Foreign Media The 3nm competition in the semiconductor industry starts with Apple’s iPhone 15 chip

Foreign media reports that the competition for 3nm chips in the semiconductor industry has begun with Apple's iPhone 15 chip

【Phoneauto News】On June 30, 2022, Samsung Electronics became the first company in the world to start mass production of chips using the 3nm process. Foreign media reported that the 3nm competition in the semiconductor industry will start with the chips used in the Apple iPhone 15 series.

Conceptual image of iPhone 15 Pro

Foreign media pointed out that the 3nm era is expected to bring significant changes to the semiconductor market in the next decade. With the 3nm chips providing “power” to major information devices including smartphones, the 3nm era will shine. Therefore, major foundry service providers such as TSMC and Samsung Electronics, non-wafer companies, and information technology (IT) manufacturers have started to cooperate in order to dominate the 3nm market.

Recently, Bloomberg reported that Apple has started testing a powerful new chip called M3 Max, which will be used in the new MacBook Pro models to be launched in October. The iPhone 15 series (possibly limited to the Pro models) to be released in September will use the A17 biomimetic chip manufactured with TSMC’s 3nm process.

Since launching its own chips in 2020, Apple has been using its own chips in its smartphones and computers. Although Apple designs the chips, all production is carried out using TSMC’s N3 (3nm) process. As we all know, the linewidth of a circuit is measured in nanometers, and the finer the production process, the higher the production efficiency, and the stronger the performance of the semiconductor. When chip manufacturers start using the 3nm process, the performance and efficiency of the semiconductor will be significantly improved. Samsung stated that compared to 5nm chips, its 3nm chips have a 23% increase in performance and a 45% reduction in power consumption.

“By at least 2030, the 3nm process will become the mainstream process for foundry companies,” said an industry insider in the semiconductor industry. “If chip manufacturers fail in this competition, it will be difficult for them to make a comeback in the future.” Foreign media believe that chip manufacturers must achieve decisive victories in the competition for the 3nm process before reaching the 2nm process, as the 2nm technology is considered the physical limit of microfabrication.

It is reported that the 3nm foundry market is estimated to be worth $1.2 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow more than 20 times to reach $24.2 billion by 2026. This is also the reason why the competition between TSMC and Samsung is intensifying. Currently, Apple almost exclusively occupies TSMC’s 3nm process, but Samsung’s foundry is making every effort to attract major fabless companies such as Nvidia and Qualcomm. Intel announced that it will start using the 3nm process to manufacture chips in 2024.

According to reports, Samsung is developing the Exynos 2500 chip, which will be the company’s first mobile AP using the 3nm process and is expected to start mass production by the end of 2024. TSMC, on the other hand, will start launching an upgraded version of the 3nm process next year to retain customers. Compared to chips manufactured using the existing process, its advantage is to provide higher performance at a relatively lower price.

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