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Between last month's introduction of the iPad Air with Apple's new A14 chip and tomorrow's expected unveiling of the iPhone 12 said to feature the same chip, Apple executives have been making the rounds talking up the technology behind the A14 and the company's overall chip strategy.

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In a new interview with Engadget, Apple's vice president of platform architecture Tim Millet and senior director of Mac and iPad product marketing Tom Boger walked through how Apple has leveraged its ability to customize its own chips to focus on both energy efficiency and performance. Those competing priorities gain some new headroom with the A14 thanks to its transition to a smaller 5nm manufacturing process that packs more transistors into the same chip area and allows them to run at lower power.

The 5nm manufacturing process also allows Apple to devote more of the A14's capabilities to features beyond the traditional CPU and GPU functions, with the Neural Engine in the A14 doubling to 16 cores and capable of performing 11 trillion operations per second, nearly double that of the Neural Engine in the A13.
“We saw the opportunity to do things that would have been impossible to do with a conventional CPU instruction set,” Millet said. “You could in theory do many of the things the Neural Engine does on a GPU, but you can't do it inside of a tight, thermally constrained enclosure.”
On a broader level, Millet and Boger discussed how Apple's chip architecture team thinks about Apple's entire product portfolio, envisioning how its chips can be used not just in a single product but in multiple products over time.
When people at Apple start working on a chipset, they're not solely focused on building one for a single product; they take into account the company's entire lineup. “We spend a lot of time working with the product teams and software teams, and the architecture group really does sit in the center of that,” said Millet. [...]

“Ultimately, we want to make sure that when we build a CPU for one generation, we’re not building it necessarily only for one,” he said. While that doesn’t mean you’ll see the A14’s six-core CPU in something like an Apple Watch, the architecture developed for the company’s flagship phone chipset may well be adapted and reused elsewhere.
With the upcoming launch of Mac products based on Apple Silicon, we'll be seeing even more fruits of the chip team's labor, although Millet and Boger were unsurprisingly not ready to delve into discussions on that topic just yet.

For more on the A14 and Apple's in-house chip work, check out the full piece over at Engadget.

Article Link: Apple Executives Discuss the New A14 Chip and Apple's Approach to Chip Design
 
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cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
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California
Not much news in the actual interview, looks like. Although this is misleading:

It's important to note, however, that real-life performance gains don't always live up to Apple's promises. When the company says the A14's CPU is 30 percent more powerful than the current iPad Air's A12 chipset, for instance, it isn't going off results from popular benchmarking tools you and I have access to. According to Boger, those figures are an amalgamation of "real-world application workloads." In other words, they're composite numbers derived from many different performance factors -- all to demonstrate what it’s like to actually use this thing.

I've never seen any allegation that apple's claimed performance numbers are an overstatement. If anything, commentators frequently point out that Apple undersells claimed performance increases.
 

sub150

macrumors 6502
Aug 7, 2018
260
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It is pretty impressive how Apple will have a range of products (Macs, Macbooks, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TV's, Homepod, Airpods, etc) using 4-5 chips, with a decent amount overlap. It's something that only Apple can do. Now if they can get the software to match the hardware performance.
 

flocked

macrumors newbie
Dec 27, 2008
13
0
My guess:
A14 like chip for 12inch MacBook Air
A14X like chip for 13inch MacBook Pro.
 

CarlJ

macrumors 603
Feb 23, 2004
5,401
9,394
San Diego, CA, USA
AMD is laughing their butts off at the amateurs at Apple. Serious people like me need serious CPUs and GPUs for serious productivity. I’m pwning people at Overwatch all day and night on the highest settings.
“Has no idea what Apple will release...
But knows his is much kewler, as evidenced by his ’leet skillz at Overwatch.”
 

Spock

macrumors 68020
Jan 6, 2002
2,394
3,089
Vulcan
Sort of a meaningless question. "A series" is just a name.

Whatever they use in macs will likely share the same (or very similar) core designs, but have more of them, and may have a higher maximum clock speed.
How is that meaningless? Its not impossible that Apple builds a chipset separate from the A series for the Mac.
 
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69Mustang

macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
Not much news in the actual interview, looks like. Although this is misleading:



I've never seen any allegation that apple's claimed performance numbers are an overstatement. If anything, commentators frequently point out that Apple undersells claimed performance increases.
I've never seen any allegation either, but isn't your rebuttal based on commentator's review analysis of the benchmarks that Boger says Apple doesn't use to make their claims? Common sense says, no matter who is making a claim, ymmv based on use case. It's exactly the same with Apple's battery claims, or any company's performance claims about anything. Those claims are based on a specific set of circumstances. A car rated for gas mileage of 30 city/37 hwy isn't going to hit that every time. The figures aren't absolute. Neither is the statement you quoted. It didn't say Apple's performance gains don't live up to... it said don't always live up to. That's absolutely true, backed by Boger's explanation of how Apple derives their figures.
 
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cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
22,887
27,725
California

cmaier

macrumors Core
Jul 25, 2007
22,887
27,725
California
How is that meaningless? Its not impossible that Apple builds a chipset separate from the A series for the Mac.

It's still not clear what distinction you are trying to make. If it's the same as the A14X but with two extra cores, and they call it "Q14," is that "a chipset separate from the A series?" What if it is identical to the one in an iPad, but with a separate GPU in the package? Is that "separate from the A series?"

It's meaningful to ask "will it be the same chip as is used in an iPad?" It's meaningless to ask "will it be A series?"
 

Deinocheirus

Suspended
Oct 5, 2020
380
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Not much news in the actual interview, looks like. Although this is misleading:



I've never seen any allegation that apple's claimed performance numbers are an overstatement. If anything, commentators frequently point out that Apple undersells claimed performance increases.
That's the Engadget author trying to be slick and having no idea that his geekbench app is not a measure of anything.
 

hot-gril

macrumors 68000
Jul 11, 2020
1,734
1,681
Northern California, USA
I think people forget how standardized PCs have become. Intel CPU (or AMD's imitation) on one of few motherboard types with the same kind of RAM, the only other processor being the GPU maybe. The same few OSs running on all of them. Most software written with CPU (usually just one thread) and RAM in mind, maybe GPU. That worked for decades.

Moore's Law is dead now, and now it's all about hardware specialization. Not only does that throw the old building block PC out the window, but it means less abstraction between hardware and software OR more standardized software. That's already how iPhones work. Apple will have a huge advantage.
 
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