Apple orders Next Big Thing in Mac processor performance
Apple has ordered a new crop of Apple Silicon processors for Macs from TSMC which will begin manufacturing 4-nanometer chips in Q4 2021.
Sometimes big news comes in a small package
This really is big news for Apple and Mac users. Not only does it suggest the company is indeed on the fast track to even smaller processors, but it should also mean new Macs making their debut later this year and into 2022 will deliver even bigger leaps forward in terms of performance and power management than the current M1 Macs.
All of which is to be expected, given the trajectory of the company’s silicon development road map, but it’s still exciting news.
DigiTimes claims Apple has already booked TSMC’s initial capacity of 4nm chip production. This may or may not be for the all-new iMac (which we’ve heard could ship next month, in summer of later this year, depending on who is speaking).
It is likely that a move to 4nm will make for significant performance improvements. And as these smaller chips consume less power would make for pretty amazing chips for higher end MacBook Pros, which aren’t expected until fall.
Apple is also aggressively moving to acquire 3nm chips from TSMC for use in future devices (cough, iPhone), putting a vast expanse of clear, blue water between itself and all other competitors when it does.
The news also confirms previous November 2020 claims from TrendForce, who said that Apple is driving really fast toward 4nm and 3nm processor designs. Intel chips remains stranded above 7nm.
Now it looks as if Apple and its chip supply partner, TSMC, will be moving to even more miniaturized process tech in the next few years.
A design for Mac life
It’s also important to reflect that Apple has a long range plan for chip design. The company is not simply moving with the trend. In other words, that means it knows precisely what kind of popwer and performance it will pack inside the M-powered Mac Pro, and also knows roughtly when it hopes to bring that system to market.
“When we design our chips, which are like three or four years ahead of time, Craig and I are sitting in the same room defining what we want to deliver, and then we work hand in hand. You cannot do this as an Intel or AMD or anyone else.” SVP Hardware Technologies Johny Srouji told Om Malik.
There’s still a lot of iteration available to the M1 class chip, or so it seems. A recent report claimed reference to a new processor had been found inside the latest iOS 14.5 beta, suggesting a new architectural leap that may be reflected in Mac processor designs.