Apple's iPhone 15 Pro series will use the A17 chip built by TSMC N3E

People familiar with the matter as saying that Apple’s goal is to become the first company to use TSMC’s latest chip manufacturing technology 3nm iterative version of the N3E process next year, and plans to use it for some iPhones and iPhones. Mac computers, which also means that TSMC's basic version of the 3nm process N3 is indeed unpopular as rumored in the industry, and there are very few customers.

According to three people familiar with the matter, the A17 mobile processor currently under development by Apple will be mass-produced using TSMC's N3E chip manufacturing technology and is expected to be available in the second half of next year. They said the A17 will be used at the top end of the iPhone lineup due to being released in 2023.

TSMC has previously emphasized that the next-generation 3nm mobile processor node will be put into mass production soon. Some industry insiders speculate that it will be September, but TSMC has not heard any news yet.

The TSMC CEO revealed, “The N3E will further expand our N3 series, improving performance, power, and yield. We have observed high customer engagement with N3E, with mass production planned for about a year after N3, or around this time next year.” "

According to Taiwan's "Business Times" report, after the completion of technology research and development and trial production of TSMC's 3nm (N3) process, it is expected that the film production volume will start to increase significantly in the late third quarter, and the monthly film production volume in the fourth quarter will reach the level of thousands. Started to enter the mass production stage.

Qualcomm's next-generation Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip obviously cannot use the 3nm process and is still manufactured in the 4nm process. It is expected that the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip will use the 3nm process.

Later, a leaked TSMC PPT showed that the yield of the new generation of the N3E process exceeded expectations. The average yield of N3E's 256Mb SRAM was about 80%, and the yield of mobile devices and HPC chips was also about 80%. The industry believes that the mass production time of the N3E process will be advanced to 23Q2, and it will become the main force for the mass production of new products by major manufacturers next year.

From the previous plan, N3E will serve as an extension of TSMC's 3nm family, with better performance, power consumption, and yield, and will provide a complete support platform for smartphones and HPC-related applications in the 3nm process era. The N3E process will enter mass production in the second half of 2023, and Apple and Intel will be the two major customers.

However, most of the industry has reported that Intel's orders have been extended to 2024, so next year, only Apple will be a major customer of TSMC's "enhanced" 3nm mobile chipset production node, which means that N3E may eventually be used for the first A17 processor.

Judging from the information and expectations of previous whistleblowers, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro specifications are expected to be as follows: 3nm A17 processor, 6x periscope zoom camera, Type-C interface.

Apple will continue the processor difference between the iPhone 14 and the iPhone 14 Pro on the iPhone 15 series. The result next year may only be the iPhone 15 Pro Max and the iPhone 15 Pro equipped with 3nm process A17 chips, while the regular version It is still the A16 chip of N4.

Therefore, according to TSMC's N3E production plan, industry insiders said that Apple will become "the main customer of TSMC's 3nm process manufacturing in 2023, and the foundry is expected to complete considerable 3nm chip orders for multiple customers in 2024."

Therefore, the first batch of models using TSMC's new 3nm chips will most likely fall on Apple's iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

In addition, the "Business Times" reported that the core design of Apple's new M3 SoC has been launched and will be released in the second half of 2023 at the earliest.

Apple's M3 chip, internally code-named "Malma", will be mass-produced on TSMC's N3E architecture. The N3E is said to be an improved variant of the N3 process, also 3nm. Compared to N5, N3 can provide up to 15% performance improvement and up to 30% energy efficiency improvement, and N3E will further expand these differences.

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