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No 3 nm for the A16 Bionic: Qualcomm and MediaTek tipped to beat Apple in the race to 3 nm chipsets

The A16 looks set for a 4 nm node. (Source: Tudocelular)
The A16 looks set for a 4 nm node. (Source: Tudocelular)
Apple, along with Huawei, has usually been the first to showcase the latest silicon manufacturing process, but it appears TSMC's 3 nm may offer a deviation from that. Due to changes in typical production schedules, it looks likely that Qualcomm and MediaTek will have that honor next year, with Apple having to wait till the release of the A17 Bionic in 2023.

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The race to 3nm continues. While we already know that smartphones for the rest of this year will use the current 5nm process, TSMC is gearing up for the upgrade to a 3 nm node, but estimated timelines heavily suggest that Qualcomm and MediaTek will beat usual forerunners Apple this time out.

According to a new report, TSMC will only begin production with its 3 nm pipeline in the second half of 2022—months later than it usually does. For instance, TSMC's 10 nm, 7 nm, and 5 nm nodes all entered service around April. What this means, however, is that Apple will not be able to use a 3 nm architecture for its 2022 chipset. With the A15 set to continue production on an improved 5 nm node, it appears likely that the A16 will stick to a 5 nm process or, as has been rumored, a 4 nm one. The A17 is expected to be Apple's first 3 nm chipset, and will be available in 2023.

On the other hand, Qualcomm and MediaTek will benefit from TSMC's supposed change in schedule, with Qualcomm expected to release a 3 nm chipset in late 2022 as a successor to the Snapdragon 895 that will debut later this year. 

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Ricci Rox
Ricci Rox - Senior Tech Writer - 1982 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I like tech, simple as. Half the time, you can catch me writing snarky sales copy. The rest of the time, I'm either keeping readers abreast with the latest happenings in the mobile tech world or watching football. I worked as both a journo and freelance content writer for a couple of years before joining the Notebookcheck team in 2017. Feel free to shoot me some questions on Twitter or Reddit if it so tickles thine fancy.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 07 > No 3 nm for the A16 Bionic: Qualcomm and MediaTek tipped to beat Apple in the race to 3 nm chipsets
Ricci Rox, 2021-07-27 (Update: 2021-07-28)