A14 Bionic Apple ArtSource: 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 ChipSource: 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.