Apple execs discuss designing the A14 Bionic for the iPad Air and beyond

To the surprise of many, Apple’s 2020 iPad Air was the first device to use the new A14 Bionic chipset. That SoC’s impact won’t be limited to iPads, either, as it will almost certainly power the next generation of iPhones set to be unveiled on October 13th.

5nm A14 Bionic chip
Apple’s 5nm A14 Bionic chip

Chris Velazco for Engadget:

In a conversation with Engadget, Tim Millet, Apple’s VP of platform architecture, and Tom Boger, senior director of Mac and iPad product marketing, shed some light on the company’s approach to designing the A14, and what it means for the iPad Air and beyond.

Because the A14 was designed for a 5nm manufacturing process, there’s more going on in this system-on-a-chip than ever before… The shift to 5nm meant Apple had far more transistors to devote to all the systems on the chip. Think: 11.8 billion, up from the 8.5 billion the company had to work with in last year’s A13 Bionic. As you’d expect, that huge uptick in transistor count gave Apple the extra processing bits needed to build significantly faster, more efficient CPU and GPU cores. But it also gave Apple the latitude to make more subtle improvements to a device’s overall experience…

Unsurprisingly, this year’s Neural Engine is a far cry from the first one we saw in 2017. While that original co-processor could perform 600 billion operations per second, last year’s A13 raised the bar to 6 trillion operations in the same amount of time. Meanwhile, the A14 generally obliterates the bar by performing a claimed 11 trillion operations per second.

MacDailyNews Take: No other company can match what Apple does by marrying high-performance, custom-designed silicon with operating systems, APIs, and apps that are optimized specifically for Apple SoCs. That’s why even older iPhones consistently run rings around all of the followers’ wannabe dreck.

2 Comments

  1. Once Apple starts putting Apple Silicon processors into all of their products, Apple should have tremendous economies of scale that few other companies can match. I know Qualcomm is up there but I think their SD8XX series will be mostly be used for high-end flagship smartphones and tablets. Apple will likely have much higher performance Apple Silicon chips and those will be used for all their computing devices, so we’re talking hundreds of millions of units. Anyway, Apple should be able to bring down the cost of their silicon far below what Intel can offer in X86 chips, although I’m not sure about AMD’s pricing for Ryzen.

    I’m so curious about what Apple can do with Apple Silicon in desktops in terms of power. It’s really very exciting to me to be able to compare ARM to X86 and see if Apple Silicon has any advantage in computing power.

    1. Agreed. I have been looking forward to Apple’s transition of the Mac from Intel to A-series SoCs since 2016. I thought that the A13 might mark the transition point, but it seems clear that the A14 will drive the first post-Intel consumer Macs.

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