Each generation of iPhone usually brings with it a major bump in computational performance, but that might not be the case with the iPhone 14.
In a recent report by The Information (behind paywall), reporter Wayne Ma suggests that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is having production challenges making new 3 nanometer chips. This report claims that the next iPhone could stay on the 5nm fabrication process that's been with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13. It would also mark the first time Apple has stuck to the same manufacturing process for three consecutive years.
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The power and efficiency of a computer chip comes down to how many transistors can be crammed on to a die. A chip with a 3nm, fabrication means many many more transistors can fit versus 5nm, as it's smaller. It also means a chip can draw less power and be more efficient overall. The jump from five to three is huge, so it's not entirely surprising that TSMC is having issues — this is cutting-edge tech. Still, it's likely that TSMC will be the first out the gate with a 3 nanometer chip, beating Intel and Qualcomm to the punch.
This could mean that next year's iPhone 14 will not see the performance bump that fans may be expecting. It could be an opportunity for Apple to release an iPhone 13S, and mark 2022's phone as a more incremental upgrade, giving TSMC more time to figure out manufacturing for a potential 2023 iPhone 14. This is, of course, all speculation.
Next-generation tech production challenges come on top of supply constraints caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only has it been difficult to find PS5 restocks, demand for products from people stuck at home are also high. A new report actually suggests that iPhone 13 demand is so high that Apple is slashing iPad production.