TSMC looks ahead to super-speedy 2nm processors
2nm processors made by TSMC will be faster while using less power than today’s 3nm iPhone chips.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple’s chip-maker TSMC will begin trial production of 2 nm processors next week. This is months earlier than expected, and raises the possibility that the company’s next generation production process will be ready in time for the A19 chip in the iPhone 17.

The improvement over the current 3nm process should bring a jump in performance without affecting battery life.

TSMC keeps Apple at the cutting edge

A-series and M-series processors carry the Apple name, and the chips are designed in Cupertino, but they are produced by TSMC using technology the chipmaker develops. One of the reasons Apple uses the Taiwanese foundry is it has generally been able to shrink the components of Apple’s chips every couple of years, allowing the devices they power to work faster while generating less waste heat.

The A18 processor in this fall’s iPhone 16 series is expected to be made with an improved 3nm process, which TSMC calls “the industry’s most advanced semiconductor technology.”

But then a big change might come.

2nm Apple A19 in 2025 iPhone?

TSMC said in April that it expects to begin 2nm chip production in 2025. But at that time it predicted that it couldn’t start until the second half of the year. That’s almost certainly too late for the iPhone 17.

But ETNews reports that the Taiwanese foundry is ready to start 2nm trial production next week. That’s well ahead of what had been expected — previously, it was thought the company would start trial production in the fourth quarter.

TSMC says only that volume production using its 2nm process — which it calls N2 — will begin in 2025. But an early start might mean the A19 chip can be made with the advanced method in time for iPhone 17.

That’s surely what Apple wants.

More about TSMC 2nm production process

The iPhone 17 might be the first smartphone with a 2nm processor. Or computer of any type, for that matter. And it’ll bring real advantages.

“TSMC N2 technology will be the most advanced technology in the semiconductor industry in both density and energy efficiency, when it is introduced in 2025,” said the Taiwanese company. “N2 technology, with leading nanosheet transistor structure will deliver full-node performance and power benefits, to address the increasing need for energy-efficient computing.”

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