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Apple A14 - 5 nm, 11.8 billion transistors

badb0y

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Feb 22, 2010
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How does it compare to their previous high-end SoC? I saw the video and they were comparing it to the previous iPad Air SoC.
 

A///

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30-40% faster. How they measure that is... not sure. I monitor company job listings a lot. Apple went hardcore on ASIC and FPGA engineers a few years ago. It hadn't clicked as to why until this morning.

Expect Intel and AMD to incorporate these neural engines in their desktop processors in the coming years, once the next breakthrough in x86 comes along. We're long overdue for one.

I'd go for an Air myself... but really I don't even like tablets.
 
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ksec

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I am interested in the die size. I am thinking this is going to be a small die. The number of transistor suggest something, but we dont know for sure until we get concrete numbers because of transistor density differential.
 

Mopetar

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Jan 31, 2011
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30-40% faster. How they measure that is... not sure. I monitor company job listings a lot. Apple went hardcore on ASIC and FPGA engineers a few years ago. It hadn't clicked as to why until this morning.

Expect Intel and AMD to incorporate these neural engines in their desktop processors in the coming years, once the next breakthrough in x86 comes along. We're long overdue for one.

I'd go for an Air myself... but really I don't even like tablets.
Historically Apple has always picked some specific operation that sees t he biggest uplift and use that to claim "up to" x% performance. The average isn't quite as good, but it's still typically respectable.

They're already at the top of the SoC world so any improvement is worthwhile, but unless you're a power user (Or running high-end games) it probably won't translate into anything noticeable.
 

defferoo

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Sep 28, 2015
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1600196004497.png

These claims are interesting, in the event they said the CPU 40% number was compared to the last generation iPad Air which ran the A12 Bionic, I have no trouble with this since it's in line with what we expect. What I'm struggling with is the 30% faster graphics claim. If it really only has 30% faster graphics compared to the A12, then the A14 isn't much faster than the A13 in the GPU department. Apple claimed the A13 was 20% faster than A12 for graphics, that means we're only going to see a 8.3% improvements to graphics for A14? Seems awfully low given the new node and Apple's track record for GPU related improvements, unless they were really focused on power instead.

In addition, the Neural Engine in A13 was 20% faster than the A12 which had 5 TOPS making the A13 ~6 TOPS. They said the A14 is 11 TOPS, which would be close to 70% faster than the A13 and not the A12. Are they really comparing this to the A12 Bionic in the previous iPad Air? Or is the CPU compared to A12 and GPU and Neural Engine compared to the A13? Or are all 3 compared to the A13? (in which case the CPU improvement is insane)

FWIW, the website says "Compared with the previous generation." which is pretty ambiguous, though it does imply it's the previous generation of iPad Air.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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Historically Apple has always picked some specific operation that sees t he biggest uplift and use that to claim "up to" x% performance. The average isn't quite as good, but it's still typically respectable.
Actually, that isn't true. Of late they have given speed comparisons that while sometimes a little on the optimistic side for general performance, definitely aren't based on single outlier performance measures. In fact, often Apple's press blurbs underestimate how well the new chip will do in specific workloads.

Thus, I would expect that for multi-core speed, it is indeed 30-40% faster. (Single-core may be less.) What this means is that multi-core will still be slower than A12X/Z, for CPU, but it will be within spitting distance.

It also suggests that A14X may also be 30%+ faster than A12Z for CPU, which is well over 6000 for Geekbench 5 multi-core. That's getting to near Core i7-8700 non-K territory.

I am interested in the die size. I am thinking this is going to be a small die. The number of transistor suggest something, but we dont know for sure until we get concrete numbers because of transistor density differential.
We won't know until we get a tear down with X-ray.
 

awesomedeluxe

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Feb 12, 2020
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View attachment 29900

These claims are interesting, in the event they said the CPU 40% number was compared to the last generation iPad Air which ran the A12 Bionic, I have no trouble with this since it's in line with what we expect. What I'm struggling with is the 30% faster graphics claim. If it really only has 30% faster graphics compared to the A12, then the A14 isn't much faster than the A13 in the GPU department. Apple claimed the A13 was 20% faster than A12 for graphics, that means we're only going to see a 8.3% improvements to graphics for A14? Seems awfully low given the new node and Apple's track record for GPU related improvements, unless they were really focused on power instead.

In addition, the Neural Engine in A13 was 20% faster than the A12 which had 5 TOPS making the A13 ~6 TOPS. They said the A14 is 11 TOPS, which would be close to 70% faster than the A13 and not the A12. Are they really comparing this to the A12 Bionic in the previous iPad Air? Or is the CPU compared to A12 and GPU and Neural Engine compared to the A13? Or are all 3 compared to the A13? (in which case the CPU improvement is insane)

FWIW, the website says "Compared with the previous generation." which is pretty ambiguous, though it does imply it's the previous generation of iPad Air.
This is also what I'm trying to figure out. Are they comparing it to the A12? Or the A13?

