Apple’s contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to build next-generation chips for the upcoming iPhone 13 and its next Mac computers ahead of schedule.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Apple A15 to power the iPhone 13.
  • The next Mac chips to use TSMC’s 4nm process.
  • Apple’s been using TMSC’s foundry services for years now.

The Apple A15 for the iPhone 13

Industry sources cited in a new report this morning from DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, claim that the iPhone maker has tasked TSMC with kicking off volume production of the Apple A15 chip in May of this year, which is a bit earlier than usual.

The chip is expected to power the iPhone 13, which should go on sale in September without any delays. The A15 will be apparently fabricated using an enhanced version of the five-nanometer process technology that TSMC has been using to churn out the current A14 chips.

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The A14 was the first commercial five-nanometer mobile chip to ship in volume. The Taiwanese foundry also produced the first seven-nanometer mobile chips back in 2018, the Apple A12 and A12X. Apple and TSMC switch to a smaller fabrication size every other year.

The DigiTimes report doesn’t mention whether its enhanced five-nanometer fabrication technology could yield power savings and speed increases, which is to be expected.

A new 4nm chip for next-generation Macs

Apple has also ordered four-nanometer chips to power its next Mac models.

Mass production of those semiconductors is expected to ramp up in the fourth quarter of 2021, meaning any Mac updates built around that piece of silicon could arrive in early 2022.

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As you probably  know, the Cupertino tech giant began transitioning the whole Mac lineup to its own silicon last year, a process Apple said would take at least two years to fully complete. The transition kicked off with the M1, Apple’s first custom chip built for notebook-class computers.

The M1 currently powers the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini.

The upcoming four-nanometer Mac chip will certainly be more powerful than the current M1 processor. After all, the chip is expected to run in desktop computers, such as a redesigned all-in-one iMac desktop, in addition to high-end MacBook Pro notebooks. The M1 is also built on the five-nanometer process technology versus Intel’s ten-nanometer chips.