TSMC’s first generation of 3nm still uses the mature FinFET transistor structure that has been in existence for 20 years. Initial reports claim that this process will commence mass production in the third quarter of next year. It needs to arrive in time to catch up with the iPhone 14 series in the fall. However, the latest report has some surprises. The reports claim that the mass production time of TSMC 3nm process will start in the fourth quarter of next year. The first batch of its production capacity will be equally divided by Apple and Intel.
Obviously, the fourth quarter is definitely too late for the iPhone 14 sticking demand. This means that the A16 Bionic processor will not use TSMC 3nm process. The next-gen flagship processor will still use TSMC’s 4nm manufacturing process.
As for TSMC 3nm manufacturing process, it will be used for Apple’s M3 for Mac. On Intel’s side, it is not easy to speculate. The 13th-generation Core Raptor Lake will use Intel 7 (10nm), and the 14th-generation Core Meteor Lake does not seem to be so fast.
Earlier reports show that the 4nm A16 Bionic comes with the codename Crete. The large core upgrades to Avalanche and the small core upgrades to Blizzard. The chip is about 20% higher than the A15 in performance.
Apple A16 Bionic speculation
According to earlier reports, the A16 Bionic processor will use TSMC’s N4P process technology. This technology is actually an upgrade of the regular 5nm process. However, it is still below the 4nm process. TSMC previously planned to put 3nm process technology into mass production in the second half of 2022. However, TSMC has encountered a bottleneck in the 3nm process technology project and may not be able to put it into mass production on time.
This may mean that next year’s Apple iPhone 14 series upgrade focus will not be on its performance. The company will have to improve other parameters like the camera and other hardware. Thus, we should not expect much from the iPhone 14 series in terms of performance. Considering that Apple may use a punch-hole design on the iPhone 14, this will be a major talking point. Recall that Apple has been using the notch design since the iPhone X which arrived in 2017. The company did not change the notch design for four years, before the launch of the iPhone 13 series. Even the iPhone 13 series still come with a notch, only that it is now smaller.