Every new iPhone generation gives us a brand new Apple processor that is faster than ever, and much better than the competition has to offer. The A12 chips running the iPhone XS and 2018 iPad Pros are so fast that they can surpass most computers in benchmark tests. And that show inspired many comparisons between iPhone and MacBooks, and continues to wonder that Apple can soon launch MacBooks powered by its own ARM chips.
The iPhone 11 phones that will be released in September will give a different boost in speed and energy efficiency, as will the 2019 iPad Pros that will use a soup version of the A13 chip. But a new report says it's next year's iPhone series that will pack a revolutionary processor unlike anything else in the industry.
While other smartphones also want 7nm and 7nm EUV chips this year, Apple's A13 and A13X are likely to deliver the best performance in the city, boasting all their rivals, including processors that run laptops and desktop computers.
This gives us a new Digitimes report focusing on TSMC's financial performance so far this year. Buried in the report is an interesting detail about the company's plans for 2020. According to CEO CC Wei, TSMC will be ready to start volume production of 5nm chips in the first half of 2020. Wei also said that an acceleration in 5G adoption will drive the demand for processors at 5nm and 7nm.
Given that TSMC is the chip maker responsible for producing Apple's A-series chips, it is easy to assume that some (or even most) of the 5nm chips will operate the iPhone 12 series and the new 2020 iPad Pro models.
When the A14 and A14X shocks start next year, they won't have anything similar in your smartphone or desktop. AMD has just launched its own 7nm chips for computers and next game consoles, and Intel goes back even further, struggling with its own 10nm chips.
With the arrival of 5nm chips, we may see the first A-series processor that will be customized for MacBook use. There is no indication in the report that Apple will use 5nm chips for the MacBook. But it would certainly be the logical thing to do. Apple already checks its chip design and can optimize the software on the computers they run. The company could easily do the same with macOS, especially on a platform that would have significant market advocacy. A MacBook packing a 5nm A14 chip is unlikely to have any rival.
The 5nm chips will bring more speed and energy efficiency gains to the iPhone and iPad next year, and the same features can undoubtedly be used on the MacBook line. Apple can also build a special 5nm chip for the MacBook that is much more powerful than those made for iOS devices. After all, laptops offer more property for larger processors. They can also handle chips that draw more power and spread more heat.
That said, nothing guarantees that Apple will launch an ARM MacBook next year. The product will also need a MacOS version that can run on ARM chips. But the 5nm technology looks like the kind of silicon Apple needs to go ahead with ARM MacBooks. What seems clear at the moment is that 5nm chips are in the 2020 iPhones cards, which are also expected to be Apple's first 5G units.
Conversely, Qualcomm will probably do the same for Windows 10 on ARM computers in the near future. The company already has a 7nm platform for PCs, Snapdragon 8cx, and will surely build a successor with 5nm process technology when these chips are ready for mass consumption.