Over the past few years, there has been a consistent improvement of smartphone chip performance and most recently, we had the 7nm process chip whose performance is near perfect. However, manufacturers are already a step ahead and the 5nm process chip is already on its way. Recent reports from Taiwan media shows that TSMC‘s 5nm process is expected to enter mass production next year and this implies that the A14 processor to be used by the iPhone in 2020 will adopt a more advanced manufacturing process.
The chip manufacturing process is not directly related to performance, but the small gap between transistors usually means higher power efficiency and it can accommodate more transistors in the same surface area to improve performance. Since 2016, TSMC has been the exclusive supplier of Apple’s “A Series” processors, providing A10 processors for the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, and A11 processors for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, last year. This year, the A13 processor used in the new iPhone will continue to be exclusively supplied by TSMC.
TSMC uses the 16-nanometer manufacturing process for the foundry A10 processor, the 10nm technology for the foundry A11 processor, and the 7-nanometer process for the A12 processor. The A13 processor is expected to use 7 nanometers this year.