Apple seems to have its eyes on the road (map) for iPhone processors
TSMC is now Apple’s primary processor manufacturing partner, churning out 7-nanometer A13 chips for iPhones – and may be producing 3-nanometer chips for iPhones by 2023.
What’s in a nanometer?
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. It’s the unit of measurement used to show the distance between the transistors that comprise the processor.
The smaller the number of nanometers the higher the number of transistors you can squeeze onto one chip.
Faster processors that are also more energy efficient.
Apple’s chip designs have led the industry for years. It has been developing ARM-based processors since 2007, ramped this up with the A4 and again with its A6 chips and pushed it even further in 2016 with the A10 chip.
The company has achieved significant performance and power efficiency improvements with each iteration of these:
- The A10 Fusion processor in 2016 inside the iPhone 7 was the first Apple-designed SOC. It delivered 40% better processor performance and 50% better graphics than the Apple-designed 64-bit A9 chip (used in the iPhone 6S) it replaced.
- Apple achieved a 25 percent performance boost when it shifted from the 14-nometer A10 (2016, as used in the iPhone 7) to the 7-nanometer A11.
- Apple’s A12 processors provided significant performance gains on the A11 series chips in part because they were the first to adopt 7-nanometer process technologies.
- Apple’s existing (7nm) A13 series processors maintain the trend. These deliver 20% more performance and 40% better power efficiency than 2018’s A12.
- You can review performance increase between A6-A11 here.
It is thought that Apple will migrate to 5-nanometer processors in 2020 following comments from TSMC CFO Lora Ho, who revealed his company to have become “more aggressive” on the move to manufacture these chips.
This means that next year’s A14 processors may be built using 5-nanometer tech, which should deliver similar performance and power efficiency gains.
This should be useful as Apple attempts to handle the new power requirements of 5G…