This move comes in preparation for the Cupertino firm’s upcoming iPhone 16 range, expected to feature four models.
The N3E is the successor to TSMC’s initial 3nm process known as N3B, a technology prominently seen in Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro through the A17 Pro chip. The new chip process brings cost savings, better yield rates, and pivotal enhancements in chip performance and energy efficiency.
Insights from DigiTimes reveal that TSMC has now commenced large-scale production of the N3E and targets a full transition to this upgraded chip technology by 2024.
Industry giants, excluding Samsung, are set to adopt the N3E process. Apple stands out as TSMC’s most significant client, with confirmed order commitments.
Previously in the year, Apple secured nearly 90% of TSMC’s 3nm chip production capacity. Now, due to alterations in Intel’s CPU design timelines, Apple’s projected capacity uptake from TSMC for 2023 is a whopping 100%. This year, Apple’s orders for the iPhone 15’s N3B chips are anticipated to furnish TSMC with 4-6% of its total revenue, amounting to an impressive $3.4 billion.
Further developments at TSMC include the planned initiation of volume production of the N3P chip in late 2024, which promises even more advanced chip attributes compared to the N3E.
Jeff Pu, a reputed analyst tracking Apple’s supply chain, foresees all iPhone 16 variants being powered by the A18 chip, a product of TSMC’s N3E fabrication. Such a transition from the iPhone 15’s A16 Bionic to the A18 for the iPhone 16 range signifies a major technological leap.
However, there’s still some ambiguity regarding Apple’s final choice of branding for these advanced chips.