Apple chips engraved in 2 nanometers in 2025

Apple’s ARM processors are made in Taiwan by the TSMC foundry. Currently, Apple Silicon chips are engraved with a fineness of 5 nanometers and this has been the case for two years. With its Apple M2 chip, Apple had to settle for an improved version of TSMC’s N5 process, called N5P. The development of the N3 process has indeed been delayed and Apple will not be able to take advantage of it until the end of the year, perhaps for its future M2 Pro and M2 Max chips.

Why is this important? A greater fineness of engraving makes it possible to accommodate more components in the same space, and this also improves energy efficiency. For the passage from 5 to 3 nanometers, TSMC thus estimates that its new engraving process will allow the choice to gain up to 15% in performance at equal consumption or to save up to 30% energy at equal power (or a clever mix between the two), all within a 42% more compact component. These advances are independent of the progress that Apple will be able to make in the very design of its chips.

TSMC has just communicated on what will follow. After the implementation of the N3 process, there will be three successive improvements (N3E, N3P and N3X) between 2023 and 2024, and the N2 process will start in the second half of 2025 with a year behind the initial objective. The AnandTech site has summarized the figures put forward by TSMC in the table below.

N3 and N2 TSMC Progress

Compared to the N3E process, the first out of three developments in 3-nanometer engraving, the N2 process should make it possible to gain 25% to 30% in performance at equal consumption, to save 10% to 15% in energy at power equal, each manufacturer can then place the cursor where they want between these two variables and can also improve the design of their chips. In terms of compactness, the N2 process should save around 9%.

All of this may seem far away, but these are extremely costly developments (up to 34 billion dollars for the N2 plant) which must be prepared well in advance. In any case, we have a good taste of what awaits us and it’s rather promising, even if we have to keep the greatest distance with regard to deadlines.

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