Apple A14 Bionic chip is going to power the iPhone 12: What is this new chip? What can it do?
Apple wants you to see the A14 Bionic as the “future of computing” starting with the iPad Air 4 and the iPhone 12.
Every year when Apple introduces a new iPhone series, it usually comes with a new chip that powers it all. This year, it is the A14 Bionic chip. The current iPhone 11 series and the iPhone SE (2020) are all on the A13 Bionic, so when Apple launches the new iPhone 12 series, it's time for a new chip to do its job.
However, this year, Apple introduced the A14 Bionic chip with the new iPad Air 4 that it launched at the Apple Event on September 15. So even before it gets in the iPhone 12s, we have an idea of what this chip is and what it can do.
First impressions are rather simple - the A14 Bionic is looking like a significant improvement over the earlier A13 and may also be the key to driving the first generation of Apple Macs with in-house silicon.
The A14, like the previous A13, has two high-performance cores that will handle demanding tasks and there are four high-energy cores that will improve battery life. Going by this, one can expect the new iPhone 12 series to have improved battery life as compared to its predecessors.
Apple said at the September 15 event that all the cores on the A14 are new and should deliver a 40% better performance over the A12 (with respect to the older iPad Air that has the A12).
It's funny that Apple compared the A14 to the A12 instead of comparing it to the A13, but understandable nonetheless since A14's improved performance metrics will not be that much higher than what the A13 delivers and Apple was talking about the iPad Air that evening. Compared to the A13, the A14 promises a 16% bump in performance, according to reports.
Compared to the A12 Bionic chip, the new A14 brings in 40% CPU improvements and a 30% boost in graphics. On the graphics front, compared to the A13, the A14 is going to deliver an 8% gain.
Going by this, if you are expecting the A14 Bionic-equipped iPhone 12 to raise the bar on mobile gaming, this is unlikely.
However, when it comes to AI-powered tasks like photography, the comparative results between the iPhone 12 and the older iterations might be significantly better in the favour of the new ones. Apple says that the A14 has “next-generation” 16-core Neural Engine that delivers 11 trillion operations per second. That's twice as much as the A12 (five trillion) and 83% more than the A13 (six trillion).
There are also new-to-mobile accelerators that promise to deliver upto 10 times better machine learning, according to reports. While this will only matter for apps that use AI intensely, but users should be able to spot a difference overall too. Apple mentioned a new image signal processing while talking about the A14 Bionic at the Apple Event, but they did not go into details.
Android Authority states that the biggest change might be in how the silicon is made. The A14 Bionic is going to be the first “commercially available chip” that's been produced using the 5-nanometer process (the Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 plus is made with the 7nm process). This makes the A14 Bionic a lot denser than the Android counterparts and in theory, contributes towards improved power usage.
Apple did not talk about additional battery life that the A14 Bionic could bring in, but that isn't an issue when it comes to iPads. It will matter for the iPhone 12 series.
Only benchmark tests will be able to tell us exactly what the A14 Bionic can deliver, however, history suggests that Apple's new chip might just be able to claim an overall performance lead over Android options like the Snapdragon 865 plus and the Samsung Exynos 990.
On the other front, Apple's comparing what the A14 Bionic can do conventional computers reveals better results. According to Apple, the A14 Bionic offers twice the graphics performance that a Windows laptop of the same price can offer.
Here, Apple is hoping that you pick an iPad Air over a low-end PC and is also setting a bar for the expectations users can have from the first Apple Mac that is going to based on in-house silicon. Apple wants you to see the A14 Bionic as the “future of computing” starting with the iPad Air 4 and the iPhone 12.