TSMC may not be able to mass produce 3nm process on time

At present, Apple is gradually shifting the Mac product line from Intel x86 processors to its self-developed chips, recently Apple launched new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models equipped with M1 Pro and M1 Max, further increasing the proportion of self-developed chips in the product line. Compared with the previous Intel x86 processor, it also provides higher performance.

All these achievements of Apple are closely related to the help of TSMC behind the scenes. In the past two or three years, TSMC has provided Apple with the best manufacturing technology and has ensured that Apple, as its largest customer, has sufficient production capacity.

According to the Theinformation report, TSMC is currently using the 5nm process to produce the A15 Bionic used in the iPhone 13 series and is striving to transition to the 3nm process node. Apple also hopes that the A16 Bionic on the iPhone 14 series can be manufactured using this process. More advanced processes can reduce power consumption and provide longer battery life. However, Apple’s plan may have to be changed, and A16 Bionic may not have time to wait for TSMC’s 3nm process for mass production.

This means that the iPhone chip will be stuck on the same process node for the first three consecutive years (even if the N4 process is still used, it still belongs to the N5 process node). This is the first time in history. At the same time, Apple also gave its competitors more time to catch up. For some consumers, perhaps the plan to replace iPhone phones can be postponed for another year.

According to TSMC’s previous statement, this process node called N3 still uses the structure of FinFET transistors, the N3 process node is expected to be mass-produced in the second half of 2022, and an enhanced 3nm process called N3E is planned to be launched. The mass production time is in the second half of 2023.