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Apple Begins Development of M4 Chip, Considering TSMC's 2nm or Upgraded 3nm Process

Shortly after launching the MacBook Air with the built-in M3 chip, foreign media, citing sources, reported that Apple has started developing the next-generation M4 chip, expected to launch next year. It is understood that the M4 chip might use TSMC's 2nm process, with the related equipment being set up this year and mass production scheduled for next year.

Insiders revealed that Apple has formally initiated the development plan for the M4 chip, which will be released alongside the next-generation MacBook Pro. Since the announcement of the first-generation M1 chip developed in-house by Apple in November 2020, the company has regularly upgraded its chips, releasing the M2 chip in June 2022 and the M3 chip at the end of October last year, with each generation approximately a year and a half apart. Based on this cadence, Apple is expected to unveil the M4 chip in the first half of next year.

Some believe that, with years of experience in chip development, Apple could potentially shorten the development time and possibly launch the M4 chip by the end of this year.

In October last year, Apple released three M3 series chips simultaneously: M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max. At that time, Apple launched two MacBook Pros with the M3 chip, featuring 16-inch and 14-inch screens, replacing the previous 13-inch screen MacBook Pro. The iMac was also upgraded to the M3 chip last October.

The three M3 series chips all boast up to 22 hours of battery life, with CPU speeds 15% faster than the M2, and GPU speeds 1.8 times that of the M2.

In March this year, Apple introduced two MacBook Air models with the M3 chip, featuring 15-inch and 13-inch screens. Currently, the iMac product line still has the Mac Studio, Mac Pro, and Mac mini equipped with the M2 chip.

The industry generally expects TSMC's 2nm process to begin mass production in the second half of next year, so the M4 chip might still use the 3nm process. However, compared to the 3nm process used for the M3 chip, the M4 chip's 3nm process could be an upgraded version, offering improvements in computing power and energy efficiency.

Recent rumors in the industry also suggest that the M4 chip will feature an upgraded neural network engine, with a significant increase in the number of computing cores compared to the previous generation, enabling it to perform more complex AI calculations. However, Apple has maintained its customary secrecy regarding the M4 chip, leaving room for continued speculation.