Amid Massive Chip Shortage, Apple’s A15, M1X, and New Vehicle ICs Are at the Very Front of the Line

Everyone else will just have to wait.
Apple Silicon M2 SoC 11730 Credit: Apple / iSpazio
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One of the big advantages of buying products from a massive company like Apple is the sheer amount of power it wields in its supply chain. Even in the midst of an ongoing global chip shortage, it looks like we won’t be left waiting any longer than strictly necessary to get our hands on the newest iPhone, iPad, and MacBook models when they arrive later this year.

Specifically, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) — the main supplier of Apple’s insanely powerful A-series and M-series chips — plans to give Apple top priority on the chip manufacturing line for the third quarter of 2021.

To be fair, Apple won’t be the only one at the front of the line, as sources within the chip fabricator have told DigiTimes that automotive ICs for carmakers will also be prioritized, however chip orders for PCs, servers, and networking devices are going to have to take second place, which may result in delays for most other traditional computing products.

While this won’t likely impact Intel CPUs used in Windows PCs, since Intel has its own chip foundry, there are many other chips made by TSMC that go into traditional PCs and laptops. Most significantly, this includes GPUs by AMD and NVIDIA, which are both critical components in most modern Windows PCs.

On the other hand, Apple’s new M1 and upcoming “M1X” chips don’t rely on third-party GPUs. Instead, multiple GPU cores are baked right into Apple Silicon, just like they’ve always been on the A-series chips used in the iPhone and iPad.

That said, this doesn’t mean Apple is completely out of the woods, since there are many smaller chips in Apple’s products that handle everything from power management to driving the advanced display technologies. This is particularly true with the new mini-LED technologies used on the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and upcoming MacBook Pro models.

In fact, there have already been hints that this chip shortage caused the 11-inch iPad Pro to miss out on the mini-LED treatment, and also took the M1X MacBook Pro off the table at the last minute. It was a similar shortage of display driver chips that cancelled the 120Hz ProMotion displays in last year’s iPhone 12 Pro lineup.

However, as that last example proved, Apple won’t hesitate to nix a new technology when it runs into these kinds of snags, rather than delay a new device entirely. We’re fairly convinced it’s solved the 120Hz display problem for this year’s iPhone, but it remains to be seen if there are any other new features that Apple might have to give up on due to supply chain problems.

What we do know, however, is that Apple won’t have any problems getting enough A15 chips for the “iPhone 13” nor pulling in the necessary “M1X” or “M2” chips for its highly anticipated 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

Although Apple has admitted that the Mac and iPad lineups may be affected later this year, it won’t be due to a lack of Apple Silicon; most likely the problem will be obtaining sufficient quantities of things like display driver chips, and it’s likely that we would have seen the new MacBook Pro already if it weren’t for these problems.

More importantly, however, Apple hasn’t even hinted about the possibility of delays in iPhone production, so it’s safe to say that we will see the “iPhone 13” arrive on time in September this fall, as several reputable analysts have been predicting all along.

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