Apple M3 chips might use TSMC's 3nm node – and may already be in the testing phase

Apple MacBook Air (M1,2020) Rear Lid
(Image credit: Future)

TSMC is prepping its 3nm node for volume production by this time next year 2022, and the Apple M3 chip is expected to be one of the first chips off the fab line.

The report on TSMC comes from Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes, which indicates that TSMC is already running test production off its 3nm process, known as its N3 line, with an eye towards the last few months of 2022 to start ramping up production for shipments to Apple and Intel in early 2023.

The node is expected to produce Apple's 3rd generation silicon, the M3, for use in its MacBook and iMac products. The next-gen M2, expected to be released sometime next year with the launch of a new MacBook Air, is expected to use TSMC's 4nm, or N4, process node.

In addition to M3's for new MacBooks and iMacs, the 3nm node is also expected to produce A17 chips for the iPhone 15.

Analysis: what might a next-next-gen Apple chip look like?

The notoriously tight-lipped Apple hasn't said anything about its roadmap for Apple silicon, and we don't really even know anything about the M2, much less the M3.

But as Mac Rumors points out, there is already a lot of speculation around what 2023's Apple chips could bring.

One industry analyst says that the M3 chip could be on as many as four dies, with as many as 40 cores in its CPU. For perspective, the M1 has eight cores, while the M1 Pro and M1 Max have up to 10 cores.

What all those additional cores would mean for the chip's power efficiency isn't clear, especially since we don't know what the breakdown between performance and efficiency cores will be.

A 40-core CPU would also be physically huge, but it's not like the AMD Threadripper is tiny either, and it gets on alright. Given the level of control Apple has over its hardware design, they could make the chip as big or as small as they like. Who, ultimately, is going to tell them no? 

John Loeffler
Components Editor

John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY. 

Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.

You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.

Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).