Apple failed in attempt to develop next-gen GPU for iPhone 14 Pro series

Apple failed in attempt to develop next-gen GPU for iPhone 14 Pro series
A report by The Information (via 9to5Google) claims that Apple was working on a next-generation graphics process unit (GPU) for the iPhone 14 Pro series. The engineers working on the GPU bit off more than they could chew and the early prototypes required more power than expected based on software simulations run by Apple.

Two sources who had direct knowledge of what went on at Apple said that the prototype version of the chip drew too much power from the batteries found inside the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Additionally, these prototype GPUs also made the handsets run too hot. But four sources familiar with the situation said that the issues were discovered too late in the GPU's development process; this forced Apple to base the new GPU integrated with the A16 Bionic SoC on the design of last year's graphic processing component.

The next-gen GPU would have included advanced capabilities such as hardware-accelerated ray tracing which helps create realistic-looking shadows by realistically portraying the way light can reflect and refract. This extra bit of realism can help take mobile games to another level. But instead, the GPU used on the iPhone 14 Pro models doesn't take the huge step forward that Apple originally intended it to. The Information calls this failure "unprecedented in the group’s history."

This comes after Apple's failure to get around a pair of Qualcomm patents will result in the San Diego-based chip designer having a 100% share of all 5G modem chips used on next year's iPhone 15 line. Originally, Apple hoped to employ 5G modem chips that it designed itself on 80% of 2023 iPhone 15 units leaving Qualcomm with only a 20% slice of the iPhone pie. But Qualcomm's patents mean that it will continue to supply Apple with all of the 5G modems to be used in the 2023 iPhone lineup.

Apple's chip designing unit hasn't faced too many bumps in the road, so when they occur it is big news. Besides not being able to develop the next-gen GPU and its own 5G modem (for different reasons as we've noted), Apple has continued to face the exodus of several top designers and engineers.

When Gerard Williams III, the company's top CPU designer at the time, took a powder in 2019 to start his own company, he was replaced at Apple by Mike Fillipo. The latter reportedly did not get along with engineers and left to join Microsoft. And while this is obviously a key position, Apple has not yet found a replacement. The unit is headed by Johny Srouji who has the title of Senior Vice President, Hardware Technology at Apple.

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