Apple will lead the 5nm processor market in 2021

A14 Bionic Apple Art
A14 Bionic Apple Art (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The 5nm chip market continues to see impressive expansion in 2021.
  • Apple will lead the 5nm processor market with chip implementations in its iPhone and Mac lineups.

As reported by analytics firm Counterpoint Research, the 5nm chip market will continue to see fast expansion in 2021 as companies like Apple continue to invest in the technology and implement processors into more and more devices.

The firm predicts that shipment volumes of 5nm chips will account for 5% of 12-inch wafers, a four percent increase from last year. They also say that Apple will be the largest customer of 5nm chips as the company expands the devices using 5nm processors, including its new iPhones, Macs, and potentially its next iPad Pro lineup.

Apple New M1 Chip

Apple New M1 Chip (Image credit: Apple)

The report also speculates that the iPhone 13 lineup could adopt Qualcomm's X60 modem, an upgrade from the X55 modem currently packed into the iPhone 12 models.

Based on our estimates, the total wafer shipment volume of 5nm will account for 5% of 12-inch wafers in the global foundry industry in 2021, up from less than 1% in 2020. Apple is the top customer (with all orders to TSMC) in 5nm this year (see Exhibit 1), including both for iPhones (A14/A15) and the newly released Apple Silicon Qualcomm will be the second-largest 5nm customer as the iPhone 13 may adopt its X60 modem. TSMC is expected to book $10-billion revenue from 5nm in 2021. Samsung Foundry will also gain good traction from 5nm order wins, including its in-house (Exynos) SoC and Qualcomm. In our view, the capacity utilization rate will reach an average of 90% for TSMC and Samsung in 2021, with the upside from stronger flagship 5G smartphone models.

In an earlier report from December, it has also been revealed that chipmaker TSMC has landed a contract from Apple to make the company's first 3nm chips.

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.