Alleged Apple chip plans suggest “A16” will stay at 5nm, “M2” to jump to 3nm instead


Alleged Apple chip plans suggest "A16" will stay at 5nm, "M2" to jump to 3nm instead

The “A16” chip for the iPhone will reportedly be made using the same process as the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic, with Apple saving a bigger leap in performance for the “M2” chip being developed for its next-gen Macs. In the meantime, the company is working on a “final” M1 chip variant that uses more powerful cores from the A15, according to the leaker known as “ShrimpApplePro”.

a16 5nm m2 3nm Feature 2
in one thread on twitterShrimpApplePro shared information from “a fairly reliable source” that purports to reveal Apple’s chip plans for the upcoming A16 and M2 chips, as well as the “last” variant in the M1 chip family.

The A16 will reportedly be based on TSMC’s 5nm process, just like the A14, A15 and M1 chips. Previous reports have been unclear as to whether the A16 will be manufactured using TSMC’s more advanced 4nm process, with an ambiguous report from DigiTimes claims that Apple plans to use TSMC’s 4nm N4P process – but N4P is actually an improved version of the third generation of the 5nm process. On the other hand, ShrimpApplePro said the A16 will use TSMC’s N5P process. This suggests the A16 might be less of a major upgrade than previously thought.

According to the information, the improvements in the A16 will instead come from minor improvements in the CPU, GPU and memory. Following a report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, ShrimpApplePro said the A16 will specifically feature LPDDR 5 memory. LPDDR 5 memory is up to 1.5 times faster and up to 30 percent more energy efficient than LPDDR 4X memory paired with the A15 chip in iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro.

The M2 chip will appear to be the first Apple chip to make the jump to TSMC’s 3nm process, skipping 4nm entirely. The M2 is believed to be Apple’s first custom ARMv9 processor.

Apple is also said to be working on the “last SoC of the M1 series” with updated cores. The M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max and M1 Ultra chips use energy-efficient “Icestorm” cores and high-performance “Firestorm” cores – just like the A14 Bionic chip. Apple’s final M1 variant will reportedly be based on the A15 Bionic instead, with “Blizzard” low-power cores and “Avalanche” high-performance cores.

This last chip in the M1 family could be offered in the next-gen Mac Pro, which Apple teased explicitly earlier this year. Currently, Apple’s most powerful chip is the M1 Ultra, which is effectively a duplicated version of the M1 Max with a 20-core CPU and 64-core GPU. With the first Apple Silicon Mac Pro, Apple is said to be working on a chip that is even more powerful than the M1 Ultra. The M1 Ultra in the Mac Studio is already faster than the 28-core Intel Xeon chip, so the Mac Pro must have an even more extreme performance advantage.

Alternatively, if it’s not the Mac Pro, this new chip could be a variant of the standard M1 chip. Kuo said earlier this year that the 2022 MacBook Air would keep the M1 chip instead of having the M2, so it’s possible that the ShrimpApplePro rumor was referring to the entry-level M1s rather than the top-tier M1s. Variant in the Apple Silicon Mac Pro refers. or something else entirely. Offering devices with an iteration of the standard M1 chip could help Apple buy time before releasing Macs with the M2 chip.

Other reports claim that the A16 chip will debut exclusively in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, with the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max sticking with the iPhone 13’s A15 Bionic, while the M2 chip will be introduced mainly with a new design rumored to be MacBook Air later this year before spreading to a wave of new Macs and possibly the next-gen iPad Pro.

ShrimpApplePro wasn’t sure about the final naming of the “A16”, “M2” and the final M1 chip variant, saying it should take the rumor with a pinch of salt.

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