As anticipated, Apple on Tuesday introduced new watches, iPads and providers; you may learn all about these merchandise right here. But two bulletins stand out as significantly fascinating for enterprise customers:
The iPad Air four and the A14 Bionic processor it accommodates.
A breath of iPad Air
Apple’s fourth-gen iPad Air was the star of the digital present, primarily as a result of the pill now accommodates Apple’s strongest A14 processor. Isn’t but out there in another product together with the iPad Pro or iPhone, however will probably be.
Available from October from $599 or $729 (mobile), right here’s the spec sheet for the new pill:
- 10.9-in. Liquid Retina show with 3.eight million pixels, P3 extensive colour assist and TrueTone.
- 12MP rear digital camera (like the iPad Pro) and 7MP FaceTime digital camera.
- A Touch ID system that hides the sensor inside the prime button, enabling the bigger show.
- Available in silver, house grey, rose gold, inexperienced, and sky blue.
- USB-C, Wi-Fi 6, Stereo audio system, LTE.
- Apple Pencil 2, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio supported.
- Apple’s newest A14 Bionic processor (extra beneath).
- A free 12 months of Apple TV with an iPad Air buy.
With its bigger display screen, higher digital camera and iOS 14, iPad Air appears set to ship the sort of efficiency wanted to get much more complicated duties performed. This ought to make it a superb second or third machine for data employees – and a welcome addition to the arsenal of anybody working from house.
From an enterprise perspective, these iPads appear to vow extra of what you want in the case of changing legacy techniques with cellular units. However, what’s actually essential to the enterprise story is the processor inside.
The Schrodinger genie
Armed with an ARM reference design, Apple’s chip growth groups have labored with fabricator TSMC to create a world first 5-nanometer chip inside a mass market machine. The A14 Bionic represents a triumph of ingenuity that hasn’t but been matched at scale by anybody else.
For reference, Apple’s first self-developed A4 chip was constructed on a 45nm course of, whereas the A13 processor used inside iPhone 11 is a 7nm design. We know that TSMC is moving into position to produce 3nm chips by around 2022-2024.
Jolly good, but so what?
The “so what” is that these chips promise new realms of performance, much lower power requirements and – while making their debut in the iPad Air – will very likely also be inside the iPhone 12 and future Apple Silicon Macs.
That means that what these processors can do is important not just for the iPad Air, but across all Apple’s platforms. As enterprises migrate to Apple devices, it matters.
First, I’ve extracted all the technical specifications I can find from Apple’s detailed hardware info:
- 5nm process chip, which means more transistors in the same space.
- 8 billion transistors.
- A new 6-core CPU with four high-efficiency and two high-performance cores.
- A CPU that delivers a 40% boost in CPU performance in contrast to the A12 chip inside the previous iPad Air.
- A new 4-core graphics architecture for a 30% improvement in graphics in contrast to the previous iPad Air.
- Twice the performance of a standard laptop, which makes this a good system for graphics and video. We’ve known Apple to be developing its own GPUs.
- A 16-core Neural Engine that is twice as fast as before.
- The Neural Engine, built for machine learning (ML), can perform up to 11 trillion operations per second.
- ML accelerators in the CPU that make ML calculations 10 times faster than the previous chip.
- Up to 10 hours of battery life.
When is a comparison not a comparison?
It is worth pointing out that many of the speed comparisons Apple made are in contrast to the A12 processor in the former iPad Air. So how does that compare to Apple’s current A13 series chip?
Anandtech estimates it as around 16% faster than the A13 Bionic, with around an 8.3% increase in GPU performance. That publication states:
“In other areas, Apple is boasting more significant performance jumps such as the new 16-core neural engine which now sports up to 11TOPs inferencing throughput, which is over double the 5TOPs of the A12 and 83% more than the estimated 6TOPs of the A13 neural engine.”
However, it is worth noting Apple to be quite capable of tweaking its chip designs to exploit different hardware pieces.
Think about the A12. That processor family includes the A12Z Bionic and A12X Bionic chips used in different iPad Pro models and the A12 Bionic as used in iPad Air, mini and iPhone XS and XR devices. A glance at Geekbench shows the Z series of that chip delivers significantly higher benchmark scores than the others.
The takeaway here is that Apple can likely still squeeze further performance out of the design, depending on the device it powers. The larger the device, the more speed it can clock as the heat dissipation improves, I suppose.
What we don’t know (yet)
We’d usually anticipate the new processor would appear inside the next-generation iPhone first. That this didn’t happen this year likely reflects a decision made in response to COVID-19 more than anything else.
What we don’t know (yet) is whether this new processor will be deployed inside the first Apple Silicon Macs. The Mac mini systems provided to developers have provided impressive performance and use A12Z chips. Will Apple stick with that processor, deploy A13 chips, or migrate Macs directly to the all-new A14 series? Would it damage public perception of Apple Silicon Macs if it declined to equip them with the all-new processor used in iPads and iPhones, or is this a risk Apple is prepared to take as it attempts to define the boundaries between its sundry hardware product families?
At the same time, for enterprise users, the fact that Macs are about to become cutting edge devices for machine-learning applications at a time when business users are making increasingly large investments in data analytics systems means the processor inside the iPad Air demands attention.
Not to mention the fact that at this price, iPad Air 4 seems like a useful enterprise tool in its own right. These things have ML inside, not Intel.
It remains to be seen if this will be a good thing.
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