Apple first in line to get revolutionary new chip process for its iPhone and Mac lineup— First 2nm TSMC chips to go to the tech giant, but not in time for iPhone 16

iPhone 15 Plus review
(Image credit: Future)

Apple has shot to the head of the queue for a brand new chipset that could make future devices incredibly powerful. It’s not likely to affect the iPhone 16, however. 

As reported by DigiTimes, TSMC, the world's leading chip manufacturer and one of Apple's biggest supply chain partners, is ramping up its production strategy for its 2nm chip process, which is denser and more efficient than the tech found in the iPhone 15 line. In that report, it said: “Apple is widely believed to be the initial client to utilize the process, according to industry sources”. This isn't the first time Apple has scooped up the early supply of TSMC's next-gen silicon, having also bought out the initial supply of the 3nm process which powers the iPhone 15 Pro and its M3 Macs. 

Apple has also already got its orders in for the even further advanced 1.4nm and 1nm process, which could lock Samsung and Intel out of the early running over the next five years. This doesn't just make Apple's bid for the most impressive chips one to make its phones faster, but one that puts the rest of the competition behind.

What does this all mean?

A smaller silicon chip manufacturing process means that TSMC and Apple can cram more transistors into the same relative space as the 3nm chip, allowing for a significant bump in power. When it moved from 5nm to the first generation 3nm process, performance rose by up to a fifth, and power consumption was reduced by almost a third. It’s that latter number that’s often the most important when it comes to the smaller production processes — the iPhones and Macs that use it would not only be more powerful, but more power efficient as well.

Apple's early ordering of the 2nm process chips doesn't mean that the 3nm process is done, as TSMC also has upgrades in the pipeline for that as well. Apple will be able to take advantage of this, pushing out even more efficient chips well before the arrival of 2nm. The leap from 3nm to 2nm is unlikely to be massive in raw figures, but it will allow Apple to further optimize its technology. Given the bump from 5nm to 3nm was big but not huge, it seems likely the next upgrade will follow suit. 

Given the iPhone 16 is set to launch in just 8 months, we aren’t likely to see 2nm chips within its chassis, but we will likely see it in future iPhones. TSMC is expected to start producing 2nm chips at the end of 2024, for a launch in the wider market in 2025, suggesting we could see it in the iPhone as early as next year. 

The iPhone 17 could see a leap like the iPhone 15 took over the iPhone 14 — an exciting prospect for any Apple fan.

More from iMore

James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 

With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 

As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.