Because if they're comparing it to the A12, those graphics improvements are pretty modest. Which is not a great place to be when you are about to launch an SoC lineup based on this design that is supposed to provide for machines with much more sophisticated graphics needs.

But if they're comparing to the A13, then both the CPU and GPU improvements are absolutely nuts considering the identical core counts across the board.

I'm also interested to see what kind of RAM shows up in the Air. LPDDR5 would be extremely encouraging.
 

Eug

Lifer
Mar 11, 2000
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This is also what I'm trying to figure out. Are they comparing it to the A12? Or the A13?

Because if they're comparing it to the A12, those graphics improvements are pretty modest. Which is not a great place to be when you are about to launch an SoC lineup based on this design that is supposed to provide for machines with much more sophisticated graphics needs.

But if they're comparing to the A13, then both the CPU and GPU improvements are absolutely nuts considering the identical core counts across the board.

I'm also interested to see what kind of RAM shows up in the Air. LPDDR5 would be extremely encouraging.
I'm 99% sure they're comparing against A12. That would make the most sense in the context of that video, and in terms of general performance expectations.
 
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defferoo

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Sep 28, 2015
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I'm 99% sure they're comparing against A12.
I would generally agree with you, but the machine learning performance just doesn't make sense to me, (11-5)/5 = 120% performance improvement vs A12 Bionic. These are both hard numbers that Apple gave us and are easily compared, unlike CPU performance which can depend on the application.

If they are comparing against A12, we can extrapolate that A14 is
CPU: 15% faster than A13
GPU: 8% faster than A13
NPU: 40% 70% faster than A13?
 
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blckgrffn

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May 1, 2003
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This is also what I'm trying to figure out. Are they comparing it to the A12? Or the A13?

Because if they're comparing it to the A12, those graphics improvements are pretty modest. Which is not a great place to be when you are about to launch an SoC lineup based on this design that is supposed to provide for machines with much more sophisticated graphics needs.

But if they're comparing to the A13, then both the CPU and GPU improvements are absolutely nuts considering the identical core counts across the board.

I'm also interested to see what kind of RAM shows up in the Air. LPDDR5 would be extremely encouraging.
I thought the same. Tangentially, I thought the claims for the iPad 7th Generation (A10) to 8th Generation (A12, finally) seemed modest:

"The A12 Bionic, featured in the base iPad model, offers a 40 percent faster CPU and 20 percent faster GPU than seventh-generation iPads ." I mean, when I look at the iPhone to iPhone bumps from A11 to A12 those seem like the numbers, let alone what felt like a huge jump from A10 to A12. Are they underselling the difference? Clocking lower?
 

defferoo

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Sep 28, 2015
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I thought the same. Tangentially, I thought the claims for the iPad 7th Generation (A10) to 8th Generation (A12, finally) seemed modest:

"The A12 Bionic, featured in the base iPad model, offers a 40 percent faster CPU and 20 percent faster GPU than seventh-generation iPads ." I mean, when I look at the iPhone to iPhone bumps from A11 to A12 those seem like the numbers, let alone what felt like a huge jump from A10 to A12. Are they underselling the difference? Clocking lower?
For CPU, it makes sense if they're talking about single core performance. A11 allowed all cores to operate at the same time which greatly improved multi-threaded workloads, but single-threaded the jump was ~40%.
For GPU, I have no idea where they got that, the jump from A10 to A12 is like 60%.
 

awesomedeluxe

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Feb 12, 2020
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I'm 99% sure they're comparing against A12. That would make the most sense in the context of that video, and in terms of general performance expectations.
Yeah, I looked at it again and they definitely said "compared to the previous iPad Air." They also say "40% more transistors than our seven nanometer chip" which, well, the A12 is 7nm.
For what it's worth, in the press release the CPU and GPU speed claims are explicitly footnoted as being compared to the "previous generation device" while the ML numbers are not.
Great catch. Well, that settles it.

The performance of the CPU is in line with expectations. Though I believe they don't specify that the performance cores are what have a 40% performance boost - they talk about all the CPU cores in the aggregate. Given the considerable boost the A13 Thunder cores got over their A12 variants, this leaves room for doubt on the new A14 perf cores.

But the GPU boost of ~8% over the A13 is... very close to the frequency difference between the 7nm+ and 5nm. Suspiciously close.

