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Apple will launch an iPad next year featuring a processor based on chipmaking partner TSMC's next-generation 3-nanometer process, according to a new report today from Nikkei Asia.

ipad-pro-3nm-feature.jpg
Apple and Intel are testing their chip designs with TSMC's 3-nanometer production technology, according to several sources briefed on the matter, with commercial output of such chips expected to start in the second half of next year.

Apple's iPad will likely be the first devices powered by processors made using 3-nm technology, sources said. The next generation of iPhones, which are to roll out next year, are expected to make use of the intermediate 4-nm tech for scheduling reasons.
According to TSMC, 3nm technology can increase processing performance by 10% to 15% compared to 5nm tech, while reducing power consumption by 25% to 30%.

If today's report is accurate, this would be the second time in recent years that Apple has debuted new chip technology in an iPad before using it in its flagship smartphones.

Apple is using its latest 5-nanometer chip technology in the current iPad Air, which launched in September, with the tablet equipped with a 6-core A14 Bionic chip. Apple doesn't often use new chip technology in an iPad before it debuts in an iPhone, but that is what happened in 2020 due to the delayed release of the iPhone 12 models. The iPhone 12 also features the same A14 Bionic chip.

The latest iPad Pro models, which launched in April, feature the powerful M1 chip, which first debuted in Apple Silicon Macs last year. The M1 chip is based on the same 5nm architecture as the iPhone 12 series and iPad Air.

Whether Apple debuts the next-gen 3nm chip technology in an iPad Air or iPad Pro is unclear, although the timing looks likely to favor the iPad Pro. Apple typically updates the iPad Pro every 12 to 18 months, which could see a next-generation model appear in the second half of 2022.

That would put the iPad Pro close to the timeframe reported for the commercial use of 3nm, whereas production on a next-generation iPad Air with an OLED display is rumored to start in the fourth quarter of this year, with a launch to happen in early 2022.

According to Nikkei's sources, the chip volume planned for Intel is more than that for Apple's iPad using the 3nm process. Intel is said to be relying heavily on TSMC until it can get its own in-house technology back on track. Intel has delayed the introduction of its own 7nm technology to around 2023, while the release of its latest 10nm Xeon processors has been pushed forward into the second quarter of next year.

As for Apple's iPhone 13, expected in September, Apple will use a 5nm+ A15 chip. The 5nm+ process, referred to by TSMC as N5P, is the "performance-enhanced version" of its 5nm process that will deliver additional power efficiency and performance improvements. Today's report also backs a previous one claiming that the A16 chip in 2022 iPhones will be manufactured based on TSMC's future 4nm process.

Article Link: Apple Likely to Debut Next-Gen 3nm Chip Technology in 2022 iPad Pro
 
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Serban55

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Oct 18, 2020
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On even an smaller enclosure of iphone, i dont see Apple to place 4nm in iphones and 3nm on ipads,same year...and second reason...smaller profit margins to have 2 different architecture die
iphone will probably use the same nm as the ipads..but will be an 5-7W while the ipad can sustain 10-12W
 
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JPack

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For people struggling to understand why this makes complete sense, the answer is - you always want the highest density technology for the products with the highest margin.

iPhone doesn't allow the consumer to fork over $100 for an extra CPU or GPU core.

iPad and MacBook based on M2 or M3 will. When Apple can charge a few hundred dollars extra for more cores, they'll want to apply the latest technology in order to maximize profit. Intel and AMD follow this strategy.
 
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Kung gu

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Oct 20, 2018
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Any power efficiency advantage would be cancelled by thinner design and smaller battery. Because Apple...
Didn’t the M1 12.9” iPad Pro get a larger battery and a thicker body?

also the the iPhone 13 is rumoured to have bigger batteries
 
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foobarbaz

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For people struggling to understand why this makes complete sense, the answer is - you always want the highest density technology for the products with the highest margin.

iPhone doesn't allow the consumer to fork over $100 for an extra CPU or GPU core.
Does the iPad have a higher margin than say the iPhone Pro? I wouldn't be so sure.

To me it's not just price, but mostly availability. New manufacturing processes usually scale up slowly. So initially smaller quantities will be available. They can't put it in the iPhone until they can produce tens of millions per month. They can put it into lower volume iPads and Macs much sooner.
 
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Shirasaki

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:rolleyes: Oh, great news, I could finally play genshin impact with maxed out settings without iPad becoming warm at all kek.

Seriously though, will Apple tweak the design to maintain a modest performance increase or offer a 50% performance jump across the board, massively leading the advantage over other processor designers? I have no idea which one they are going to pick. Maybe they enjoy having another ultimate speed bump.
 
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JPack

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Does the iPad have a higher margin than say the iPhone Pro? I wouldn't be so sure.

Not today, but future M2- and M3-based iPad Pro will certainly have a higher margin than iPhone Pro. The iPad doesn't require expensive innovation investments every year like iPhone.

