(Pocket-lint) – In September, the launch of the new iPad Air ushered in the new-generation ARM-based, Apple-designed processor, the A14 Bionic. And as expected it’s now in the iPhone 12 lineup. Indeed, the new platform underpins all four phones in the iPhone 12 series.
And it might not be restricted to phones and tablets – it could possibly appear in the first Apple Silicon-based Mac which will launch on 10 November. So what’s special about the A14 Bionic?
Firstly, it’s based on new 5nm process technology from Taiwan’s TSMC – manufacturers of many of the world’s most popular mobile processors. That means it’s even more efficient than previous 7nm silicon enabling savings on battery life alongside increased performance. Apple says the iPad Air boasts the same 10 hour battery life despite its increased functionality.
Crucially the A14 Bionic a step ahead of anything that underpins Android devices currently, as well as Intel – its latest 11th generation Core processors are based on a further refinement of the 10nm process and in reality Intel has fallen behind in its development of power-efficient processor tech – indeed it’s a key reason why Apple wants to transition the Mac lineup away from its partner of the last decade and a half.
We’re also expecting an upgraded variant of the A14 Bionic to come to the 2021 iPad Pro, potentially the A14X.
As with pretty much all mobile processors in the world, the A14 Bionic is based on the core chip specifications from British firm ARM – the Apple A14 Bionic is a 64-bit ARM-based System-on-Chip (SoC).
There are six processing cores for a 40 percent boost in CPU performance while there’s also a new graphics microarchitecture – giving up to two times the graphics performance, too.
The graphics part has four cores. There are no clock speeds quoted at all – Apple doesn’t do that and it’ll be interesting to see how it handles that with the debut of Apple Silicon Macs since people are used to comparing clock speeds for Mac and PC chips.
The A14 Bionic also boasts a decent step up in machine learning capabilities thanks to machine learning accelerators which come to the iPad for the first time. Indeed the machine learning acceleration on the CPU itself is up to 10 times faster. There’s a new 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast as before, and capable of performing up to 11 trillion operations per second.
Apple says the combination of the Neural Engine, CPU machine learning accelerators, and high-performance GPU enables powerful on-device experiences for image recognition, natural language learning, analysing motion, and more.
Apple’s vice president of platform architecture Tim Millet introduced the new chip: “For customers using iPad Air for performance-intensive apps like editing 4K videos, creating works of art, or playing immersive games, the incredible performance of A14 can handle them all with ease. In addition to the blazing fast CPU and GPU, A14 is loaded with custom technologies that drive that…like a much faster neural engine, which will make iPad Air more powerful for machine learning.”
Writing by Dan Grabham.