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MediaTek beats Apple in announcing 3nm chip, but production is a year away

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What just happened? MediaTek has successfully developed its first chip based on cutting-edge 3nm technology from TSMC. MediaTek described the tape-out of its flagship Dimensity SoC as a significant milestone in its partnership with TSMC, adding that volume production is on track to start in 2024.

MediaTek President Joe Chen said TSMC’s consistent and high quality manufacturing capabilities enables them to demonstrate their superior chipset designs and offer the best possible performance to customers around the globe.

Dr. Cliff Hou, SVP of Europe and Asia sales at TSMC, said MediaTek’s Dimensity SoC will put the power of the industry’s most advanced semiconductor process tech in your pocket as a smartphone.

TSMC’s 3nm technology is a major step forward for mobile computing. According to the company’s latest estimates, chips fabricated using 3nm offer up to an 18 percent speed improvement over TSMC’s N5 process at the same power level, or 32 percent power reduction at the same speed, and a 60 percent increase in logic density. These figures vary slightly from previous claims, but only by a small margin.

MediaTek’s announcement is significant in part because technically, they beat Apple to the punch in announcing a 3nm part. Technicalities aside, Apple is the true winner as its A17 Bionic SoC, which is built on 3nm technology, is set to be revealed in a matter of days and will be shipping in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max later this month. MediaTek’s first 3nm Dimensity SoCs will not be ready until later next year at the soonest.

Word surfaced in early 2023 that Apple had procured TSMC’s entire initial supply of 3nm chips. It was a major blow to virtually everyone not named Apple as it forced them to look elsewhere for a cutting-edge manufacturing process or play the waiting game.

MediaTek said its first 3nm Dimensity SoCs will be used in smartphones, tablets, and automotive applications starting in the second half of 2024, but stopped short of naming any specific devices we can look forward to seeing it in.



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