We already know a lot about the iPhone 14: an all-new design, supersized budget model and controversial punch hole. But new information has revealed a surprise twist for what is arguably Apple’s most ambitious upgrade.
In a pair of leaks, respected tech site The Information and supply chain experts DigiTimes both report that Apple has had to scrap plans to use three nanometer (3nm) fabrication, a radical new chip manufacturing technology that would have powered the A16 chip inside the iPhone 14. Apple’s primary chip supplier, TSMC, is cited as the source of the problems, for what would have been a potentially game-changing upgrade.
“The upshot of TSMC’s struggles is that the iPhone’s processor will be stuck on the same chip manufacturing process for three consecutive years, including next year, for the first time in its history,” states The Information. “That could in turn cause some customers to put off upgrading their devices for another year and give Apple’s competitors a bit more time to catch up.
Digitimes agrees, explaining that Apple will use “N4P” — an enhanced version of the existing 5nm fabrication process used since the iPhone 12 — for all its major 2022 mobile devices.
Why is 3nm such a big deal?
Aside from the fact Apple would be the world’s first company to bring 3nm-based devices into mass production, the number one reason is efficiency. The jump from 5nm to 3nm represents a ‘die shrink’ and when this happens, more chips can be fitted into the same physical space as its predecessor, therefore increasing performance.
Die shrinks also reduce the current used by each transistor, which lowers power consumption and increases battery life. Price falls as well because the cost of producing a silicon wafer is based on the number of fabrication steps required not the number of chips on it, and you can fit more chips onto each wafer jumping from 5nm to 3nm. In short: everything — performance, efficiency, price —…