In September 2021, Apple released their Bionic A15 chip. Soon after, the chip was dubbed the most powerful chip on the market. In June 2020, Apple announced I its WorldWide Developer Conference that it would switch from Intel processors and, after equipping its Mac computers with the M1 chip, the brand worked on a chip for its mobile devices! The A15 Bionic A15 chip is the descendant of Bionic A11 which equipped the iPhone 8 series. It powers the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series, as well as the iPhone SE 3rd generation and iPad mini. All of which show advanced performances namely in photography and multimedia usage. In this blog, we’ll go over the design, the assembly and the software that make it such a prominent piece.
The 6 cores architecture
The Apple Bionic A15 chip is part of the Silicon series. These are System on a Chip (SoC) and System in a Package (SiP) components using ARM architecture. It is a 64 bit six-core CPU featuring two high-performance cores (called Avalanche) and four energy-efficient cores (called Blizzard). Equipped with 15 billion transistors, the chip holds more than twice the number of transistors than its predecessor, the A14 chip. Combined to Apple’s Neural Engine, the chip is at least 50% faster and more efficient than any other processor on the market for mobile devices.
The 5 nano-meter technology
For their A15 chip, Apple is using its 5nm technology, which succeeds the 7nm protocol. The technology has been used for some time now by TSMC (Apple’s chip manufacturer) and allows to miniaturize microprocessors up to a size of 5 nanometers (one nanometer being equal to a billionth of a meter), which means there can be more microprocessors in a given space… Meaning a significant increase in computing power.
Thanks to this technology, the A15 chip includes no less than 15 billion transistors. Each transistors play a very important role in processing and storing data. In other words, the more, the better. As a matter of facts, more transistors will be able to store more data and process it faster. As a point of reference, the number of transistors on the A14 chip was 11.8 billion.
The neural engine
Beyond hardware capacities, Apple’s real strength lies (once again) in its software. In 2017, Apple launched its A11 chip which embedded the first Neural Engine. Thanks to this piece of software, the hardware was able to power advanced algorithms for facial recognition, create custom emojis based of users’ facial expressions etc. Since then, and combined with the 5 nanometers technology, the Neural Engine has grown in capacities. In the A15, the Neural Engine has 16 dedicated cores. It scores specifically high in the field of Artificial Intelligence and it can now perform 15.8 trillion operations per second. Which its Machine Learning (ML) model being trained by 20 millions images, the software is particularly efficient in image processing (from which the camera app benefit directly).
With the A15 chip, Apple laid out solid bases for its next innovations. By enhancing the chip assembly technology, they’re working at bridging the gap between hardware and software, by extending the capabilities of the latter. This allowing for a richer and more powerful iOS platform. As a matter of fact, the A15 chip is the foundation that paved the way for future generations of micro-processors.