Apple’s iPad likely be the first powered by 3-nm chip

Apple has emerged the first adopter of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)’s next-generation 3-nanometer (3-nm) chip production technology ahead of its deployment as early as next year, Nikkei Asia reports, citing “several sources briefed on the matter.”

Apple's current 5-nm M1-powered iPad Pro
Apple’s current 5-nm M1-powered iPad Pro

Cheng Ting-Fang and Lauly Li for Nikkei Asia:

Nanometer refers to the width between transistors on a chip. The smaller the number, the more advanced the chip, but also the more challenging and expensive they are to build. The most advanced chip production tech being used for consumer products today is TSMC’s 5-nm technology, which is used for all iPhone 12 processor chips [and M1 Macs and iPad Pros].

According to TSMC, 3-nm technology can increase computing performance by 10% to 15% compared with 5-nm, while reducing power consumption by 25% to 30%.

Apple’s iPad will likely be the first devices powered by processors made using 3-nm technology, sources said. The next generation of iPhones, which are to roll out next year, are expected to make use of the intermediate 4-nm tech for scheduling reasons…

Intel, America’s biggest chipmaker, is working with TSMC on at least two 3-nm projects to design central processing units for notebooks and data center servers in an attempt to regain market share it has lost to Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia over the past few years. Mass production of these chips is expected to begin by the end of 2022 at the earliest.

For Intel, which both designs and manufactures chips, the collaboration with TSMC is aimed at tiding the company over until it can get its own in-house production technology on track. The company has delayed the introduction of its own 7-nm production technology to around 2023…

MacDailyNews Take: iPhone are going to set new records with 4-nm Apple Silicon and iPad Pro will be waiting int the wings to go even faster with a 3-nm Apple-designed chip!


  1. It seems to me as though AMD and Nvidia are getting the most praise from the industry and investors for their high-end processors. Apple is still seen as the company that can’t innovate. I don’t quite understand why as Apple Silicon looks as though it’s a fairly solid processor family with a decent future. There always seems to be this bias against Apple’s ability to perform as well as other companies. I guess some things never change. I can only hope Apple’s partnership with TSMC allows Apple to have plenty of production capacity to push out as many M-series processors as possible while other companies have somewhat restrained chip production.

    1. well the bias is very clear: Apple has been very inconsistent at making high-performance products. So we’ll have to wait until the new MBP and even more importantly the new Mac Pro. Also gaming is the main contributor to online conversation about processors, so the lack of interest in gaming on Apple’s part is hurting them in this regard too.

  2. “Nanometer refers to the width between transistors on a chip.” ABSOLUTELY NOT!

    The stated size is the company’s claimed “feature size”. This is where different manufacturer’s stated node sizes are different and results in things like Intel’s 14 nm being roughly equivalent to TSMC’s 10 nm. What Intel calls a feature is different from what TSMC calls a feature which is different from what Samsung calls a feature, and so forth.

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