Apple was one of the few smartphone companies to introduce a seven nanometre processor to its iOS devices. The A12 Bionic chip, which powers the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, was designed by Apple and manufactured by TSMC.
Less than two years after becoming the first consumer product to be powered by a seven nanometre chipset, the iPhone is reported to be looking to break records again by adopting a five nanometre processor.
According to technology blog Patently Apple (opens in new tab), the company is targeting 2020 for a new five nanometre chipset manufactured by TSMC. Likely dubbed A14, the new silicon will purportedly have a focus on Augmented Reality (AR), AI Deep Learning, and – most excitingly of all – provide HUGE battery life improvements.
The new chipset will ensure the next-generation iPhone will last "for days".
The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) started building its $24 billion five nanometre factory in Tainan, a city in the south west of Taiwan. TSMC will purportedly run trials in early 2019, before cranking up to full production in 2020.
The new plant is also tipped to be the home of a three nanometre Research & Development centre, with hopes of having 3nm processors in smartphones by 2022.
These incremental decreases in the size of the silicon should result in greater performance and reduced power consumption for the smartphones powered by these smaller chipsets.
As elements get smaller and more tightly packed, electrons do not have to travel as far when moving between them. This saves time and energy. It results in a much more efficient processor and ekes out more performance and improved battery life.
Battery life is always a pain-point for smartphone users – no matter what handset they're using – and we can’t wait to see whether Apple and TSMC manage to achieve the five nanometre process before their deadline, and whether the power efficiency improvements are as transformative as the rumours suggest.