As I mentioned before, simply re-enabling CPU and GPU cores that already exist on the silicon die lets Apple charge an extra few hundred dollars. In that case, Apple will want to use the absolute latest tech in order to minimize die area.


To me it's not just price, but mostly availability. New manufacturing processes usually scale up slowly. So initially smaller quantities will be available. They can't put it in the iPhone until they can produce tens of millions per month. They can put it into lower volume iPads and Macs much sooner.

Apple has used leading edge nodes in iPhone for almost a decade. That hasn't changed their ability to ship out hundreds of thousands of iPhones per day every September. The profit model with iPad and Mac however, has changed completely with in-house silicon.
 
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One2Grift

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Jun 1, 2021
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Yep. As of today the M1 iPad's are pretty much obsolete!


First, this a story about making a chip. That’s all it is, a story. Second, if true we don’t know chip specs. This chip could be A11 power at lower watt usage. it could be for an IPad mini and SE brand IPhones. 3. M series is too powerful and likely too expensive for some applications. Quite possibly Apple always had the plan of 3nm with its lower wattage but solid power, upper end A series for regular and pro IPhones, M1 into iPad IPad Pro MBA and smaller MBP, with an M2 for MBP 14 and 16.
That is speculation on my part just as likely the story is. Who knows, maybe an M lite is coming for regular and pro IPhones, and this 3nm technology chip will be some A series offshoot for the lower end devices.
More Speculation.
 
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dwaite

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Jun 11, 2008
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According to TSMC, 3nm technology can increase processing performance by 10% to 15% compared to 5nm tech, while reducing power consumption by 25% to 30%.
This is incorrect. The technology can _either_ increase performance or reduce power consumption at those levels. From Anandtech:

Compared to it’s N5 node, N3 promises to improve performance by 10-15% at the same power levels, or reduce power by 25-30% at the same transistor speeds.
 
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ian87w

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Didn’t the M1 12.9” iPad Pro get a larger battery and a thicker body?

also the the iPhone 13 is rumoured to have bigger batteries
Hope so.
But it seems Apple is in a cycle of denial, that everytime they have a new design, they think they can cut back on battery, but then reality sinks in and they put more on later revision. They put larger battery on the 11 Pro vs Xs, then they put smaller battery on the 12. And now we expect larger battery on the 13. Why not just put a larger battery to begin with on the 12, and add maybe an extra mm of thickness? :D
 
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ian87w

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Feb 22, 2020
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Wow technical advancements are astounding. Please Apple Inc, do not, absolutely do not reduce devices thickness. A long-lasting battery is one of my most wanted feature in any device.
Seems that instead of taking advantage of the process improvements and design their hardware to have better battery life than previous ones, Apple already have a fixed set of battery endurance they set way back (eg. for iPad, it's 10 hours from the original iPad) and they design around that. So when there's a process improvement that might give more battery life, they cut back on battery to match the fixed endurance they had, ignoring that new sensors and tech like 5G might actually require more battery.
 
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FrozenInferno

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Oct 27, 2013
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Good on Apple for pushing hard into cutting edge nodes, even though I - and probably the vast majority of users - will never come close to taxing the power these iDevices already have. It would be nice to see more emphasis placed on increasing battery life with the new efficiencies but at the very least future proofing iPhones for many many years of iOS support is a win. Even the current 5nm chips in the 12 series should be able to handle 7+ years of iOS updates.
 
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criticasm

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Sep 15, 2017
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yeah.. no, 2022 will be the debut of 4nm Apple chips in A16 & M2 variants. 2023 will be 4nm+ optimised much like this year (2021) is 5nm+. Don't expect 3nm to be mass market until 2024. To go from 5-4-3nm is VASTLY HARDER that it was going from 10-7-5nm. And approaching 1nm don't be surprised that we linger at 3 & 2nm for a few years, maybe several ala Intel's 10nm roadblock.
 
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Darth Tulhu

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Apr 10, 2019
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Yep. As of today the M1 iPad's are pretty much obsolete!
Sorry, no.

The M1 iPads are arguably the first iPad you can keep.

The way Apple optimizes (limits?) things like RAM use means that the M1 iPad has longer legs than ANY iPad ever.

It is the first time an iPad and a Mac are equivalent, long-term investment-wise (because they share hardware).

The concept of a usable 10-year-old iPad was born this year with the M1. Just don't drop it. ;)
 
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Darth Tulhu

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Apr 10, 2019
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Put Mac OS on the iPad and it would be worth buying.
Given iPads outsell Macs this post is objectively wrong.

Only Mac fans say that an iPad needs macOS.

Microsoft already makes the products that Mac-on-iPad fans want. It is FAR more open, flexible, configurable... hell, you can even GAME on them.

Why not get that instead?
 
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