With the arrival of the new iPhone 14 Pro, Apple released its first 4-nanometer chip, the A16 Bionic. Those from Cupertino, however, are already thinking about the next photolithographic leap. According to Nikkei Asiathe company wants to be the first to benefit from an improved version of the TSMC’s latest semiconductor manufacturing technology on some of their computers and smartphones.
We are talking about N3E, the process that would be used to manufacture the future A17 Bionic chips (which technically should have already begun to develop) for the latest iPhones. premium of 2023. But not only that, it would also give life to the M3, the company’s next generation of chips for laptops and desktops that would also arrive next year.
Thinking of N3E when N3 hasn’t started arriving yet
We just said that the iPhone 14s are the first Apple devices to adopt 4-nanometer chips and we’re already talking about 3-nanometer enhanced (N3E) chips. What happened? Matters of the dynamics of TSMC and Apple. The production of chips with the first generation 3-nanometer node (N3) has already started, but deliveries will start in early 2023.
According to AnandTech, the Taiwanese semiconductor giant planned to start chip production with the N3E node a year after N3, but in presenting financial results for the first quarter of this year, TSMC CEO CC Wei said they were considering moving up your schedule. “Our N3E result is pretty good,” he said.
TSMC’s N3 technology promises to offer a 15% improvement in performance and 30% improvement in power consumption compared to N5. For it, as explained by TSMC, more than 14 ultraviolet lithography layers will be used and new design rules for DUV layers will be implemented. The first products to adopt chips made with this process would be some Apple iPads.
Regarding N3E, the second generation of the 3-nanometer photolithographic process will have improved performance and energy efficiency compared to the first generation. However, no further details have been revealed. We only know that you will use the well-known FinFET transistor technology and that, as we mentioned above, they would reach some iPhone and Mac from 2023.
Although the size of nanometers has a lot of marketing, manufacturers are in a race to implement increasingly challenging production technologies. Samsung, another industry giant, makes 3-nanometer chips but expects to start large-scale production this year. To all this, TSMC has already started the development of 2 nanometer chips.
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