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More Fuel for the Rumor Fire: Apple Could Use 5nm Chips in 2020 iPhone Lineup

A steady stream of reports continue to fan the rumor flames that Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup will use 5nm chips. A new statement by Apple’s chipmaker TSMC appears to add fuel to the flames.

Apple’s 2018 iPhones are powered by the A12 chip, which uses a 7nm process, the first smartphone to use the process. The process squeezes more transistors into the same size chip, boosting both performance and energy efficiency.

The A13 chip, which is expected to power the 2019 iPhone lineup, is expected to be based on the 7nm process, but will use a new technology known as extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). The new process is said to make the flagship 2019 iPhone more powerful than many of today’s laptops. (Via 9to5Mac)

An April report announced TSMC had reached a significant milestone on the move to the 5nm process. The company announced delivery of the complete version of its 5nm design infrastructure within the Open Innovation Platform (OIP), which enables 5nm systems-on-chip (SoC) designs in next-generation advanced mobile and high-performance computing (HPC) applications.

The firm last month confirmed it is readying for the manufacture of 5nm chips, but didn’t set a date on when the process would be ready for production.

However, Digitimes now reports the chipmaker has told investors that it is on track for 5nm chip production in the first half of 2020. That timing means it could make an appearance in the 2020 iPhone. The publication says TSMC’s CFO Lora Ho made the statement at a shareholder meeting

Because of strong demand for 5G-related solutions from some major clients, Ho continued, the pure-play foundry’s capex this year will outpace the high end of its previously-estimated US$10-11 billion. TSMC plans to spend more to expand further its 7nm process production capacity and build up capacity for its newer 5nm node, according to Ho.

TSMC has become “a little bit more aggressive” with regards to its 5nm production ramp-up, said company CEO CC Wei during a Q&A session at the investors conference. The foundry is on track to move the node to volume production in the first half of 2020. An acceleration in the worldwide 5G development will lead to an increase in demand for TSMC’s 5nm and 7nm processes, Wei believes.