TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturing service provider, is expected to supply 2nm chips for the iPhone 17.
According to the Financial Times, TSMC has just presented the test results of its 2nm process chips to two partners – Apple and Nvidia. Earlier, the company said it could start mass production of these chips from 2025. Mobile devices are the top priority, while PC chips will be improved, adjusted on some features and introduced later.
It is expected that the first 2nm chip will be the A19 Pro on the iPhone 17 generation. Currently, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus are using the 4nm A16 Bionic chip, while the two 15 Pro models are equipped with the 3nm A17 Pro chip. Apple has not commented.
In the chip industry, nm (nanometer) is the unit measuring the size of a semiconductor transistor. The smaller this size, the more transistors a processor can contain, thus tending to achieve higher performance while saving more energy. TSMC claims that research is going in the right direction and the finalized 2nm chips will become “the most advanced semiconductor product in the industry”. In addition, the company has also added GAA (Gate all ground) technology, considered a milestone in processor manufacturing, to significantly reduce current leakage and increase performance for 2nm chips.
Statista’s 2023 statistics show that TSMC tops the foundry market with over 50% market share, far ahead of its second rival Samsung Foundry with about 10%. However, according to PhoneArena, this gap may be narrowed due to recent advances by the South Korean tech giant. Specifically, Samsung has applied GAA technology to its 3nm chips (SF3) and is capable of producing 2nm chips (SF2) in the next two years.
“Samsung can mass produce SF2 and is also leading the way in converting to GAA technology. Therefore, we expect the transition from SF3 to SF2 to go smoothly,” a representative of the South Korean company said.
In addition to Samsung, TSMC also faces competition from Intel in the race for next-generation chips. Back in March, Intel announced plans to launch the world’s first 1.8nm 18A process chip in 2025.
Also according to PhoneArena, the operations of Samsung and Intel provide more options for technology companies in the market. In July, some long-term partners of TSMC revealed they wanted to look for new suppliers to increase autonomy. “Being completely dependent on TSMC poses many risks,” said Leslie Wu, CEO of consulting firm RHCC.
C.C Wei, CEO of TSMC, affirmed that the company is capable of protecting its position. In October, answering Gokul Hariharan, an analyst at JPMorgan, Wei believes that TSMC’s 2nm chip technology will have a higher level of refinement and quality than Intel’s 1.8nm 18A process. Meanwhile, Lucy Chen, Vice President of Isaiah Research, assesses that the race between companies is meaningless if chip performance is not really improved.