‘The Reluctant Debut of the A14 Processor’

Jason Snell, writing at Six Colors:

But all of those figures compare the A14 in the iPad Air to the A12 processor in the previous model, not the A13 processor found in the iPhone 11 series. Now, Apple would likely claim that it’s only fair to make a comparison across devices with similar screen sizes and thermal characteristics. But in scrupulously adhering to the comparisons to the A12, Apple is not telling us how much faster the base A14 processor — likely the foundation of the next generation of iPad Pro models and possibly even the first round of Macs running Apple Silicon — is compared to its immediate predecessor.

I don’t think Apple’s doing this because it’s not proud of the A14. (On the contrary, Apple seems very aware of how important this chip is, including the fact that it’s Apple’s first to be manufactured using Taiwan Semiconductor’s new 5-nanometer process.) No, this is about leaving some space for Apple’s forthcoming iPhone launch event to boast a bit more about the A14. Which makes sense. The iPhone is Apple’s most important product. It deserves to be boasted about a bit.

It was really conspicuous that Apple would only offer performance comparisons to the A12, ostensibly because that’s the SoC in the previous generation iPad Air, and so they felt it fair to compare iPad to iPad. But we know, from 10 years of experience, that the performance characteristics of an A-whatever in an iPad are very similar to the performance characteristics of the same A-whatever in iPhones. The X and Z suffix chips — like the A12X and A12Z — are different, and to date, have only appeared in iPad Pros in recent years, and prior to that, only in high-end iPads before there were “iPad Pros”. But the no-suffix A14 in the new iPad Air is almost certainly effectively identical to the A14 we’ll see next month in this year’s new iPhones. I truly wonder if that’s the only reason Apple isn’t shipping new iPad Airs yet — to keep A14 performance under wraps for the iPhone event.

Friday, 18 September 2020