The cutting-edge 3-nanometer process technology, anticipated to debut in this year’s iPhone 15 Pro and forthcoming MacBook models, is reportedly being used by Apple supplier TSMC to increase chip production capacity.
According to DigiTimes, TSMC’s 5nm fabrication capacity started to deteriorate in November 2022 due to fewer orders from partners like Apple and Samsung, who dropped their orders for iPhone chips by 30%. Yet because of Apple’s need for 3nm, the Taiwanese manufacturer has been able to maintain its utilization rate at 70% or higher:
According to the sources, TSMC is working to increase the capacity utilization for 3nm process technology, which is anticipated to reach close to 50% by the end of March. In March, the foundry will increase process output to 50,000–55,00 wafers per month, with Apple as the primary client.
The A17 Bionic CPU, Apple’s first iPhone microprocessor based on TSMC’s first-generation 3nm technology, also known as N3E, is anticipated to be included in the next iPhone 15 Pro versions.
Compared to TSMC’s 5nm-based N4 fabrication process, which was utilized to create the A16 Bionic processor for the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, the first-generation 3nm technology offers a 35% increase in power efficiency. Comparing N3 technology-based semiconductors to those now made on 5nm, performance will also greatly improve.
Apple’s upcoming 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Air models are anticipated to come with an M3 processor, which is also anticipated to be produced using the 3nm technology to enhance performance and efficiency further. According to reports, Apple also intends to offer a new 13-inch MacBook Pro model with an M3 processor. The second-generation 5nm process used by TSMC is used to create the M2 chip and its more expensive Pro and Max versions.
According to sources cited by DigiTimes, orders for new AI processors from AMD, Nvidia, and Apple’s new iPhone chip are anticipated to aid TSMC in preventing further drops in fab utilization in the second quarter.