Were... no changes made to the GPU core? This is an odd time for Apple to be phoning in graphics design. Intel is increasing the EU count in their iGPU by 50% and pushing their iGPU clocks by 20%. As it stands the A14 won't outcompete Tiger Lake. Sure, Apple can fix that by slapping down 7-8 of these in an A14X, but how do they scale up to provide performance on par with the Radeon Pro 5600M?
 

awesomedeluxe

Member
Feb 12, 2020
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I thought the same. Tangentially, I thought the claims for the iPad 7th Generation (A10) to 8th Generation (A12, finally) seemed modest:

"The A12 Bionic, featured in the base iPad model, offers a 40 percent faster CPU and 20 percent faster GPU than seventh-generation iPads ." I mean, when I look at the iPhone to iPhone bumps from A11 to A12 those seem like the numbers, let alone what felt like a huge jump from A10 to A12. Are they underselling the difference? Clocking lower?
Maybe? That is odd. I don't think there's been any direct comparison between the A10 and A12 before. Here's what Apple says about the A10 vs the A11:

A11 Bionic, the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone, features a six-core CPU design with two performance cores that are 25 percent faster and four efficiency cores that are 70 percent faster than the A10 Fusion... A11 Bionic also integrates an Apple-designed GPU with a three-core design that delivers up to 30 percent faster graphics performance than the previous generation

And the A11 vs the A12:

A12 Bionic features a six-core fusion architecture with two performance cores that are up to 15 percent faster, four efficiency cores that are up to 50 percent more efficient, a four-core GPU that is up to 50 percent faster

If the A12 in the iPhone XS has a 50% faster GPU than the A11 in the iPhone X, how is the A12 in the iPad 8th gen only 20% faster than the A10 in the iPad 7th gen??? Maybe these numbers are all BS?

EDIT: just checked and they actually said "2x faster" for the iPad. In line with the cumulative 30% and 50% boosts across two generations. CPU-side, 40% is also pretty close to the cumulative boosts of 25% and 15% they've stated for the CPU previously, so I think there is no error here.
 
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blckgrffn

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Maybe? That is odd. I don't think there's been any direct comparison between the A10 and A12 before. Here's what Apple says about the A10 vs the A11:

A11 Bionic, the most powerful and smartest chip ever in a smartphone, features a six-core CPU design with two performance cores that are 25 percent faster and four efficiency cores that are 70 percent faster than the A10 Fusion... A11 Bionic also integrates an Apple-designed GPU with a three-core design that delivers up to 30 percent faster graphics performance than the previous generation

And the A11 vs the A12:

A12 Bionic features a six-core fusion architecture with two performance cores that are up to 15 percent faster, four efficiency cores that are up to 50 percent more efficient, a four-core GPU that is up to 50 percent faster

If the A12 in the iPhone XS has a 50% faster GPU than the A11 in the iPhone X, how is the A12 in the iPad 8th gen only 20% faster than the A10 in the iPad 7th gen??? Maybe these numbers are all BS?

EDIT: just checked and they actually said "2x faster" for the iPad. In line with the cumulative 30% and 50% boosts across two generations. CPU-side, 40% is also pretty close to the cumulative boosts of 25% and 15% they've stated for the CPU previously, so I think there is no error here.
I was quoting Ars Technica's article, so thanks for straightening that out.

I've heard the A12 is going to be the next "minimum spec" cutoff point so I was holding out on doing some iPad refreshes here until the base iPad crossed that line. My daughter goes between and an OG ipad Mini and an 1st Gen Air (A7) so the A12 is a bit of a step up. ;)
 

Eug

Lifer
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I was quoting Ars Technica's article, so thanks for straightening that out.

I've heard the A12 is going to be the next "minimum spec" cutoff point so I was holding out on doing some iPad refreshes here until the base iPad crossed that line. My daughter goes between and an OG ipad Mini and an 1st Gen Air (A7) so the A12 is a bit of a step up. ;)
I'm thinking the next iPad spec cutoff point would be A10. Then it could be 3 GB RAM.

Why? Cuz the A10 iPad with 3 GB RAM only came out last year, and the A10 iPad with 2 GB RAM came out the year before.
 

blckgrffn

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I'm thinking the next iPad spec cutoff point would be A10. Then it could be 3 GB RAM.

Why? Cuz the A10 iPad with 3 GB RAM only came out last year.
Somewhere I had read that Apple was allowing for rich application devs (games, AR, etc.) allowing to specify the A12 CPU as minimum requirement despite IOS versions. I can't find it in a cursory search now, so I could be wrong but it makes some sense given the new features the A12 introduced.

I believe after this hardware goes live, the minimum CPU that Apple is shipping in an iphone/ipad is the A12, correct?
 

Eug

Lifer
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Somewhere I had read that Apple was allowing for rich application devs (games, AR, etc.) allowing to specify the A12 CPU as minimum requirement despite IOS versions. I can't find it in a cursory search now, so I could be wrong but it makes some sense given the new features the A12 introduced.

I believe after this hardware goes live, the minimum CPU that Apple is shipping in an iphone/ipad is the A12, correct?
No. They are still shipping A10 in the form of the iPod touch. Also, Apple TV 4K is A10X (not A10).
 

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