Apple and its chip partner TSMC are set to move to a 3nm (nanometre) production process as early as 2023 for both Mac and iPhone processors, according to a new and registration-walled report from The Information.
A 3nm process would offer higher transistor density than the current 5nm tech, and consequently superior performance and power draw.
The Information - which cites "previously unreported details about Apple's road map" - says this transition should allow Apple to "easily outperform Intel's future processors for consumer PCs". When the third generation of M-series processors are released for the Mac, Apple could be able to boast as many as 40 CPU cores per chip; if so, Apple should have no problem maintaining its advantage over Intel.
(Although Intel has fought back against this perception, at one point releasing test results that appeared to favour its own chips, Apple's proprietary processors have pretty consistently beaten Intel's in independent benchmarking. In May we explored why the M1 Mac beats Intel Macs in everyday use.)
The codenames for three versions of this 3nm third-gen M1 chip - according to "three people with direct knowledge of the projects" - are Ibiza, Lobos and Palma.
Before these are released, however, Apple is likely to to update the current 5nm models in 2022, very likely branding the updated components the M2, M2 Pro and M2 Max. Readers with good memories may recall that as long ago as April we were already hearing that Apple was mass-producing the M2, but that turned out to refer to the Pro and Max editions of the M1; Apple decided to hold back the official M2 branding until the following generation.