Forget the M3 and A17 Pro, Apple might already be designing chips using TSMC's 2nm fabrication process

The 2023 M3 iMac on a wooden desk, showing the features of macOS Sonoma
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / Future / Apple)

Apple's latest Mac and iPhone chips might be its most capable yet using TSMC's 3nm manufacturing process, but the company might already be hard at work on the next generation of silicon according to a new report. However, the source of the leak isn't one that we're familiar with although it was later shared by the reputable @Tech_Reve account on X. With that in mind it's important to remember that none of this is confirmed and won't be for some time yet. However, it's still worth exploring given the potential timeline for Apple's switch to a smaller TSMC fabrication process.

The leak from gamma0burst claims that Apple is already developing new chips that are based on TSMC's 2nm process but it isn't clear when the chips will be released nor which devices could debut them. The leak appears to be heavily redacted documentation that not only details Apple's plans but also those of Qualcomm, Samsung, Google, and AMD.

The slide does mention "TS5nm, TS3nm, working on TS2nm" which are likely to be the fabrication processes that Apple has used or plans to use in the future. Apple has previously used the 5nm process while the 3nm process is currently being used on the M3 Mac chips as well as the A17 Pro that powers the iPhone 15 Pro family of devices.

New chips in development

The smaller manufacturing processes refer to the size of the transistors that are being used — smaller transistors mean that more transistors can be added to chips which means that companies like Apple can increase performance while potentially reducing the amount of power required and heat generated from these upgraded chips. That can be particularly helpful when designing chips that will be used in portable devices where heat dissipation and battery life are key.

The M3 chips that Apple currently has TSMC build are used in the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops and the 24-inch iMac all-in-one desktop machine. It's also expected that the same chip will be used in the upcoming M3 MacBook Air in both 13- and 15-inch guises, while new OLED iPad Pro tablets are also tipped to use the same chips, making them the fastest iPads to date.

TSMC had previously been tipped to begin producing 2nm silicon as soon as 2025 which might give us an indication of when we can expect Apple to start to ship machines with those chips inside.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.