Apple is reportedly tightly allied with TSMC in the competition to create and apply 2nm chip technology. This technology is expected to outperform their present 3nm devices and related nodes regarding transistor density, performance, and efficiency; the international Taiwanese semiconductor contract manufacturing and design business is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing business or TSMC. The majority shareholder is Taiwan’s central government.

Future Apple silicon chips, next-generation data centers, and artificial intelligence technologies are anticipated to depend heavily on 2nm chips. As plans for the next chips start to take shape, Apple and several other important TSMC clients have already seen test results for the company’s “N2” 2nm prototype circuits. The node size allows a smaller transistor size, and more transistors can fit on a processor. All of this effort boosts speed, and users gain efficient power consumption.

Apple began using 3-nanometer CPUs in its Macs and iPhones this year.

Built on the 3-nanometer node, which is an improvement over the previous 5nm node, are both the A17 Pro chip used in the iPhone 15 Pro versions and the M3 series chips found in Macs. The iPhone saw considerable improvements from the switch from 5nm to 3nm technology, including 20% higher GPU speeds, 10% faster CPU speeds, and a 2x faster Neural Engine. Macs also saw similar increases.

To support the production of 2nm chips, TSMC is constructing two additional facilities and is awaiting approval for a third. When TSMC needs to boost production capacity to accommodate large orders for chips, it often constructs additional fabs. Additionally, TSMC is significantly growing in the 2nm technology space. As TSMC moves to 2nm (we were at 10nm in 2017), it will replace FinFET with GAAFET (gate-all-around field-effect transistors) using nanosheets, resulting in a more complicated production process. With smaller transistor sizes and a lower operating voltage, GAAFETs provide quicker speeds.

TSMC is spending billions on the change, and Apple will also need to make chip design changes to accommodate the new technology.

Apple TSMC 2nm chip supply
Apple

“Apple is TSMC’s main client and 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,” as reported by DigiTimes.

TSMC will introduce several new 3nm enhancements in between the 2nm and 3nm nodes — likely as early as 2027. They are rumored to be working g on a more advanced 1.4-nanometer chip. Other devices, like N3X for high-performance computing and N3AE for automotive applications, are in the works at TSMC. The company has already released the improved 3nm N3E and N3P processors.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jeremy Waterhouse; Pexels

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is an editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind, Editor in Chief for Calendar, editor at Entrepreneur media, and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.