In an interview with Engadget’s Chris Velazco, Apple’s VP of Platform Architecture Tim Millet, and Senior Director of Mac and iPad marketing Tom Boger talk about the new iPad Air and the A14 chip. The interview comes following a separate interview the two executives held either this week and one day prior to the launch of the iPhone 12.
The new 4th gen. iPad Air is the first Apple product to include the A14 chipset and is the first 5nm chip that Apple has made. The smaller chip size allows Apple to not only allocate more transistors to the system but gives Apple more leeway. As Tim Millet explains:
One of the ways chip architects think about features is not necessarily directly mapping [transistors] to a user feature in the product so much as enabling the underlying technology, like software in the graphics stack to be able to leverage a new capability in the GPU,” Millet said. “That will inevitably come as a visual feature in a game, or in a snappy transition in the user interface.”Engadget
The new A14 chip also packs Apple’s biggest neural engine on a chip with 16 total cores, vs. 8 for the A13 chip, Given Apple’s stance that it should run machine learning on the device instead of in the cloud, powerful neural engines are becoming a must to run iOS features such as Photos curation, and advanced machine learning. Apple claims that the A14 chip can perform 11 trillion operations per second.
All that power does take immense power, and Tim says that Apple tried to focus on energy efficiency, but also says that the approach to energy efficiency for the iPad will not work the same way on the iPhone.
“We try to focus on energy efficiency, because that applies to every product that we build,” said Millet. By making that a fundamental focus of its chip designs, Apple doesn’t have to worry about a situation in which it “focused on energy efficiency for the phone [in a way] that’s not going to work in an iPad Air. Of course it’s going to work.”
While the A14 is a beast of a chip according to the data Apple has provided, Tim also says that real-life use of the device was paramount. As Engadget notes, however, Apple’s claim that the A14’s chip is 30% more powerful than the A12 in the previous iPad air won’t apply to typical average day users, however, Tom says otherwise.
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.
“We understand that single-thread performance for a lot of applications is really important,” Millet added. “So we make sure that when we’re talking about things like that, we’re representing the single-thread performance well. We also represent that more forward-looking developers are actually taking advantage of the extra cores that are coming in.”
Obviously, the A14 chip in the 4th gen. iPad Air is considered the “A14 Bionic,” while the chip that will debut in the iPhone 12 will be the more powerful A14 variant. Apple will officially debut the iPhone 12 tomorrow at its “Hi, Speed” keynote. You can watch it live on APple’s website, YouTube page, and/or follow our live coverage right here on appleterm.com, or on Twitter @AppleTerminal.