Apple appears set to introduce 2nm chips in its iPhone and Mac flagships as soon as 2025, according to Vine, making it one of the first companies to intend to do so.
The first 2nm chip prototype has been produced by IBM last year, so the process is far from ready for mass production. According to DigiTimes AsiaSemiconductor giant TSMC has indicated that its 2nm node won’t be ready for general production until 2025.
Apple and Intel will be the first customers in the running for this new process: For its part, Apple is delighted to replace the 5nm chips currently used in its iPhones and Macs with the new 2nm processor.
Before we can get there, TSMC is further accelerating its 3nm FInFET process for the second half of 2022, with Apple being a major customer for new 3nm chips.
There have been conflicting rumors as to whether TSMC’s 3nm production process was late or not, so it’s unclear how any potential delay might affect the company’s timeline for 2nm chips; 2025 is far enough away, after all, so anything can happen.
Analysis: beyond 2nm is… what exactly?
As 2nm processors approach the mainstream market, the question of what’s next is also getting closer. At 2nm, you’re really talking about transistors that are barely bigger than a string of atoms, and it becomes physically impossible to make them much smaller.
It’s a problem we’ve known about for more than a decade now: the “end of Moore’s Law,” named after legendary Intel chief Gordon Moore, who nearly predicted that the density of computer transistors would roughly double every two years. This has been the case for the past six decades, but the microprocessor industry has encountered major headwinds now that we are in the single-digit nanometer scale.
Beyond that, we’re looking for a picometer, or a thousandth of a nanometer, about 100 times smaller than a single silicon atom. The industry’s destination for new innovation and progress on the semiconductor front is unclear, but it’s certainly not there.