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The Apple iPhone 14 series to feature 5 nm SoCs because TSMC's N3 node will arrive too late for the A16 Bionic

iPhones are expected to utilise 5 nm SoCs for another year. (Image source: Apple)
iPhones are expected to utilise 5 nm SoCs for another year. (Image source: Apple)
TSMC will not start mass-producing its N3 node until 2H 2022, too late for the iPhone 14 series. As a result, Apple's next-generation iPhones will rely on 5 nm SoCs. TSMC's N4P node could still bring performance improvements to the iPhone 14 series, though.

According to a report by The Information, TSMC is not ready for Apple to move on from its 5 nm nodes. Previously, Apple had been expected to adopt TSMC's N3 nodes for the iPhone 14 series, with the company using 5 nm SoCs in the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series.

Reputedly, TSMC is struggling to produce 3 nm nodes. Apple will be TSMC's first client to use these smaller nodes, but expectations are that they will not be ready until 2H 2022. Unfortunately for Apple, N3 nodes will arrive too late for the A16 Bionic, the expected name of the SoC in the iPhone 14 series.

Instead, Apple will build the A16 Bionic around N4P, the third revision of TSMC's N5 node. N4P remains a 5 nm node though, despite its name. In a press release, TSMC explains that N4P offers an 11% performance improvement over N5 and a 6% one compared with N4. Additionally, N4P has 6% denser transistors than N4 and is 22% more energy efficient. Unfortunately, TSMC has not provided comparisons between the energy efficiency and transistor density of N4P and N4.

Hence, the iPhone 14 series should deliver an incremental SoC performance upgrade when it arrives late next year. The A16 Bionic could be more use less power than the A15 Bionic too. However, TSMC's press release implies that the difference between the A15 Bionic and A16 Bionic will not be as great as between the A13 Bionic and A14 Bionic.  

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Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - Senior Tech Writer - 5721 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2018
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.
contact me via: @aldersonaj
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 11 > The Apple iPhone 14 series to feature 5 nm SoCs because TSMC's N3 node will arrive too late for the A16 Bionic
Alex Alderson, 2021-11- 3 (Update: 2021-11- 3)