Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max

  • Quick take: The Apple A17 Pro chip debuts in iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, setting a new standard for mobile computing with a 3nm process, 19 billion transistors and breakthrough GPU capabilities.
  • Core insights: A17 Pro not only delivers unparalleled CPU performance, but also introduces a revolutionary GPU that has a major impact on the mobile gaming space.
  • What’s next: With the A17 Pro’s advanced architecture and features, we expect more console-quality games to be played on mobile devices, and likely greater adoption of the iPhone in professional environments that require high-speed data transfer and computing power.

Apple A17 Pro is the first 3nm chip, laying the foundation for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. The chip has an impressive 19 billion transistors and a 6-core CPU, delivering unparalleled performance.

Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro
Apple A17 Pro launches breakthrough GPU with novel custom shader architecture (Image source)

Apple A17 Pro GPU

Equipped with two high-performance cores (which Apple calls the “fastest mobile CPU”), the CPU is 10% more powerful than its predecessor. In addition, four high-efficiency cores complement these powerful features. The chip also features a 16-core Neural Engine that can handle up to 35 trillion operations per second, adding another layer of speed to its feature list.

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But that’s not all. A17 Pro introduces a breakthrough GPU with a novel custom shader architecture. Apple says this is the most significant shift in the company’s GPU technology.

The GPU has 6 cores and offers performance improvements of up to 20% compared to the previous version. The GPU supports advanced features such as mesh shading and hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The ray tracing feature is an astonishing four times faster than the software-based alternative in the A16 Bionic. Additionally, the GPU and Neural Engine team up to provide enhanced upgrade capabilities.

Game Advantage

The GPU in the Apple A17 Pro has been hailed as a game changer in mobile gaming. This powerful chip caught the attention of developers, who demonstrated stunning graphics improvements in games. Games originally designed for consoles and PC, such as Resident Evil Village and Resident Evil 4 Remake, will soon run on iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Other major games such as The Division: Rising Stars and Genshin Impact were also showcased, and Ubisoft also announced plans to bring Assassin’s Creed: Phantoms to iPhone in 2024.

For high-speed data transfer, the A17 Pro integrates a USB 3 controller that supports speeds up to 10 Gbps. This feature goes beyond the USB Type-C port on non-Pro models, making it ideal for quickly transferring professional-grade video to your Mac or recording directly to external storage. It also offers 4K60 ProRes support.

Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro
The GPU in Apple A17 Pro is hailed as a game changer in mobile gaming (Image source)

In addition to its capabilities, the chip also includes a second-generation ultra-wideband unit that improves the accuracy of the Find My app and location sharing features.

The iPhone 15 Pro and its larger sibling, the Pro Max, also continue to advance in terms of manufacturing materials. Apple chose to use grade 5 titanium instead of stainless steel, promising a lighter body.

The phones will also have the thinnest bezels on an iPhone, allowing for a more compact design without compromising screen size. Pro models will feature new customizable action buttons in place of the traditional silent switch, giving users the flexibility to launch apps, activate the camera, or use other shortcuts at their disposal.

Feature comparison Apple A17 Pro Apple A16 Bionic
Semiconductor manufacturing 3nm 4nm
Number of transistors 19 billion 16 billion
CPU core configuration 6 (2 high performance, 4 high efficiency) 6 (2 high performance, 4 high efficiency)
Number of GPU cores 6 5
neural core count 16 16
Operations per second (Neural Engine) 35 trillion 17 trillion

Powered by Apple’s A17 Pro chip, the iPhone 15 Pro brings an improved camera system that is sure to excite photography enthusiasts. The main camera is a 48MP sensor with an aperture of f/1.78, capable of shooting at different focal lengths (24mm, 28mm and 35mm) in 48MP HEIF.

Additionally, the Pro model also comes with a new 12MP 3x telephoto lens. The iPhone 15 Pro Max goes a step further and offers a 5x zoom option due to its larger form factor. The sensor in the telephoto lens of both models is twice the size of the iPhone 14 Pro, improving image quality.

Image stabilization has also been upgraded. The iPhone 15 Pro Max has three-axis optical image stabilization that can fine-tune 10,000 times per second, while the iPhone 15 Pro uses a still respectable two-axis system. Night mode photography has also been improved thanks to the new 12MP ultra-wide-angle camera.

Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 Pro, powered by the Apple A17 Pro chip, brings an improved camera system (Image source)

Another interesting feature is the ability to shoot 3D videos using the ultra-wide-angle camera and the main camera. This will be integrated into Apple Vision Pro, although it won’t be available at launch and will be available in a later iOS 17 update.

In terms of pricing, the iPhone 15 Pro 128GB model starts at $999, maintaining last year’s pricing strategy. The iPhone 15 Pro Max starts at $1,199 for the 256GB model. Pre-orders will begin this Friday and the phones will be officially available on September 22.

Apple A16 Bionic powers new iPhone 15 and 15 Plus models

iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are equipped with the Apple A16 Bionic chip, providing stable performance and an updated camera system. These models follow the design of the iPhone 14 and are available in a variety of colors: pink, yellow, green, blue or black, and with 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch displays. Apple has ported the Dynamic Island feature from iPhone 14 Pro to these new displays to enhance the viewing experience.

Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro
iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus are equipped with Apple A16 Bionic chip for stable performance (image source)

The camera system is brand new, with a 48MP main camera with a focal length of 26mm and an aperture of f/1.6. Under the hood, the devices are powered by the A16 Bionic chip, which features two high-performance cores, four efficiency cores, and a 5-core GPU. Enhanced connectivity is also provided thanks to the second-generation ultra-wideband chip, which allows improved remote connections between devices using the same technology.

While MagSafe and Qi 2 wireless options are still available, USB Type-C is now the first data transfer and charging standard port for Apple’s mainstream phones. The USB-C standard will also be extended to the next-generation AirPods Pro, and even the EarPods will see a USB-C variant. You’ll be able to charge your AirPods or Apple Watch directly from your new iPhone. The iPhone 15 starts at $799, and the iPhone 15 Plus starts at $899.

S9 SiP powers new Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are both equipped with the newly launched S9 SiP, marking a new era of wearable technology. The S9 SiP features an impressive 5.6 billion transistors and a 30% faster GPU than its predecessor, the S8. It also integrates a quad-core neural engine to handle more Siri requests directly on the watch.

Apple A17 Pro GPU: Powering iPhone 15 Pro
Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 both feature the newly launched S9 SiP, marking a new era of wearable technology (Image source)

Series 9 battery life remains at 18 hours, consistent with Apple’s previous products. Neural Core introduces an innovative “double-tap” gesture that allows users to trigger an app’s home button by tapping their thumb and middle finger simultaneously—a handy feature when the other hand is busy. In addition, the S9 SiP also includes a second-generation ultra-wideband chip for precise location tracking, a feature also present in the iPhone 15.

The Apple Watch Series 9 starts at $399, and the Ultra 2 starts at $799. Pre-orders are now open, and the watch will go on sale on September 22.

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