Apple will be the first company to receive chips built on the TSMC’s future 2-nanometer process, DigiTimes said today. According to sources that spoke to the site, Apple is “widely believed to be the initial client to utilize the process.”
TSMC is expected to begin producing 2nm chips starting in the second half of 2025. Terms like “3nm” and “2nm” refer to the specific architecture and design rules TSMC is using for a family of chips. Decreases in node size correspond to a smaller transistor size, so more transistors can fit on a processor, leading to boosts in speed and more efficient power consumption.
This year, Apple adopted 3-nanometer chips for its iPhones and Macs. Both the A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro models and the M3 series chips in Macs are built on the 3-nanometer node, an upgrade over the prior 5nm node. The jump from 5nm technology to 3nm technology brought notable 20 percent faster GPU speeds, 10 percent faster CPU speed, and a 2x faster Neural Engine to the iPhone, and similar improvements on Macs.
TSMC is building two new facilities to accommodate 2nm chip production, and working on approval for a third. TSMC generally builds new fabs when it needs to increase production capacity to handle significant orders for chips, and TSMC is expanding in a major way for 2nm technology. The transition to 2nm will see TSMC adopting GAAFET (gate-all-around field-effect transistors) with nanosheets instead of FinFET, so the manufacturing process will be more complex. GAAFETs allow for faster speeds with a smaller transistor size and lower operational voltage.
TSMC is spending billions on the change, and Apple will also need to make chip design changes to accommodate the new technology. Apple is TSMC’s main client, and it is typically the first to get TSMC’s new chips. Apple acquired all of TSMC’s 3-nanometer chips in 2023 for iPhones, iPads, and Macs, for example.
In between the 3nm and 2nm nodes, TSMC will introduce several new 3nm improvements. TSMC has already come out with N3E and N3P chips that are enhanced 3nm processes, and there are other chips in the works such as N3X for high performance computing and N3AE for automotive applications.
Rumors suggest that TSMC is already starting work on more advanced 1.4-nanometer chips, which are expected to come out as soon as 2027. Apple is said to be looking to reserve TSMC’s initial manufacturing capabilities for both 1.4nm and 1nm technologies.