Apple to reportedly employ 4nm A16 chip for the iPhone in 2022
In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that the transistor density on chips tended to double nearly every two years. This became known as Moore’s Law and was revised by Moore in 1975 to call for a doubling in the transistor density every two years. The increase in this metric from 7nm components to 5nm amounted to 90%. Based on preliminary figures, the increase from the 5nm process node to 3nm will be 75% and there is the concern that we are coming to the end of Moore’s Law. Both TSMC and Samsung have road maps to 2nm and there is speculation that R&D is being done on the 1nm process node.
What has helped chipmakers increase transistor density was the invention of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV). This technology uses ultraviolet beams to mark up silicon wafers to show where transistors will be placed. Considering that the A14 Bionic employs 11.8 billion transistors, the patterns created by EUV are extremely thin and have helped Moore’s Law stay alive.
Next year’s iPhone 13 series will be powered by the A15 Bionic which also will use the 5nm process node.