Forget M3 — Apple’s likely already working on 2nm chipsets for iPhone 17 Pro and M5 MacBooks

MacBook Pro 14-inch M3 on table
(Image credit: Future)

Apple is apparently well on its way to designing the next generation of computer chips built to the 2nm fabrication process, if a heavily redacted LinkedIn profile proves to be legitimate.

The find was originally shared by the Korean site Gammaburst, which hides nearly all information about the mystery employee, including the dates working on projects with big firms such as Samsung, AMD, Qualcomm and Apple. Still, in the Apple section, there’s a hard-to-misinterpret sentence: “TS5nm, TS3nm, working on TS2nm”.

Nm refers to nanometers — a size measurement of nodes in computer circuitry. The smaller the nodes, the smaller the transistors, meaning you can fit more on a processor. That in turn leads not just to a boost in speed, but also more efficient power consumption, and this shift is going to be a big one.

Power boost

In terms of Apple’s recent history, the chips powering the iPhone 12 family were the first smartphones to use 5nm chips, while the iPhone 15 Pro upgraded to the 3 nm process. Recent Macs have seen a similar jump, with M2 being manufactured to the 5nm process, and the M3 getting a boost to 3nm and sporting upwards of 25 billion transistors.

While it’s not all down to the size of the nodes, these changes saw a boost of around 20% faster GPU speeds, 10% faster CPU speeds and a 2x faster Neural Engine for AI work. The move to 2nm chips is likely to produce similar gains, alongside a 25-30% reduction in power draw.

But it likely won’t be for this year’s Macs, iPhones and iPads. According to a recent report, 2nm chips will begin full production in 2025, so something to power your iPhone 17 Pro and M5-powered MacBooks. 

That may be a little disappointing, but it’s worth remembering Apple’s 3nm hardware is no slouch as it stands, and it sounds like the company can eke out more performance for 2024’s chips. We’ve heard that the A18 Pro chipset to power the iPhone 17 Pro could be closing in on MacBook-level performance. And it’s also possible that even entry-level iPhones will benefit from faster chips this year, too. 

The M3-powered Macs, meanwhile, are amongst the fastest and most energy-efficient computers you can buy. The only real drawback is the limited range of models using the chip, with just the 24-inch iMac and MacBook Pros packing it so far. Hopefully Apple will expand support next month, with talk of a refreshed MacBook Air and a Mac mini joining the 2nm party sometime soon.

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Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.