In this piece published on the eve of the introduction of a slew of new iPhones, Chris Velazco of Engadget discussed the new A14 processor with Apple’s Tim Millet and Tom Boger:
“We saw the opportunity to do things that would have been impossible to do with a conventional CPU instruction set,” Millet said. “You could in theory do many of the things the Neural Engine does on a GPU, but you can’t do it inside of a tight, thermally constrained enclosure.”
And that’s a nice segue to the other half of the answer, which is that Apple had to balance sheer horsepower with efficiency. After all, there’s no point in making sure the horses run fast if they tire out too soon.
“We try to focus on energy efficiency, because that applies to every product that we build,” said Millet. By making that a fundamental focus of its chip designs, Apple doesn’t have to worry about a situation in which it “focused on energy efficiency for the phone [in a way] that’s not going to work in an iPad Air. Of course it’s going to work.”
The A14 is, so far, exclusive to the iPad Air, though Velazco states as a fact that it is coming to the new iPhones and that they will be introduced tomorrow. We all sort of assumed that, but it is notable that Apple seemingly confirmed it. It is also interesting that the embargo on this piece lifted twenty four hours before those phones are to be announced.
There are a handful of new details that Millet and Boger share, but the quotes above stood out to me. Neither would confirm any specifics about Apple’s plans for Macs built on its own chips, but the above teases some tantalizing prospects for balancing energy efficiency and performance. The iPad has long supported some incredibly performative apps; just imagine what is possible when you allow for the possibility of a fan and the full depth of MacOS.