Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a supplier of chips to Apple, has begun mass production of chips based on the new 3nm technology. The A17 chip in the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra will likely also utilize this technology.
At the same speed, 3nm chips will consume 30 to 35 percent less power, and the technology offers up to a 1.6x logic density gain, meaning it will be possible to fit more transistors on chips, which should theoretically make them more powerful.
The 3nm technology is a full node improvement over the 5nm technology utilized by the A14 Bionic, A15, and A16. The A16 Bionic chip that powers the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max is based on a 4nm node that is a 5nm derivative.
The Apple-centric website 9to5Mac has made an intriguing observation: TSMC is placing a greater emphasis on power efficiency than performance, which could indicate that the A17 chip will place a greater emphasis on thermals.
Smartphones of today are more than fast enough for the majority of tasks, so it may be prudent to prioritize energy efficiency over raw performance and increase battery life. However, TSMC had previously stated that the 3nm technology would offer up to 15% better performance while consuming the same amount of power, so it is up to Apple to decide how to configure the A17 Bionic.
N3 technology will offer gains of up to 70% in logic density, 15% in speed at the same power, and 30% in power at the same speed compared to N5 technology. – TSMC
Apple has long held a chip performance advantage over Android phone manufacturers, but Qualcomm is closing the gap. The new premium chip from the company, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, outperforms the A16 Bionic in terms of both CPU and graphics performance. However, the performance has increased at the expense of thermals, so Apple would be wise not to pursue speed.
The A17 Bionic chip will reportedly be exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and Ultra, whereas the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus will likely utilize the 4nm A16 chip.
Apple’s new strategy of reserving the latest chip for the Pro models has not been well received by the market, resulting in lackluster sales of the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus. To avoid a similar situation next year, Apple may reduce the prices of its standard models.