TSMC To Begin Production of New 3-Nanometer ‘M2 Pro’ Chip In 2022

M2 Pro Mac mini

Apple just announced the M2 chip, and it appears the SoC family is well on its way to catch up with the M1. According to reports emerging from Hong Kong, TSMC is preparing to begin manufacturing the M2 Pro chip. TSMC plans to produce his SoC, according to the reports, using its new 3-nanometer process.

All About Nanometers and Transistors

For those unfamiliar, the terms “5-nanometer,” “4-nanometer,” and “3-nanometer” refer to the distance between transistors on a chip. The smaller the distance, the more transistors the manufacturer can pack into a processor. That equates to better performance.

The Apple Silicon M2 chip currently in production is built on the same 5-nanometer process as the M1. That’s why, even though the M2 does outperform its predecessor, the improvement is only modest. To achieve a more significant performance boost, the chip requires more transistors.

Planning For the Next Member of the M2 Family

According to analyst Jeff Pu of Haitong Intl Tech Research (via 9to5Mac), Apple supplier TSMC is already preparing to begin manufacturing the M2 Pro chip. Sources have suggested a future Mac mini will be powered by the M2 Pro. The Cupertino-based company also needs to develop a significantly more powerful SoC for an Apple Silicon Mac Pro.

That’s where TSMC’s 3-nanometer process could come in. By producing the M2 Pro utilizing that manufacturing technology, Apple can equip the Mac mini and Mac Pro with a much better-performing chip. According to Pu’s research, that’s exactly what Taiwanese semiconductor producer TSMC has in store.

If Pu’s report is accurate, TSMC will build the M2 Pro on the 3-nanometer process. That should allow the processor to achieve performance gains much better than the M2 offers. Apple claims the M2 has 17% faster CPU performance and 35% better graphics.

The graphics performance increase is due to the chip feature more GPU cores. If the manufacturer can fit even more transistors onto the M2 Pro wafer, the upcoming SoC promises to offer even better performance boosts. Such a move could even bring the M2 processor into the server-grade arena, crucial for the Mac Pro.

We continue to watch for signs of what Apple has planned next, and will update you when more definitive information comes available.

5 thoughts on “TSMC To Begin Production of New 3-Nanometer ‘M2 Pro’ Chip In 2022

  • I can’t imagine why they would give a new fab process the same name as an existing chip. It makes better marketing sense to say M3 = 3nm. Unless Apple wants to confuse the issue somehow intel style. The smaller process would also allow faster clock speeds, as it would take less time for signals to get from one part of the chip to another. So we might see smaller dies with the same number of transistors, accelerated through clock speeds.

    24″ and 27″ imacs are too close together IMHO. And the strangely high price of Apple’s 27″ monitor gets even harder to justify if an iMac returns with the same screen and the same price. Personally, I’m looking at larger screens: Up to 40 inches at 4k.

    1. The fabrication process has nothing to do with the SoC family. M2 is the 2nd generation of Apple Silicon. The M1 family was built entirely using the 5nm process, same as the just-announced M2. As far as that goes, Apple hasn’t lined up the iteration numbers of the Bionic chips in the iPhone with the fab process…A12, A13, A14, A15, etc., even as TSMC used different fab processes that were single-digit numbers.

      I don’t really see any confusion here.

      1. Has Apple ever given chips with two different fab processes the same name? I’m saying that now that M2=5nm, 3nm chips should not be called M2, but something better.

      2. Ahh, I see. No, it hasn’t. The difference between TSMC’s 5nm and 4nm wasn’t significant enough to use it with the M1 Max or Ultra. I suspect TSMC has reached the technology limits of the 5nm process with the M2. Apple’s decision to to adopt the 3nm fab process with the first entry in the M2 family was likely cost-related, since TSMC is only beginning to spin up that process.

  • Jeff:

    If true, that IS good news. 

    Better, still, if it’s going to find its way into the Mac Mini refresh, or even – dare one say – a 27” iMac. I maintain that the latter remains in an unknown status, which could only become known today if Apple were forced to ‘open the boot’. 

    Though not a quantum mechanical principal, I think that the longer the 27” iMac’s status remains concealed during this current state of production site and supply flux, the greater the likelihood that it will emerge alive – rather like a reverse hazard. Chipset optional, but non-inferior to the Mac Studio. 

    Insofar as the 3 nM processor is concerned, I think we should assume the least number product lines for the time being, at least until the 2023 – 2024 cycle. 

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