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