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Apple will also use the A17 chip for next year’s standard iPhone 16 models. However, a new report claims the Cupertino giant will use a different and cheaper manufacturing process for the chip.

To recall, the A17 Pro chip of the iPhone 15 Pro models uses TSMC’s N3B process. However, Apple will reportedly shift to the cheaper N3E process in 2024. This claim reiterates an earlier one claimed by a user on the Chinese microblogging website Weibo. As pointed out by MacRumors:

N3B is TSMC’s original ‌‌3nm‌‌ node created in partnership with Apple. N3E, on the other hand, is the simpler, more accessible node that most other TSMC clients will use. N3E has fewer EUV layers and lower transistor density than N3B, resulting in efficiency tradeoffs, but the process can provide better performance. N3B has also been ready for mass production for some time longer than N3E, but it has much lower yield. N3B was effectively designed as a trial node and is not compatible with TSMC’s successor processes including N3P, N3X, and N3S, meaning that Apple will need to redesign its future chips to take advantage of TSMC’s advancements.

The report pointed out an earlier rumor that Apple actually considered using the N3B process in its A16 Bionic chip but had to abandon the plan since it was still not ready. With this, the outlet speculates that there might be a chance that the A17 Pro is actually employing the N3B CPU and GPU core design actually meant for the A16 chip. It added, however, that the actual A17 design will be used by Apple alongside the N3E process in 2024, adding the “architecture will presumably be iterated on through TSMC’s successor nodes for chips like the ‘A18‘ and ‘A19.'”


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