Apple’s iPhone 16 is expected to feature the next generation A-series chip, and now a new report says that the manufacturing process behind that chip is getting a big focus on boosting performance ahead of next year.
TSMC, the manufacturer of Apple’s A-series chips and Apple silicon, helped the company create the awesome new A17 Pro in the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. It’s the first made on the company’s new 3nm process, which packs in more transistors and overall power into the same space.
The A17 Pro wasn’t a massive performance upgrade on the A16 series but does feature notable additions like an extra GPU core and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. Since the iPhone 15 launch two separate rumors have indicated that next year’s chip will be made using a more cost-effective N3E process, rather than N3B.
The chips are up
In a new report Friday, Digitimes states that “all major chip vendors will embrace TSMC’s N3E process” except for Samsung, again indicating Apple is moving to N3E. According to the report, this N3E will focus on “enhancing chip performance, power consumption and production yield rates.” That means more chips for Apple to use, and for us, it means faster iPhones with better battery life. Digitimes reports that TSMC is already moving to N3E volume production and that the upgraded version will kick in next year.
This is great news given the N3E switch initially came with some warnings about a trade-off in efficiency and performance, and could also signal a nice upgrade for Apple’s Mac line, too. TSMC doesn’t specify which products these new N3E chips might show up in, so it’s possible that Mac users might see the benefit in a new M3 MacBook, now expected in 2024.
Beyond that, TSMC has an N3P process that will offer boosts over N3E of 5-10% and an N3X process that will offer even more performance, but that’s a way off and isn’t expected until 2025.
With the advent of the A17 “Pro” chip in this year’s iPhone 15, it seems likely to me that Apple might introduce a Pro-less moniker for its A-series chips that feature in its regular iPhones next year, helping to further separate them from its best iPhones. A17 Pro might also pop up in other products, although possibly with a different name, between now and then.