Apple's iPhone XI will be performance king again

Apple's iPhone XI will be performance king again
Besides Samsung, Apple's foundry darling TSMC is the main challenger in the battle for leadership in the production of chips using the upgraded 7nm process. Last fall, Samsung announced that it is kickstarting a new chipset method production, and we will spare you all the juicy argon fluoride against ultraviolet details, going straight to the benefits for the end user.

Chips made with the second-gen 7nm extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography can be produced easier, with better yields, and with a reduced number of masks needed for production that will make them cheaper to make on average. At the same time, compared with the 10nm chips in the Note 9 or iPhone X, the EUV silicon can be made with a 40% smaller footprint, and either 20% faster, or with the whopping 50% reduction in power draw.

Samsung's chief of the semiconductor LSI division called the technology "challenging" during the quarterly results press conference, yet mentioned that Samsung expects to become a leader there. Why? Well, it thought it will be the exclusive producer of second-gen 7nm chipsets, made with the EUV equipment that helps laying down the minuscule transistors close to each other without too much drama.

It turns out, however, that TSMC didn't rest on its laurels and, while it made Apple's A12 chipset in the iPhone XS with the first-gen 7nm process, the A13 will be done with the 7nm EUV method, and it has already entered mass production. Thus, unless Samsung releases the Note 10 with a different processor than those in the Galaxy S10, the 2019 iPhone may be the first to use a 7nm+ processor. 

This will most likely result in all the performance and power draw superiority we've come to expect from its A-line chips, as this Anandtech chart below shows. Note that Apple A12 offers more oomph at the same power draw compared to the competition.

Since today's mobile processors are powerful enough, we'd wager to guess that the designers of the future AX Bionic, Snapdragon, or Exynos chipsets, will opt for a diminished toll on battery life, and the space saved by the EUV method will be utilized for something else in the increasingly crowded smartphone internals.

TSMC also announced that it is sampling the 5nm EUV process which should become available for production in the first quarter of 2020 or just around the time of Android's spring flagships. Could the Snapdragon 865 jump directly into 5nm territory? We'll see, but given that ARM just announced a new Cortex-A77 architecture that offers 20% CPU and 40% GPU performance boost at reduced power consumption with the current 7nm process, this node may be here to stay for a while.

Huawei's Kirin 985, whose design and production are unaffected by the US ban on doing business with its creators, will also be done with the 7nm+ lithography, although the Mate 30 that was likely to flash its cameo, is still in limbo, pending any resolution in America's trade spat with China. TSMC already said that the ban isn't affecting its deliveries of Kirin 985 to Huawei, as it is a Taiwanese company with different rules of trade engagement compared to mainland China.

While the 7nm EUV method may offer a modest boost in performance and power draw compared to the first generation, TSMC has a stopgap 6nm process, too, just as Samsung, and is already tooling the 5nm EUV production lines. Moreover, its press release says that it has aside place for a 3nm production factory, and Samsung also hinted recently that it is ready to venture in the 3nm realm, so the mobile chipset future seems so bright we have to wear shades.

Related phones

iPhone 11
  • Display 6.1" 828 x 1792 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3110 mAh



1. LawnBoy

Posts: 198; Member since: Feb 23, 2019

Benchmarks don't count. Real world, iPhones get smoked time and time agian.

8. kiko007

Posts: 7518; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Smoked by what?

13. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 595; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

One Plus 7 series S10 series Not sure about Mate 20 Pro or P30 Pro havent used them.

3. sunnyfpy

Posts: 288; Member since: May 12, 2013

Nothing but super hype every year new chipset!

4. chris2k5

Posts: 289; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Aww android fan boys mad that Apple chips run circles around their outdated Snapdragon and Kirin processors. Hahaha stay sour

6. blingblingthing

Posts: 978; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

I'm guessing those speed tests where an Android phone runs circles around the iPhone don't mean anything to you. Well, to each their own.

9. kiko007

Posts: 7518; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Speed tests have almost nothing to do with the SoC present unless the difference in sheer horsepower is massive. Those Android devices are winning mostly due to having Double the RAM and shorter animations (which ironically make them seem less fluid and more janky than iOS).

10. sgodsell

Posts: 7456; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

How about an OS that can take advantage of those benchmarks. If it can run circles around, well in your mind outdated Snapdragon, Kirin, and Exynos SoCs, then Apple should be able to easily add real multitasking, and split screen multitasking to the new iPhones. I had a palm pilot back in the days that tasked switched, just like all the iPhones of today. What's truly sad is you think the iPhones are really fast, but they don't do much with that speed. That's just sad for the people who own those iPhones. IPhone users would say things that the iPhones didn't have a screen that could take advantage of real multitasking and split screen multitasking. Well the Max has a really big screen. They use to say iOS and iPhones didn't have enough ram, well they have 4 GB of RAM. So what's the excuse for iPhones not supporting real multitasking and split screen multitasking? The real haha moment is an inexpensive Android device that costs less than $100 can do real multitasking and split screen multitasking. Yet an iPhone at $1500 cannot.

17. Mansolo

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 11, 2019

It doesn't support multitasking because it will kill the iPad. If the iPad supports true multitasking, it will kill Macs. If it kills Macs, Tim Cook is fired.... says Tim Cook. My real pain is that a simple file manager (that doesn't need screen real estate or Ram is woefully missing. When I asked Mr Tim, he said "how would we force you to pay for icloud if we put a true file manager?"

5. chipguy23

Posts: 10; Member since: Dec 23, 2017

The saddest thing with iphones is having all that horsepower under the hood, with an os that doesn't take advantage of it in the least

7. darkkjedii

Posts: 31329; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

So not impressed with benchmarks nowadays. Give me a combination of very fast performance/features/battery life, like the Note 9. Hmmmm...

12. NateAdam8

Posts: 439; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

People get them cause they enjoy them, I enjoy my Android as much as my sister enjoys her iPhone and Sometime in tge future I'll enjoy my new phone just as much.

14. NinoH

Posts: 131; Member since: Feb 09, 2018

For my daily needs my iphone XS Max does everything i need and more. When you start using your phone for real stuff not just OS makovers you will see just how far ahead Apple is fron everybody, ohh and benchmarks do matter because they are a indicator of overall performance of the SoC.

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