A new report claims that Apple and Intel will be the first to use TMSC’s upcoming 3-nanometer chipset production technology next year.
Citing multiple sources, Nikkei Asia reports that both firms are already testing their chip designs against TMSC’s 3-nm manufacturing process technology, and that both expect to begin producing chips in the second half of 2022.
As the publication notes, the most advanced chipset manufacturing process today, which is from TMSC, can produce 5-nm chips. This process is used to create the Apple A-series chips in the iPhone 12 family. But most chipset processes result in larger chipsets—or, more accurately, chipsets with more space between their transistors. In the PC space, 10-nm and even 14-nm are still very common.
The advantages of moving to smaller manufacturing processes are clear: The smaller the size between transistors, the more energy-efficient and powerful the resulting chipsets. TMSC says that its 3-nm processor technology will result in chips that are 25 to 30 percent more efficient and offer 10 to 15 percent more performance.
Apple intends to use the 3-nm chipsets in its iPad Pro product line first, while Intel is aiming at a bigger market: Notebook PCs and other portable computers. “Currently the chip volume planned for Intel is more than that for Apple’s iPad using the 3-nanometer process,” one Nikkei Asia source told the publication.
And the stakes are arguably higher for Intel, which has lost market share to AMD while struggling to improve its own manufacturing processes. Intel once controlled over 80 percent of the PC chipset market, but its share has fallen to just north of 70 percent. AMD, meanwhile, has surged to 20 percent market share, from 11 percent in 2019.
And from a technical perspective, Intel, which has historically built its own chips, still hasn’t made the transition to 7-nm designs internally, and it isn’t expected to do so until 2023. It plans to improve its own processes while it takes advantage of third-party fabricators like TMSC in the meantime.
Tagged with Intel