iPhone 17's major processor upgrade one step closer — top Apple exec visits Taiwan to secure vital 2nm supply

five iPhones on display in apple store
(Image credit: Apple)

As rumors of an iPhone 17 powered by a brand new 2nm manufacturing process swirl, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams has reportedly visited Taiwan in a bid to secure an early supply of TSMC’s coveted new chips. 

The 2nm process is the next big thing in chip manufacturing but isn’t expected to arrive in consumer devices until 2025 at the earliest. Apple’s current best iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro, is powered by the A17 Pro chip. Just like the M3 chips in Apple’s best MacBooks, these chips are made using a 3nm manufacturing process, which packs more transistors into a smaller space to deliver performance and efficiency upgrades. Apple’s M4 chip, which powers the new M4 iPad Pro and should arrive in Macs later this year, is built using an improved iteration of the 3nm process. According to reports, 2nm chips are expected to enter production in 2025, suggesting the iPhone 17 could be one of the earliest beneficiaries. 

Designing better chips is only half the battle for companies like Apple. With Taiwan’s TSMC the only company capable of manufacturing the chips Apple needs, securing supply is vital, which explains why someone as vital as Williams might make the trip abroad. 

iPhone 17: Supply and demand 

China’s Economic Daily News reports that the COO “recently visited TSMC in Taiwan in a low-key manner,” and was received by none other than TSMC President Wei Zhejia. The report claims that both parties are focused on “Apple's development of self-developed AI chips” and that Apple is planning to secure TSMC’s advanced 2nm process.

TSMC’s 2nm node, AKA N2, offers performance improvements of around 10% to 15% at the same levels of power as the current 3nm process. It also offers significantly reduced power consumption of up to 30% at the same speeds as the 3nm process. As such, adopting M2 will take Apple’s A- and M-series chips to the next level, with the customary leap in performance and efficiency we’ve come to expect from each iteration of Apple silicon.  

Before all of that takes place, Apple is expected to unveil the new iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Pro at its annual September iPhone event later this year. The new lineup should herald a new A18 chip series, possibly with a more potent variant for the “Pro” iPhone models. Looking further ahead to iPhone 17, a recent report indicates that Apple is testing a vastly different design with a slimmer, aluminum chassis, a smaller Dynamic Island, and a relocated rear camera placed in the center of the device’s rear.

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9