Apple's insistence on a custom design of chips such as the Neural Engine in the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR is about unleashing the other designers of the company, according to the leadership of its chip architects.
"It's about having the pieces that are critical and do not let anything get in the way," said VP Tim Millet Wired in an interview published on Tuesday. "The experiences we provide over the phone are critically dependent on the chip."
Work on the first generation Neural Engine, which appeared in the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X, reportedly began a few years ago with photography in mind. Engineers at the company thought that iPhone cameras could be improved through machine learning, and some of the first results were the Portrait Lighting and Face ID technologies of 2017.
"We could not have done that [Face ID] without the neural motor, & # 39; said Millet.
The Neural Engine of the second generation in 2018 iPhones can perform 5 trillion operations per second and helps to provide more photo-related functions, such as the ability to control the depth of field after a photo is taken, and a better augmented reality. Apple also opens the chip for use by third-party developers.
Most non-Apple smartphones use standard chip designs from companies such as Qualcomm. Although powerful and steadily progressing, Apple's internal design has made it possible to build tight hardware / software integration and achieve functions that would otherwise have to wait.
Apple has designed custom chips since the A4 processor that was used in the iPhone 4 of 2010, after the acquisition of PA Semi. The actual production was handled by Samsung for some time, but is now considered the exclusive domain of TSMC.
The use of custom designs has more to offer than the central processors for things like the T2 chip that processes things like the Touch Bar and SSDs in Macs. Some external chips remain, such as mobile and wifi.