Apple is reportedly going to be the only major tech company in 2023 to use the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC), enhanced 3nm semiconductor process. As of right now, TSMC’s competing chipmakers Qualcomm and MediaTek have not decided if they are willing to invest in the new technology.
TSMC’s 3nm semiconductor technology will likely only be found in Apple devices this year
A new report from DigiTimes reveals that Qualcomm and MediaTek, who provided Android device makers with chips, are unsure if they are going to pay over $20,000 per wafer for 3nm production due to “unclear sales prospects for Android handsets.” However, neither chipmakers want to fall behind Apple’s 3nm A17 Bionic chip.
Qualcomm and MediaTek, however, have not yet made a clear decision on whether to join the 3nm camp this year, despite both hoping to keep up with Apple’s process upgrade for their flagship mobile SoCs, the sources continued.
The sources stressed that uncertain market outlook for non-Apple handsets and 3nm manufacturing cost already exceeding US$20,000 per wafer are likely to deter both handset AP specialists from launching 3nm SoCs later in the year.
As of right now, neither company has come to a decision if they want to upgrade to 3nm chip technology. However, Qualcomm may be forced to do so if Samsung wants to compete with Apple in the high-end smartphone market. As for right now, Samsung’s Galaxy S23 is expected to be powered by a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, which is produced by Samsung Foundry using its 4nm process. Samsung could choose to upgrade its chip tech from 2024 onward.
Apple is expected to start using TSMC’s new semiconductor technology in its devices this year. The technology will likely be implemented in the A17 Bionic chip for the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra. For the current flagship iPhone lineup, Apple re-used TSMC’s 5nm process for the A15 chip in iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus, and the 4nm process for the A16 chip in iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
As for Macs, a recent report claimed that Apple’s M2 Pro and M3 chips will be based on TSMC’s 3nm process. This means that the updated MacBook Pro and Mac mini models will make sure of the enhanced technology.