Apple failed in its attempt to develop a next-generation GPU for the iPhone 14 Pro series

According to a report from The Information, Apple was working on a next-generation graphics processor (GPU) for the iPhone 14 Pro series. The engineers working on the GPU had their eyes bigger than their stomachs and early prototypes required more power than expected based on software simulations performed by Apple.

Two sources with direct knowledge of what happened at Apple said the prototype version of the chip drew too much power from the batteries in the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max. Additionally, these prototypes have GPUs as well heat up smartphones. But four sources familiar with the situation said the problems were discovered late in the GPU development process, forcing Apple to base the new GPU integrated into the A16 Bionic SoC on the design of the graphics processing component from last year.

The next generation GPU would have included advanced features such as ray tracing hardware-accelerated, which creates realistic shadows by realistically depicting how light can reflect and refract. This extra touch of realism can help take mobile gaming to another level. But instead, the GPU used on the iPhone 14 Pro models doesn’t take the leap that Apple originally intended. The information describing this failure as “unprecedented in the group’s history”.

This announcement comes after Apple’s failure to circumvent a pair of Qualcomm patents. The San Diego-based chip designer will therefore have a 100% share of all 5G modem chips used on next year’s iPhone 15 series. Apple originally hoped to use its proprietary 5G modem chips in 80% of 2023 iPhone 15s, leaving Qualcomm with only a 20% share. But Qualcomm’s patents mean it will continue to supply Apple with all 5G modems that will be used in the 2023 iPhone lineup.

Apple’s chip design unit hasn’t faced many roadblocks, so when they do, it’s big news. In addition to not being able to develop the next-generation GPU and its own 5G modem (for various reasons), Apple continued to deal with the exodus of several top designers and engineers.

When Gerard Williams III, the company’s top CPU designer at the time, left in 2019 to start his own company, he was replaced at Apple by Mike Fillipo. The latter would not have agreed with the engineers and would have left to join Microsoft. And while this is obviously a key position, Apple has yet to find a replacement. The unit is headed by Johny Srouji, who holds the title of senior vice president of hardware technology at Apple.

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