Apple to use TSMC’s next 3-nm chip tech in iPhones and Macs next year

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Apple aims to be the first company to use an updated version of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s latest chipmaking technology next year, with plans to adopt it for some of its iPhones and Mac computers, sources briefed on the matter told Nikkei Asia.

The A17 mobile processor currently under development will be mass-produced using TSMC’s N3E chipmaking tech, expected to be available in the second half of next year, according to three people familiar with the matter. The A17 will be used in the premium entry in the iPhone line-up scheduled for release in 2023, they said.

N3E is an upgraded version of TSMC’s current 3-nanometer production tech, which is only starting to go into use this year. The next generation of Apple’s M3 chip for its Mac offerings is also set to use the upgraded 3-nm tech, two sources added.

Nanometre size refers to the distance between transistors on a chip. The smaller the number, the more transistors can be squeezed on to a chip, making them more powerful but also more challenging and costly to produce.

N3E will offer better performance and energy efficiency than the first version of the tech, TSMC said in a recent technology symposium in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Industry sources said the upgraded production tech is also designed to be more cost-effective than its predecessor.

This article is from Nikkei Asia, a global publication with a uniquely Asian perspective on politics, the economy, business and international affairs. Our own correspondents and outside commentators from around the world share their views on Asia, while our Asia300 section provides in-depth coverage of 300 of the biggest and fastest-growing listed companies from 11 economies outside Japan.

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As TSMC’s largest customer and the biggest driver for new semiconductor technologies, Apple is still its most loyal partner when it comes to adopting the latest chip technology. The US tech giant will be the first to use TSMC’s first generation of 3-nm technology, using it for some of its upcoming iPads, Nikkei Asia reported earlier.

Previously, Intel told TSMC that it would like to secure 3-nm production by this year or early next year to be among the…

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