According to a report from DigiTimes (via AppleInsider), Taiwanese semiconductory foundry TSMC is planning to roll out its 7-nanometer process node as soon as 2018. By 2020, the manufacturer plans to jump down to a 5-nanometer process node. How could this benefit future versions of the iPhone?
In theory, an iPhone built around a chip with a smaller fabrication process will achieve better performance along with reduced power consumption. In other words, future iPhone processors built around 7-nanometer or 5-nanometer technology would be faster, more powerful, and also less power-hungry.
The reason for this is the fact that the transistors built onto the chip get tinier and packed together more compactly, so the electrons don’t have to travel so far when moving from one to another. This saves time and energy, making the processor more powerful, quicker, and more energy-efficient.
To put things in perspective, the current-generation A9 chip is mostly manufactured on 14-nanometer fabrication processes, with some of TSMC’s units being produced on its 16-nanometer line. In theory, reducing the fabrication process to 7 nanometers for, say, the A10 chip would result in a processor significantly more powerful, but easier on your battery, than the current generation.
This advance within TSMC’s manufacturing capabilities could work wonders for the iPhone’s battery life, while still allowing the device to continue growing in speed and capabilities. The question left unanswered is when the technology would be adopted. AppleInsider points out that the “industry has only now begun to shift to 14-nanometer production,” and Apple was one of the first companies to take advantage of that process. How long it would take to begin using a fabrication process half that size is truly anybody’s guess.
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