Intel is confident it can overtake Apple's CPU efficiency in 2 years, TSMC says not so fast
Apple’s M processors for the laptop and desktop computer lineups are currently unmatched when it comes to power efficiency. The jump to a custom Arm architecture also helped maintain performance at a relatively high level, although it cannot compete with what Intel and AMD are offering. On the efficiency side, Apple has TSMC to thank, as it provides the most advanced production nodes in the world right now with the N3 technology. TSMC is also assisting Intel, especially on the new architecture that is introduced with the Meteor Lake processors, since Team Blue went through a bit of a rough patch during the peak of the pandemic. Ideally, Intel would like to regain its crown for most advanced foundry position asap, and CEO Pat Gelsinger believes this could happen in a couple of years, when Intel’s mobile processors would be as efficient as Apple’s M CPUs yet considerably faster. TSMC, on the other hand, is not too worried about such statements.
With its unique position, TSMC is both collaborating and competing with Intel, at the same time producing chips for Apple, AMD and Nvidia, just to name the biggest customers. This perspective clearly offers a big advantage to the Taiwanese foundries, allowing for a better assessment of the entire market. While Intel’s plans to claim the efficiency crown and also keep the performance crown are bold, TSMC CEO Morris Chang is arguing that Intel might not be able to pull this off any time soon. Intel is trying to speed things up and release 20A (2 nm) chips by 2025, but Chang thinks these nodes will not be a match for TSMC’s N2 releasing around the same time.
However, Intel hopes to offer its foundry capacity to other companies just like TSMC’s, so Team Blue could be able to book clients if its pricing scheme is better. Chang is not worried about this either and says that only geopolitical factors could swing the situation in Intel's favor.
From what we have seen thus far, the iPhone 15 Pro processors built on TSMC’s N3 nodes are not particularly impressive when it comes to efficiency and performance gains. Nevertheless, N3 is expected to shine on the upcoming M3 processors for laptops and desktops rumored to release next year.