In an attempt to gain a lead against the competition, Apple has reportedly taken all of TSMC’s N3 chip supply for itself. For those that do not know, N3 is TSMC’s first-generation 3nm process and will likely be used to mass produce the upcoming the A17 Bionic and M3.
TSMC’s next N3E process will be announced soon, with Qualcomm, MediaTek seemingly next in line
The Taiwanese chip giant announced the mass production of 3nm chips at its new Fab 18 facility located in the Southern Taiwan Science Park, with the facility expected to be used to mass produce the A17 Bionic and M3. The A17 Bionic will exclusively be used in the upcoming iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, while the M3 will be designed for new MacBook models rumored to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year.
According to DigiTimes, citing supply chain sources, Apple has taken up 100 percent of the N3 supply, which is said to have a high yield. The California-based giant has normally been ahead of the curve in this area, as its A16 Bionic was also the first smartphone SoC to be mass produced on TSMC’s 4nm technology. Though an amount was not mentioned in the report, it is likely that Apple agreed to the 3nm price hike that TSMC introduced, where the company is willing to pay a premium to get the entire supply for now.
Given Apple’s capability as a company to sell iPhones and Macs in the millions, it would have been a prudent business decision to let TSMC assign its entire N3 supply to its most lucrative client. However, Qualcomm and MediaTek are said to be next in line, but the report does not state if the same N3 technology will be used to mass produce the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, which is said to launch earlier than the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 did.
TSMC is also in the process of announcing its N3E node, which should be a more mainstream launch and should be available for various customers, including Qualcomm and MediaTek. As for the 3nm process, it delivers a 35 percent power efficiency improvement over the 4nm, suggesting that this year, the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max could once again have a small performance lead over their direct predecessors.
At the same time, Samsung is reportedly improving yields of its 3nm GAA process in an effort to lure clients away from its biggest rival, TSMC, but so far, it does not look like the Korean giant has made significant progress on that end.