Photo: Caitlin McGarry/Gizmodo
The building blocks for Apple’s rumored M3 chip are reportedly underway.
Apple’s Taiwan-based chipmaker TSMC has reportedly begun pilot production on its 3-nanometer process, known as the N3 line. The plant hopes to move to full production by the end of 2022 and start shipments to Apple and Intel by early 2023, according to DigiTimes, citing unnamed sources (via MacRumors).
Apple’s M1 and M1 Pro/Max chips in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are based on a 5nm process. Dropping down to 3nm, a more advanced technology, should result in faster performance and improved efficiency. But first, Apple is expected to debut a 4nm (N4) M2 chip sometime next year with the launch of the MacBook Air.
Apple rarely sheds light on upcoming projects, and it hasn’t said anything about its plans for future silicon. However, a recent report by The Information alleged Apple will use an advanced version of the 5nm node for its second-gen chips with two dies rather than just the one found in the M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max.
But the 3nm third-gen chips are what grabbed all the headlines. These will apparently represent a “much bigger leap” by using four dies and containing up to 40 CPU cores. To put that into perspective, the M1 Pro and M1 Max have “only” 10 CPU cores in an eight-performance, two-efficiency configuration.
Not only will the 3nm node act as the blueprint for the engine powering upcoming MacBook and iPad models, but it could also guide the A17 in the iPhone 15.
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We’re looking far into the future here, and any of these details are subject to change. But if Apple can continue advancing what are already among the fastest and most power-efficient chips found in consumer gadgets, then its rivals, particularly Intel, are going to have a tough time keeping pace.