Report shows more detail on origin and capabilities of A11 Bionic chip

Forget the stunning iPhone X screen or the beautiful glass back of the iPhones 8/8 Plus. Of all the elements introduced in Apple's latest keynote regarding their smartphones, none is as decisive for the future as the chip. A11 Bionic that equips them. The new processor, in addition to enabling all of Apple's new bets on augmented reality and face recognition, also represents Ma's almost total independence from partners, almost all of its elements were designed by the company itself.

Now an issue of Mashable brought new information about the chip and clarified some interesting points about its development process. The report also incorporates an interview with Apple's senior vice president of global marketing, Phil Schiller, and senior vice president of hardware technology, Johny Srouji, which offers a closer look at the events and the engineering team that made the A11 Bionic real.

One of the most interesting parts of the report / interview is about the process of developing Apple's chips. According to the executives, it's only a minimum of three years from the beginning of planning to the premiere of components in prime time, when Apple was announcing iPhones 6/6 Plus with A8 chips, in 2014, the engineering team in Cupertino was already starting to put the first few pieces of A11 Bionic in place.

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Of course, Apple, like the giant company that has very different teams developing the same product simultaneously while one engineering team is creating the A11 chip, another software is working on augmented reality technologies and another hardware is designing the screen. End-to-end OLED. All of these teams, of course, need to have a synergy for everything to be at one point at some point. As the subject stated:

Teams like Schiller's marketing group and screen team come to Srouji with orders, essentially ideas of what they think they'll need in three years (“how can we implement a Super Retina display?”).

"The process is susceptible to change," said Srouji, who has been with Apple since the first iPhone. If a team arrives with a request that was not part of the original plan, “we need to make it happen. We don't say no, let me get back to my planning and in five years I'll give you something. ”

Schiller and Srouji didn't make specific requests, but Schiller admitted: “There have been some critical things in recent years when we asked Johny's team to do something on a different plan, on a different plan than they were years ago, and they have moved heaven and land to do it, and that's amazing to see. ”

With regard to the A11 Bionic specifically, the chip brings several punctual developments compared to its predecessor, the A10 Fusion, but also some totally new and developed aspects from scratch. For example, the component can now perform asymmetric multiprocesses, meaning activating anything from just one to all six cores simultaneously saving the device's battery and improving its performance.

O Neural engine part of the chip responsible for artificial intelligence tasks and the new graphics engine are also totally new; This is, in fact, Apple's first attempt to build a graphics processor after the noisy disruption with Imagination Technologies. Srouji stated that Apple's attitude of increasingly designing its own solutions is extremely beneficial:

If you look at our SoC, CPU, ISP, screen, all the places where we believe we can differentiate ourselves and deliver optimal value for Apple, we go there and do this thing. We did it consistently for 30 years.

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In relation to Neural engineSchiller made it clear that Apple has a very specific use ratio for the coprocessor, the idea being to prevent developers who want to use the component from using it for a very specific amount of tasks, so as not to overload it. It is possible, for example, to use the engine for speech and facial recognition technologies, but not much further.

Speaking of Apple's past / future chip development, Srouji stated that the breakthrough: ten years ago, the company was making processors with 100 million transistors in a 65-nanometer process, while today chips with 4.3 billion transistors are being produced. in a 10 nanometer process. He said his "world-class" team is, when asked about the next frontier, that silicon is beginning to signal physical limits and large companies are already looking for an alternative, such as quantum computing, to:

We are thinking ahead. I can tell you that, and I don't think we'll be limited. It's getting hard.