Apple could be the first to use TSMC's 3nm chip process for M2 Pro

Posted:
in macOS
Apple's 2022 MacBook Pros may pack new M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets made with TSMC's latest 3nm manufacturing process, according to a new report.

M2
M2


TSMC, the world's largest semiconductor contract manufacturer, has been steadily building out its 3nm production processes. According to the Commercial Times, Apple could be the first customer to get its hands on those chips.

The report notes that Apple will use 3nm wafers for the first time in the second half of 2022, likely for its M2 Pro chipsets. Future releases built on the 3nm process could include the iPhone-specific A17 chipset, as well as a future third-generation of the M series.

Commercial Times also separately reported that TSMC will begin mass production of its 3nm wafers in September. The report adds that initial yield will be higher than when TSMC switched to 5nm processes.

Compared to previous chipmaking processes, semiconductors made using the 3nm process could bring increased power efficiency and performance to Apple's devices.

Prior reports indicate that Apple will use the M2 Pro chip -- and possibly an M2 Max -- in its 14-inch MacBook Pro, 16-inch MacBook Pro, and Mac mini models later in 2022 or early 2023.


Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 2,834member
    Because sales volume for the Mac is so much lower than the iPhone, it’s much easier to transition the Mac to a new process. This is win-win-win for TSMC-Apple-Mac users.
    doozydozenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    3nm  is not a wafer. It is a process. TSMC is able to ramp up its process technology to firmly keep Apple in its camp as well as numerous other chip design companies. 
    Anilu_777watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 9
    thttht Posts: 4,630member
    Hopefully it is true. If they are starting mass production of the 3nm wafers, it's not going to be in a product for another 3 to 4 months at the earliest. 

    So, Apple would be lucky to have M2 Pro and M2 Max packages available in Macbook Pro updates by late December. Like Dec 20 availability, just a trickle of laptops before the holidays.

    Still a mystery why they didn't put an M1 Pro in the Mac mini and iMac 24 last March or so. Would have given those products a solid year of sales before being updated to a M2 Pro.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,397member
    Out of curiosity I  checked the Motorola 68000 processor that was in my first Mac. It used a 3.5micrometer (3500nm) process. We’ve literally lived through a thousandfold reduction in size. It also had 68,000 transistors. A far cry from the 20billion on the M2 and who knows how many on these 3nm versions. 
    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 9
    nubusnubus Posts: 118member
    This is a major leap forward but I doubt Apple is jumping to M2 3 nm. The 3 nm MacBook Pro won’t see any deliveries in 2022 and Apple must get back to launch product that can ship. 3 nm that won’t ship will kill end of year sales. If Apple does a 5 nm M2 Pro+Max then it will be short lived, and the benefits compared to M1 are likely minimal due to being 5 nm. This could indicate that MBP will skip M2 for a proper M3 3 nm update in Q1 2023.
    fastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 9
    tbornottbornot Posts: 109member
    The why of the delay is easy, the work of Apple engineers at Blender was late.  The new M2 3nm will have hardware Ray tracing developed along with Blender. Games. Games are coming!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9

    The laws of Physics state that the microprocessor cannot get lower than (4) nano meters - Did I mention the earth is flat?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    tobiantobian Posts: 135member
    Paul_B said:

    The laws of Physics state that the microprocessor cannot get lower than (4) nano meters - Did I mention the earth is flat?
    there’s nothing like 4nm limit cited on asml web. they eventually presenting their new EV technology, allowing 1nm nodes.
    but if you mean a whole microprocessor, which measures in inches these days, then we have some time :smiley: 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 9
    jony0jony0 Posts: 368member
    Apple's 2022 MacBook Pros may pack new M2 Pro and M2 Max chipsets made with TSMC's latest 3nm manufacturing process, according to a new report.

    TSMC, the world's largest semiconductor contract manufacturer, has been steadily building out its 3nm production processes. According to the Commercial Times, Apple could be the first customer to get its hands on those chips.

    The report notes that Apple will use 3nm wafers for the first time in the second half of 2022, likely for its M2 Pro chipsets. Future releases built on the 3nm process could include the iPhone-specific A17 chipset, as well as a future third-generation of the M series.

    Commercial Times also separately reported that TSMC will begin mass production of its 3nm wafers in September. The report adds that initial yield will be higher than when TSMC switched to 5nm processes.

    Compared to previous chipmaking processes, semiconductors made using the 3nm process could bring increased power efficiency and performance to Apple's devices.

    2 mentions of process, then wafer, back to process, then wafer and back to process = 4 mentions of process including title versus 2 wafers.
    3nm  is not a wafer. It is a process. TSMC is able to ramp up its process technology to firmly keep Apple in its camp as well as numerous other chip design companies. 
    Technically, of course the expression "3nm" is indeed a process. In any event "3nm" is unfortunately just a marketing expression anyway.

    I can only assume that AI being well aware that it is a [manufacturing, production] process applied to [chipsets, releases, semiconductors].
    I can only assume that AI assumed they could safely use the single word wafer shorthand rather than more multi-worded expressions, assuming that most readers here would not confuse the issue. So … no biggie.

    There is no industry-wide agreement about defining a 3 nm node either (emphasis mine) :
    The term "3 nanometer" has no relation to any actual physical feature (such as gate length, metal pitch or gate pitch) of the transistors. According to the projections contained in the 2021 update of the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems published by IEEE Standards Association Industry Connection, a 3 nm node is expected to have a contacted gate pitch of 48 nanometers and a tightest metal pitch of 24 nanometers. However, in real world commercial practice, "3 nm" is used primarily as a marketing term by individual microchip manufacturers to refer to a new, improved generation of silicon semiconductor chips in terms of increased transistor density (i.e. a higher degree of miniaturization), increased speed and reduced power consumption.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3_nm_process

    It's just a number they use relative to their previous process to indicate some reduction in node geometry of different transistor technologies.
    Full disclosure I didn't know that either before looking it up now and am a bit disappointed, I thought it actually meant an actual size.
    edited August 19 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
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