When we talk about processors and chips, one element we look at is the scale, in nanometers, of the transistors that compose them. True, it is not the only way to measure the quality of a chip, far from it, but it does offers a unique basis for its complexity that allows us to make comparisons even between architectures. This year, in terms of the use of the most advanced technology in processors, it seems that Apple will take the lead and by far.
More than half of the manufacturing of 5 nanometer processors is thanks to Apple
According to a study by Couterpoint Resarch More than half of the chips made this year with 5-nanometer technology will be destined for Apple. A rather staggering number that relegates Samsung, its direct competitor, to a distant third place with about 5% of this class of processors. At Apple, the A14 chip was the first to use this technology and shortly after the M1 range was added.
With future releases of new Apple silicon computers awaiting this spring and the next generation of iPhones scheduled for fall, it is clear that Apple will further increase demand for this class of processors. Certainly good news for manufacturers and suppliers such as TSMC, who expected to overtake the rest of the industry thanks to Apple orders.
The semiconductor industry has achieved above-expectations revenue growth in 2020. With supplies restricted from most global suppliers, we expect this momentum to continue in 2021.
Technology migrations at the cutting edge nodes (7-nanometers and 5-nanometers) appear to be accelerating to meet the demand for 5G smartphones, game consoles, and AI / GPUs on cloud servers.
In 2020, industry revenue reached about $ 82 billion, representing a 23% annual growth. Despite this high 2020 base, double-digit growth will persist into 2021. We forecast 12% annual growth with total revenue of $ 92 billion.
If we look only at Apple, the analytics firm not only expects Apple to be the largest customer of this technology, but lead the way to 5nm +, an improved process and the prelude to change to 4nm next year. So much is Apple’s weight within this industry that the second major player in the use of 5 nanometers, Qualcomm, will be largely thanks to Apple. Specifically thanks to the use of X60 modems, manufactured in 5nm, which are expected to reach the next generation of iPhone.
As we said in the beginning, the size of the transistors of the processors is not, by far, the only indicator of quality or innovation in the processors. However, being a relevant indicator it gives us a clear picture of something that, in fact, we already knew: Apple is and will be ahead in the field of processors for a long time, to show an M1.