The world’s first 5nm commercial chip: What is the difference between the A14 bionic processor of Apple iPhone12 and iPad Air 4


The highly anticipated iPhone 12 did not arrive as expected, but the world’s first commercial 5nm processor A14 Bionic processor integrated with 11.8 billion transistors did not miss Apple’s special event on September 15. Although the new generation of iPad Air debuted the A14 Bionic, does the A14 Bionic of the iPhone 12 support 5G?

The world’s first commercial 5nm processor

Tim Millet, Apple’s Vice President of Platform Architecture (VP, Platform Architecture) said: “By actively adopting cutting-edge silicon process technology year after year, each of our products has become the best in performance and energy efficiency. A14 Bionic is the first in its class. The industry has used breakthrough 5nm process technology.”

What needs to be pointed out here is that Leifeng.com previously reported that the latest generation of 5G modem Snapdragon X60 released by Qualcomm in February this year also uses 5nm, so it is more appropriate to say that A14 Bionic is the world’s first commercial 5nm chip. But in any case, Apple’s self-developed processors have always been very positive about advanced manufacturing processes.

From A4’s 45nm, A6’s 32nm, to last year’s A13’s 7nm, using the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing process can integrate more transistors, and thus bring higher performance and lower power consumption. The 5nm A14 Bionic integrates a total of 11.8 billion transistors, which is an increase of nearly 40% from the 8.5 billion transistors of the A13 Bionic based on the 7nm process last year.

Tim Millet said, “We use these additional transistors to provide new functions, and its more efficient energy utilization and better performance also cover all aspects of the chip.”

What are the specific improvements? The CPU adopts a 6-core design with 4 high-performance cores and 2 high-performance cores, which can compute more instructions in parallel, and achieve a performance increase of 40% under lower power consumption. At the same time, it also integrates a large-capacity and high-performance cache. Meet the needs of the most demanding APP.

The GPU of the A14 Bionic also uses the latest 4-core graphics processing architecture, which improves performance by 30% compared to the previous generation. Its peak performance is also industry-leading.

There is also a very important AI performance. The core number of the A14 Bionic Nerual Engine has doubled compared to the A13 Bionic, reaching 16 cores, and the performance has reached 11 trillion operations per second, which is two generations higher than the previous generation.

In addition, the CPU of A14 Bionic is further optimized through the second-generation machine learning technology accelerator. This is the first time in the iPad. It accelerates the matrix multiplication calculation commonly used in machine learning calculations. The machine learning speed is 10 faster than the previous iPad Air. Times.

Of course, the added 3.3 billion transistors will have more customization. “The combination of the new neural network engine, CPU machine learning accelerator, and high-performance GPU in A14 Bionic has increased the performance of machine learning to a new level, and the APP built for Core ML will be raised to a whole new level.” Tim Millet said, this is Applications such as image recognition, natural language learning, and motion analysis bring a powerful device-side experience.

What will happen to the A14 Bionic of iPhone12?

In fact, the strongest demand for the most advanced semiconductor processes is smartphones. This is because smart phones are limited by their size while pursuing high performance while maintaining low power consumption. Therefore, both Apple and Huawei will choose mobile phones as the first products of their latest generation processors.

Unfortunately, due to the new crown pneumonia, the release of the iPhone 12 was postponed to October, and the first release of A14 Bionic can only choose the latest generation of iPad Air.

According to Tim Millet, under the blessing of A14 Bionic, the iPad Air is 3 times thicker and 4 times heavier than a notebook at the same price . At the same time, the graphics performance of the new iPad Air is 2 times faster. .

Moreover, the targeted optimization of A14 Bionic for iPad Air makes it easier to drive the device to complete 4K video editing, create works of art, and play large-scale games.

But more people are concerned about the difference between iPhone12 and iPad Air’s A14 Bionic? Generally speaking, the iPad has more space for heat dissipation, so its processor can integrate more transistors to achieve higher performance, and a larger screen has higher requirements for the GPU.

Since there is no A13X in the Apple A series product line, we use A12 and A12X as an analogy. The similarity between A12 and A12X is that they are both based on the 7nm process, the main frequency is 2.49GHz, and it can process 5 trillion operations per second.

The difference is that the A12 integrates 6.9 billion transistors, the CPU has 6 cores, and the GPU has 4 cores, while the A12x integrates 10 billion transistors, the CPU has 8 cores, and the GPU has 7 cores.

As for whether the iPhone 12 integrates a 5G modem, the answer is yes. At the Qualcomm earnings conference call at the end of July, Qualcomm’s Chief Financial Officer Akash Palkhiwala stated that due to an anonymous customer’s postponement of the “global launch of 5G flagship mobile phones”, global 5G mobile phone shipments in the third quarter The volume will drop by 15%. But this unnamed phone is only a slight delay, from the September quarter to the next quarter.

Obviously, the unnamed phone refers to the iPhone 12. However, there are different opinions on whether the iPhone 12 supports 5G in all series, and we need to wait for the press conference to be announced.

Also, will the integration of 5G baseband sacrifice some of the performance of A14 Bionic? Will the screen refresh rate support 120Hz?

From this point of view, the A14 Bionic features and performance of the iPhone 12 is still something to look forward to.


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