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
17 months 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
17 months 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
17 months 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
17 months 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
17 months 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
17 months 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)

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...