Apple’s A14 SoC Under the Microscope: Die Size & Transistor Density Revealed

ICmasters, a semiconductor reverse engineering and IP services company, has done a preliminary examination of Apple’s A14 Bionic system-on-chip (SoC) using a transmission electron microscopy (TEM). As written by semianalysis, the analysts at ICmasters revealed die size and transistor density of the SoC. Such details expose capabilities of process technologies and some aspects about priorities of chip designers. But can a die shot of Apple’s A14 give any idea about what to expect from the company’s upcoming processors for notebooks and desktops?

Apple’s A14 Bionic: A 88-mm2 Power House

Apple’s A14 Bionic SoC consists of 11.8 billion transistors and is made using TSMC’s N5 (5nm) process technology. The chip packs six general-purpose processing cores consisting of two high-performance FireStorm cores and four IceStorm cores. A quad-cluster GPU, 16-core neural engine with 11 TOPS performance, and a variety of special-purpose accelerators completes the SoC.

The A14 Bionic processor has a die size of 88 mm2, down from 98.48 mm2 in case of the A13 Bionic. The quality of the image is not exactly high, but with a use of rough napkin math we can gather that the dual-core FireStorm complex with a big L2 cache is around 9.1 mm2, the quad-core IceStorm complex with a small L2 cache is approximately 6.44 mm2, whereas the GPU occupies about 11.65 mm2. We know that Apple has used unified system cache in the recent years, but it is not easy to find it on the image. 

(Image credit: SemiAnalysys/ICmasters)

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