Apple Executives Discuss the New A14 Chip and Apple's Approach to Chip Design

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.

iu
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.

Top Rated Comments

cmaier Avatar
13 weeks ago


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.

I designed many CPUs for AMD.

You are wrong.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ritsuka Avatar
13 weeks ago


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.

Is pwning people at Overwatch serious productivity? :P
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
13 weeks ago
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.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
13 weeks ago


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.”
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JPack Avatar
13 weeks ago
Both of these folks come from a marketing background. There is no valuable insight given.

At least provide Anand to interview so we can hear something meaningful.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
13 weeks ago


Well, I’m a pro gamer and an aspiring Twitch variety streamer, including playing Overwatch and DJing EDM. Apple chips are whack compared to Kirin and AMD. You ain’t going to outspec my gaming rig.

You can put that back in your pants, nobody has any interest in comparing. Apple has the capacity to stomp all over AMD if they choose to do so, but they’re not really aiming at the comparatively tiny gamer PC market, now, are they?
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
lg ultrafine oled

CES 2021: LG Unveils First OLED UltraFine Monitor and 39.7" UltraWide 5K2K Monitor

Monday January 11, 2021 7:57 am PST by
LG has today announced the UltraFine Display OLED Pro with HDR individual pixel dimming, a 31.5-inch display, and over 8 million pixels, as well a new 39.7-inch UltraWide 5K2K monitor. The newest addition to LG's popular series of high-end UltraFine monitors features an OLED display that covers 99 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. The display...
dell ultrasharp 40 5k2k

CES 2021: Dell Introduces 40-Inch 5K2K Ultrawide Monitor With Thunderbolt 3 Connectivity for Macs

Sunday January 10, 2021 9:21 am PST by
Dell this week unveiled a series of new monitors, and there is one in particular that stands out for Mac users: the UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor. A recipient of a CES 2021 Innovation Award, the UltraSharp 40 or "U4021QW" is the world's first 40-inch ultrawide curved monitor with a 5120×2160 resolution, also known as 5K2K or WUHD. This is not a true 5K resolution and instead works out...
kensington studiodock

CES 2021: Kensington's New StudioDock Combines iPad Pro Docking Station With iPhone and AirPods Chargers

Monday January 11, 2021 7:19 am PST by
As part of the all-digital CES 2021, accessory maker Kensington today unveiled the StudioDock, an iPad Pro docking station that also includes built-in iPhone and AirPods wireless charging and an optional Apple Watch charger. A recipient of a CES 2021 Innovation Award, the StudioDock greatly expands an iPad Pro's connectivity options with three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, one HDMI 2.0 port,...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple and Hyundai to Sign Apple Car Deal by March With Production Beginning in 2024

Sunday January 10, 2021 11:22 am PST by
Apple and Hyundai will reach a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, according to a new report shared by Reuters, citing Korea IT News. Before being revised, the Korea IT News report said that the companies may either manufacture the electric vehicles at a Georgia factory owned by Kia Motors, a Hyundai Motor Group affiliate, or invest in a new facility in the United...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
anker magnetic wireless pad

CES 2021: Anker Unveils New Magnetic Series Accessories, PowerWave Stand and More

Monday January 11, 2021 10:05 am PST by
Popular accessory maker Anker today unveiled a whole range of new products that will be coming out over the course of the next few months. There are a range of magnetic cases for the iPhone 12 that will work with MagSafe and non-MagSafe magnetic accessories, with the cases offering simple but protective designs. Anker's iPhone cases will come out in mid-January with prices ranging from...
AirPods Pro

New AirPods Pro and iPhone SE Rumored to Launch in April 2021

Saturday January 9, 2021 1:03 pm PST by
After sharing potential details about upcoming iPad mini, iPad, iPad Pro, and iPhone 13 models earlier this week, Japanese blog Mac Otakara now claims that Apple plans to release both second-generation AirPods Pro and a third-generation iPhone SE in April 2021, with the information once again coming from Chinese supplier sources. The report claims that the new AirPods Pro will come with a...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...