Apple is already in a knot with the supplier TSMC regarding its second-generation 3nm chip fabrication process known as N3E. Expected to be used in making all four in the iPhone 16 line-up, Apple is all set to incorporate the TSMC chip further.
N3B debuted earlier in the smartphone market with the A17 Pro chip that powers Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro models.TSMC’s coming 3nm node upgrade to N3E is comparatively less expensive yet has improved yield compared to the Taiwanese foundry’s first-generation 3nm process.
Though the N3E process focuses on enhancing power consumption and chip performance, DigiTimes reported that the foundry house has already moved N3E to volume production and plans to have the upgraded version replaced by N3 by 2024.
Removing Samsung from the list, all other major chip vendors will embrace N3E, for which TSMC has already obtained the order commitments from their fellow customers, the largest being Apple. TSMC is foreseen to encounter 4-6% of overall sales in 2023 from 3nm manufacturing.
Apple, single-handedly, is expected to bestow as much as $3.4 billion in sales for the foundry this year. The label has also signed several orders for N3B chips for their iPhone 15 devices.
Apple was already receiving all of TSMC’s first-generation 3-nanometer process chips this year, as in the first half of the year itself, Apple had booked almost 90% of the foundry’s 3nm production for its devices. But now, the label is envisaged to consume up to 100% of TSMC’s capacity in 2023, the delays in Intel’s wafer needs owing to later modifications to the company’s CPU platform design plans being the reason.
Speculations also suggest that TSMC plans to shift N3P to volume production in the second half of the coming year, 2024. All four models in the iPhone 16 series are to be equipped with A18-branded chips based on TSMC’s N3E node, stated Jeff Pu, an often-accurate analyst who covers companies within Apple’s supply chain.
To be noted: The iPhone 16 lineup is almost a year apart from launching; Pu is predictably making an educated guess about the marketing names, so it remains to be seen if Apple moves forward with A18 and A18 Pro branding.