A huge rate behind the presence of the A16 Bionic chip in the iPhone 14 Pro? The Apple Silicon chip team would have had eyes bigger than their stomachs.
The A16 Bionic chip from theiPhone 14 Pro uses a similar architecture to the A15 found in the iPhone 13 Pro, but this is the Cupertino company’s backup plan, according to a report by Information. The Apple brand originally wanted to add a next-generation ray tracing-capable GPU, but the team in charge discovered major design flaws quite late in development. This forced the giant to abandon its plans and opt for the current A16 chip.
A huge rate behind the presence of the A16 Bionic chip in the iPhone 14 Pro?
These contrary plans would be chip engineers at Apple, “overambitious when it comes to adding new features”. The 2022 chip should have been compatible with ray tracing, a technique that makes the light in video games very close to what we have in real life. Software simulations suggested that it was feasible and the Cupertino company therefore got involved in the prototyping. Unfortunately, the hardware tests consumed more power than the engineers expected, so the chip would have drained too much of the battery and caused the device to overheat.
And since Apple didn’t identify these errors until late in development, it had to draw a line under its plans for this generation and opt, instead, for the A16 chip. In its September keynote, rather than touting impressive gains for its new chip, as it usually did, Apple merely temporarily disabled that the GPU offered 50% more memory bandwidth. According to the newspaper’s sources, this rate is “unprecedented in the history of the company”.
The Apple Silicon chip team would have had eyes bigger than their stomachs
The report of Information links this incident to the more general difficulties of the team in charge of Apple Silicon chips. It details the efficiency, but also the very demanding leadership of the vice-president of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji. The man runs the group “like a well-oiled machine”, but also comes up against the limits of Moore’s law and a drain of talent to startups and competing chipmakers. He would even have lost several brains gone to Nuvia, founded by a former Apple chip designer, Gerard Williams III, a leader much appreciated among the engineers of the Apple brand. The company was acquired by Qualcomm in 2021. The man who replaced him, Mike Filippo, then “quarreled with the engineers” before joining Microsoft. And Apple still hasn’t replaced it. In addition, the Cupertino company would have tried to limit the brain drain by reminding them of the risks of working for startups specializing in chips, which mostly failed.