Apple to be the First to Receive TSMC’s Future 2nm Chips
Apple is set to become the first company to receive chips manufactured on TSMC’s future 2-nanometer technology. According to sources familiar with the matter, “it is widely believed that Apple is the first customer to use this process.”
TSMC is expected to commence production of 2nm chips in the second half of 2025. The terms “3nm” and “2nm” refer to specific architectures and design rules that TSMC employs for a range of chips. The reduction in node size corresponds to smaller transistor sizes, allowing for more transistors to be packed on a processor, thus enhancing speed and efficiency.
This year, Apple adopted 3-nanometer chips in iPhone and Mac devices. The A17 Pro chip in the iPhone 15 Pro model and the M3 series chip in Mac are both built on the 3nm node, marking an upgrade from the previous 5nm node. The leap from 5nm to 3nm technology resulted in a significant 20% increase in GPU speed, 10% increase in CPU speed, and a doubling of neural engine speed for the iPhone. Similar improvements have been made on the Mac as well.
TSMC is constructing two new factories to accommodate 2nm chip production and is in the process of obtaining approval for a third factory. TSMC typically builds new fabs when there is a need to increase capacity to handle large chip orders, and it is heavily expanding its 2nm technology. During the transition to 2nm, TSMC will utilize GAAFET (Gate-All-Around Field-Effect Transistor) with nanosheets instead of FinFET, making the manufacturing process more complex. GAAFET enables faster speeds through smaller transistor sizes and lower operating voltages.
TSMC has invested billions of dollars in this transition, and Apple also needs to adjust its chip designs to adapt to the new technology. Apple is a key customer of TSMC and is usually the first company to receive TSMC’s new chips. For example, in 2023, Apple acquired all 3nm chips from TSMC for use in iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
Between the 3nm and 2nm nodes, TSMC will introduce several new 3nm enhancements. TSMC has already rolled out the N3E and N3P chips based on an enhanced 3nm process, and other chips are in development, such as the N3X for high-performance computing and the N3AE for automotive applications.
Rumors suggest that TSMC has begun developing even more advanced 1.4-nanometer chips, expected to debut as early as 2027. Apple reportedly aims to retain TSMC’s initial manufacturing capabilities in 1.4nm and 1nm technologies.