.
    watto_cobra
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