Apple supplier TSMC has started mass production on the processors for this year’s lineup of new iPhones, according to Bloomberg. The chip, which is expected to be called the A12, could be the first to use a 7-nanometer process in a commercial device, something the technology industry has been working toward for years.
7nm technology refers to the density of transistors on a chip, though the precise specifications can differ between manufacturers. Using a smaller process allows for chips to be smaller, faster, and more efficient, and over time can lead to cost savings. Current leading processors on smartphones, like Apple’s A11 Bionic and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845, are made with a 10nm process.
Samsung announced today that it’ll be ready to start producing 7nm chips at scale next year. The company has manufactured iPhone chips in the past and shared production with TSMC on the A9 chip in the iPhone 6S, but TSMC has been Apple’s exclusive SoC partner ever since.
Apple is widely expected to launch three new iPhone models this fall: an update to the iPhone X, a Plus-sized variant, and a lower-priced device with a 6.1-inch LCD.