During its technology symposium in Taiwan on June 21, CC Wei, the CEO of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) stated that the production of its next generation 5-nanometer chips would likely begin sometime near the end of 2019, with mass production of the processors slated for an early 2020 release. TSMC’s 5nm chips are expected to be rolled out in Apple’s future iPhone and iPad series, which are set for release a few years from now.
During his talk at the symposium, Wei noted that the company’s ongoing production ramp for its 7nm chips is going well, with capacity hitting 12 million in 2018. These figures correspond to a 9 percent increase from the company’s production output in year-on-year, when TSMC manufactured 10.5 million units. As noted in a DigiTimes report, however, the company did not elaborate on the specific orders from its high-profile customers such as Apple.
Apple is expected to adopt TSMC’s 7nm chips in its upcoming iPhone and iPad series for 2018. According to reports, the 5.8-inch iPhone X 2018, the 6.5-inch iPhone X Plus, and the 6.1-inch LCD iPhone would all be fitted with the company’s next-generation processor, expected to be called the A12 chip. The A12 processor, or a slightly upgraded A12X chip, is also expected to be the processor of choice for Apple’s flagship tablet line — the iPad Pro series — which is also expected to debut a refreshed design when it gets unveiled.
Apple’s homegrown A-series processors are among the best in the mobile market, with its latest iteration — the A11 Bionic — earning top marks in benchmarking tests. As noted in a Tom’s Guide report, the A11 Bionic practically decimated every other mobile phone chip in the market in terms of raw power and performance. The A11 Bionic is an Apple-designed six-core CPU that features two performance cores and four high-efficiency cores, with the former offering a 25 percent performance boost. Overall, the A11 Bionic features up to a 70 percent improvement over Apple’s A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7 series. Apple’s GPU is also 30 percent faster than its direct predecessor.
In Geekbench 4’s multi-core tests alone, the A11 Bionic earned a score of 10,170, making it 54 percent faster than the score from the fastest Android smartphone in the market at the time, the Galaxy Note 8. The A11 Bionic went head-to-head with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, and it was no contest. The SD 835-equipped Galaxy Note 8 earned a score of 6,564, the Galaxy S9 with its measly 4GB RAM earned 6,295 points, and the OnePlus 5 with its 8GB of RAM earned 6,542 points. So powerful was Apple’s A11 Bionic that it actually beat the MacBook Pro 13-inch’s Intel Core i5, which received a Geekbench 4 score of 9,213.
With its upcoming 5nm processors, Apple’s homegrown chips are set to become even faster. A smaller architecture allows more processing power to fit into a space while often improving power efficiency. Once Apple rolls out its first 5nm chip, there is little doubt that it would probably dominate benchmarks once more.