A few months ago, Apple launched the new flagship iPhone 12 series powered by A14 Bionic chip build on 5nm process. Although small in size, the A14 chip is faster with amazing performance and power consumption because of the new 5nm technology. Predicting the future of processors, TrendForce believes that Apple and TSMC will manufacture future A16 chips on 4nm technology.
TSMC, a Tawainese semiconductor manufacturer, is Apple’s major supplier which manufactured the A14 Bionic chip of iPhone 12 and M1 Apple Silicon for Mac on 5nm process. At the manufacturer’s internal conference, TSMC explained that the new 5nm process consumes 30% less power and delivers 15% better performance than the older 7nm process used in iPhone 11 models. Therefore, iPhone 12 models have a much better performance and battery consumption than the iPhone 11 models. Based on that information, it can be assumed that 4nm will be much much faster than the already fast 5nm.
Apple will use A16 chip on 4nm in 2022 iPhone
Analyzing the current global smartphone market and YoY increase in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, TrendForce states the TSMC and Samsung are “fully loaded” with orders and expects that the demand for 5nm chips will continue until quarter 1, 2021.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s negative impact on the global economy, several emergent trends, such as WFH, distance education, rising 5G smartphone penetration, and strong component demand from telecom infrastructure build-out, have resulted in a bullish semiconductor market against economic headwinds, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Global foundry revenue is projected to undergo a 23.8% increase YoY in 2020, the highest percentage in 10 years.
However, currently with Apple as the only client, the demand for TSMC 5nm chips will drop in Q2 2021 by 85%-90%. Therefore, TSMC will make up for that capacity loss by producing A15 chips on 5nm and AMD 5nm Zen 4 CPUs beyond 2021. And by the end of 2021 and early 2022, when other companies’ will be mass-producing 5nm, TSMC will expand its 5nm capacity and will most likely be producing A16 chips on 4nm for Apple.
Furthermore, based on current data, Apple is highly likely to continue manufacturing its A16 SoCs with the 4nm process technology (a process shrink of the 5nm node). This may lead TSMC to further expand its 5nm capacity at that time to fulfill high demand from clients.
If the report holds to be true, then consumers are in for a treat with much faster iPhones than the new iPhone 12 models.
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