Apple took a lead in the smartphone industry with the A14 Bionic processor this year, which happens to the first smartphone chip based on the 5nm chip. As expected, the A14 Bionic set new performance benchmarks for a smartphone chip. Now, it appears that Apple will likely maintain its lead in the smartphone industry by opting the even more efficient 5nm+ process next year, and might shift to TSMC’s 4nm process in 2022.
The latest speculations come courtesy of a TrendForce report which claims that Apple will tap into TSMC’s advanced 5nm+ foundry for making the A15 Bionic chip that will make its way to next year’s iPhone and iPad line-up. More importantly, the pace of innovation will continue in the following year, as TSMC is expected to further shrink the node size to 4nm, with Apple being among the first parties to lap it up for its A16 Bionic chip.
As a general rule of thumb, a smaller process means higher efficiency and better performance when it comes to processors. “Looking ahead to 2021, in addition to Apple’s 5nm+ wafer input for the A15 Bionic SoC,” the report said regarding Apple’s switch to the 5nm+ process next year. “based on current data, Apple is highly likely to continue manufacturing its A16 SoCs with the 4nm process technology,” it added. In addition to the company leveraging TSNM’s smaller nodes, trial production for a test batch of AMD’s upcoming 5nm-based Zen 4 CPUs might also begin next year.
However, it also quite likely that Apple will rely on TSMC’s 5nm+ and 4nm process for manufacturing newer in-house silicon for future Macs, after creating the 5nm-based Apple M1 chip that has already made its way to the new Macbook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini. It will interesting to see how much performance gain can Apple deliver chrome its in-house PC chips following the switch to ever smaller and more energy-efficient nodes.