We’re nonetheless a great distance away from listening to something official about Apple’s subsequent system-on-a-chip. The A13 is more likely to be unveiled in September, together with the brand new iPhones it’s going to energy. But the design, manufacture, and testing of those chips takes years, far too lengthy for Apple to out of the blue make radical adjustments. The A13 design is probably going, for all intents and functions, set in stone by now.
By previous A-series chips and extrapolating from what we know of the manufacturing course of Apple will use this yr, we can get an affordable image about what to expect from the A13 chip. It will virtually actually be the quickest SoC Apple has ever developed for iPhones, however precisely how briskly can we expect?
Updated 08/22/19: An article from Bloomberg claims that Apple’s A13 could have a brand new “AMX” element.
Built with an improved 7nm course of
For the A13, we can expect Apple to stay with its manufacturing associate TSMC, which has a agency lead in chip manufacturing know-how. But TSMC is just not but able to make one other leap to a brand new chip course of node, because it did in leaping from 10nm to 7nm final yr. That leap, to 5nm, will most likely be prepared in time for the 2020 iPhone, however this yr’s mannequin will nonetheless be constructed with a 7nm course of.
That doesn’t imply we can’t expect any enhancements on the manufacturing facet. TSMC has two improved 7nm course of nodes that Apple might make use of. The base 7nm course of used for the A12 chip known as N7. TSMC is now prepared for its first clients utilizing the N7+ course of, which makes use of EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet) lithography for among the chip layers. The firm claims this can permit chips with higher density (about 20 p.c extra logic in the identical space) and energy effectivity (about 10 p.c higher).
TSMC additionally has a “performance enhanced” 7nm node referred to as N7P. It would not use EUV in any respect, and is solely a tweaked and optimized model of the method 7nm course of used within the A12. TSMC says it’s going to permit for both 10% decrease energy on the similar efficiency, or 7% increased efficiency on the similar energy.
So N7+ is the superior TSMC manufacturing course of, and Apple often makes use of the absolute best quantity manufacturing for its chips. We assume the N7+ node is more likely to be what Apple makes use of for the A13.
Probably a bigger processor
The A12 elevated Apple’s transistor depend to a shocking 6.9 billion, a 60% enhance over the A11’s 4.three billion. But the die space was round 83mm²—smaller than the A11 (about 88mm²) and much from the biggest chip Apple’s ever put in an iPhone. In truth, it’s the smallest iPhone processor, when it comes to space, in 9 years. Past Apple SoCs have been a lot bigger, and the A5 and A10 have been every over 120mm².
In different phrases, Apple’s iPhone chips are often bigger than the A12, and significantly so when producing a brand new chip with the identical manufacturing course of because the yr earlier than. It can be a…