Apple’s upcoming A16 chipset may stick to TSMC’s 5nm process

TLDR: The A16 SoC that will be used on the iPhone 14 probably won’t bring significant performance and efficiency gains if it uses the same process as the A15 Bionic. Apple will reportedly rely on architecture improvements and the switch to LPDDR5 memory and will only use the new chip in its iPhone Pro series.

In a series of tweets today, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicated that Apple’s upcoming A16 chipset may continue to use TSMC’s N5P technology node, just like its A15 predecessor. The decision was reportedly made because the Taiwanese foundry would not be able to produce enough chips at the new N3 node this year to meet demand. Meanwhile, N4P, another improved version of the N5 process, will only start mass production next year.

This leaves Apple with a choice between the N4 and N5P, with the latter being the higher performing (and probably more expensive) node. It is unlikely that the company will move to Samsung’s 3nm GAAFET process, as the last A-series chip not exclusively manufactured by TSMC was the A9, launched in 2015.

As a reminder, Apple is expected to only equip the more expensive iPhone 14 Pro models with the new chip, while vanilla phones will ship with the A15.

Kuo also confirmed that the upcoming MacBook Air update could continue to use the M1 chip instead of launching with the new M2. Rumor has it that the laptop has an all-new design, which Apple says is far more beneficial than new internals (and we tend to agree that the M1 is pretty good in terms of efficiency).

The Cupertino company will decide to introduce SoC M2 next year in an update to the MacBook Pro line. This will also allow them to take advantage of the more advanced N4P or N3 knot.

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