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Next-gen Apple iPhone chips reportedly already in production

The 7-nanometer design is also on Samsung's to-do list.

James Martin/CNET

Production on the next-generation processor that will power new iPhones launching later this year has reportedly already begun.

Apple manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing has begun producing what is expected to be called the A12 chip, sources tell Bloomberg. The chip's 7-nanometer design is said to make it faster and more efficient than the 10-nanometer chips found in current Apple devices.

The chip could help Apple's devices run apps faster and operate longer between charges -- giving the iPhone maker an advantage in a competitive market that has experienced stagnant demand for new handsets. A lack of new hardware design innovation, along with longer replacement rates and diminishing carrier subsidies, have been blamed for the cooling.

Apple managed to grow its global smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2018 despite a market that experienced an overall decline in shipments. Apple hopes it can continue that trend with the 7-nanometer chip, but it's not alone. Samsung said Tuesday it'll start building chips with a 7-nanometer process employing extreme ultraviolet lithography, a process that permits smaller features to be etched onto the silicon wafers that are the substrate for chip features.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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