Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling down on his prediction that new MacBook Pro and iPad hardware entering mass production this year won’t use new 3nm chip technology. Kuo says these devices will feature “new” chips, but ones still using a 5nm fabrication technology.
2022 MacBook Pro and iPad Pro
There has been disagreement among some analysts about the chip technology Apple could use in these new iPad Pro and MacBook Pro devices. TO supply chain report earlier this month indicated that Apple’s partner TSMC would begin production on new 3nm chips this fall and that those chips would first appear in new Macs later this year.
Earlier this week, Kuo said that new MacBook Pro models would enter mass production in Q4 of 2022, but with 5nm chips inside. In a follow up post on Twitter today, Kuo elaborated on his reasoning for this:
EMS must buy components from Oct at the latest for products that will enter mass production in 4Q22, but 3nm chips won’t be available until Jan 2023. So I think new MacBook Pro & iPad Pro, which will enter mass production in 4Q22, will adopt new but unlikely 3nm processors.
TSMC’s 3nm chip production cycle is about 4 months, so though TSMC said it would start mass production of 3nm from Sep, it would take until Jan 2023 to ship at the earliest. It’s why TSMC offered the guidance that 3nm will contribute revenue from 1H23.
Fabrication process size approximately measures the distance between transistors on a chip. When the process size decreases, the gaps between transistors is reduced. This generally results in a more energy-efficient and higher-performance design.
Therefore, a reduction in fabrication processes from 5nm to 3nm will boost both the performance and efficiency of the Apple Silicon chips Apple uses inside all of its products. This includes the A-series chips inside the iPhone as well as the M-series chips inside the Mac and iPad.
It’s still unclear whether Apple will ship new MacBook Pro updates this fall. With mass production slated for Q4, it’s possible the machines are released this year but given the ongoing supply chain disruptions, a delay to 2023 can’t be ruled out. The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro updates are expected to focus almost entirely on the upgraded M2 Pro and M2 Max performance and chips inside.
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