TSMC’s 3nm silicon might not make it into Apple’s iPhone 14 this week, but it’s on its way with some hefty performance benefits

TSMC was last week reported to be starting mass production of 3nm silicon in September, with products based on the node from early 2023

When Intel delayed its orders, it made TSMC think twice about expansion and scaling back capex plans for 2023 but now sounds like things might be getting back on track for 3nm mass production: at least that’s what TSMC is telling investors. A lot rides on Apple deploying the 3nm silicon for its 2023 and 2024 product plans. TSMC’s new nodes usually launched in Spring, so the later launch will have its impacts.

Although Tom’s Hardware states Apple is likely to be TSMC’s first N3 customer, it seems likely that Apple’s iPhone 14 – due to be launched this week – will not contain the latest technology from TSMC.

But the benefits of the migration are clear: N3 versus N5 (5nm) – apart from its more dense logic (1.6X), it offers 10 to 15% improvements in performance and reduced power consumption over 25%. TSMC is already planning its next evolution – not a node change, but a tweak of the 3nm process (N3E).

The benefits of migration are not limited to developments at the bleeding edge. When it detailed plans for 3nm last year, TSMC was also rethinking its highest volume mixed-signal process (28nm – called N28), shifting it to N16FFC (16nm) with significant gains of up to 25%.

As specialists in IP reuse, Thalia helps mixed-signal companies plan for their migration to new nodes or different process technologies. We help to simplify and speed the migration, reducing their time to market and eliminating costly interruptions in the supply of their most important product lines.