Daily Authority: 3nm era begins for TSMC, Apple, Intel, and more

👋 Good morning! Hope your Friday is looking good.

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Reports of next-gen chips

Apple and Intel are set to be the first to win the favor of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co’s (TSMC) next-generation chip production technology. 

Nikkei Asia reported today that Apple and Intel are testing designs for 3nm production technology, and that an iPad in 2022 may be the first device running the next-gen chip:

  • “Apple and Intel are testing their chip designs with TSMC’s 3-nanometer production technology […] with commercial output of such chips expected to start in the second half of next year.”
  • “According to TSMC, 3nm technology can increase computing performance by 10% to 15% compared with 5nm, while reducing power consumption by 25% to 30%.”
  • (No word on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon designs, by the way.)

For Apple:

  • “Apple’s iPad will likely be the first devices powered by processors made using 3nm technology, sources said. The next generation of iPhones, which are to roll out next year, are expected to make use of the intermediate 4nm tech for scheduling reasons.”

For Intel:

  • “Intel, America’s biggest chipmaker, is working with TSMC on at least two 3nm projects to design central processing units for notebooks and data center servers in an attempt to regain market share it has lost to Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia over the past few years”

What does it all mean?

  • Keeping it simple: the nanometer reference once detailed the length of a transistor gate.
  • That’s a useful metric, because the smaller the gate, the smaller the transistors, meaning the whole chip design can shrink. That shrink allows for more transistors, which means more computations are possible on a chip area, leading to more performance.
  • And there are also power consumption bonuses as well: despite the transistor count increasing, smaller components need less energy to function, so efficiencies improve. This is obviously very useful for battery-powered devices, like smartphones and tablets and laptops.
  • There’s a nice detailed post at SemiWiki that goes to lengths to explain that Intel’s branding of its own node production in its foundries packs more transistors than TSMC. What Intel calls its 7nm process appears to be equivalent to TSMC’s 4nm process. Intel’s 5nm node will be around TSMC’s 2.4nm node.
  • The problem is Intel can’t shrink its process as fast as TSMC, so while densities are good, it remains.stuck on older processes.

Why is legendary chip maker Intel paying TSMC?

  • The problem plaguing Intel is that it’s been much slower than TSMC at shrinking its processes, and actually have its chips using next-generating shrinks. 
  • It has plans, and new CEO Pat Gelsinger wants Intel to be more aggressive. But its 11th-gen CPUs announced in recent months are still on a 14nm process, which it first used in 2014.
  • And while process improvements happen even at the same process size, the reason Intel is paying TSMC is that the Taiwanese company can fab smaller, more competitive chips. 
  • Intel can’t, right now, but hopes to catch up mid-decade.

Roundup

📦US pre-orders open for Sony Xperia 1 III with bonus earbuds, but shipping won’t start until August 19 (Android Authority).

📁Latest Galaxy Z Fold 3 leak spills camera specs, which look a lot like the Fold 2, and may forgo 8K recording (Android Authority).

👉 Your PC might not support Windows 11, but the OnePlus 6T does (sort of) (Android Authority).

🤔 Why did Microsoft choose Amazon over Google for Windows 11 Android support? (Android Authority).

🍏Apple launches public beta of macOS Monterey, bringing updates to FaceTime and Safari (The Verge).

🍎 Rumors about the 16-inch MacBook Pro are back: redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro coming in September? (MacRumors).

🎶Longer TikTok videos are coming to everyone: all users can now record and shape clips that are up to three minutes long, which ends the current 60-second clip identity of the app (Engadget).

💰Robinhood is going public and people are very excited (TechCrunch) to uncover all the info and dealings revealed in the S-1, including just how much Dogecoin is traded on the app (SEC). It’ll trade as “HOOD,” when it lists.

🚀 Ever the promoter, Sir Richard Branson will attempt to go to space on July 11, in a move obviously attempting to one-up Jeff Bezos and his space plans for July 20. But are they rushing things? And, Bezos might argue Branson isn’t actually going to make it to “space,” once largely agreed to be the Kármán line at 100km above Earth, but now a bit more flexible. In any case, it’s billionaire vs billionaire stuff for now, but it is, in theory, about space tourism for us all (Ars Technica).

😬 Watch a police officer admit to playing Taylor Swift to keep a video off YouTube, in an attempt to exploit copyright laws (The Verge).

🧱America’s trillion-dollar concrete bill is coming due (Axios).

🔓Russian military hackers have been on a worldwide password guessing spree (Gizmodo).

🍵 “ELI5: Why, when making a caffeinated drink, we use leaves from some plants (with tea or maté) but for coffee we take the berry? Why not coffee leaves or tea berries? Is it the respectively best way to get the most caffeine/flavor or is it just historical?” (r/askreddit).

Friday Fun

What’s the deal with the Seinfeld soundtrack coming out today? 

Variety explains an album with 33 tracks will be released on “all digital platforms,” and will include, of course, the iconic slap bass-synth-popping sounds of Jerry Seinfeld’s opening monologue.

But there’s also a range of other tunes taken from the 180 episodes, too, including jazz composed but not used, when a scene was cut.

Also, just on why Jerry Seinfeld’s comedy bits even had music: 

  • Jerry reportedly wanted some accompaniment for the opening and closing stand-up, and didn’t like the pilot episode’s music. 
  • So, Jonathan Wolff was found by a friend of Jerry’s, and became Seinfeld’s composer.
  • That said, not everyone liked the slap-bass:
  • “NBC executives declared it “weird, distracting and annoying,” Wolff notes, but co-creator and producer Larry David refused to alter it, even after Wolff offered to find a new musical direction. “Larry was deeply offended, and didn’t change anything,” the composer says.”
  • Classic Larry David!

Have a fun weekend,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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