If you think Apple was going to stop at producing its own CPUs, then you have another thing coming. As spotted by @chiakokhua, Chinese publication Commercial Times reported that the U.S. tech giant is presently working on its in-house GPUs as well with a planned launch in the second half of 2021.
The upcoming GPUs, reportedly codename Lifuka, is part of the Apple Silicon project and will leverage TSMC’s 5nm process node as well. The report claims that Lifuka’s development is going smoothly. The GPU reportedly promises higher computing performance and improved performance per watt over other GPUs, but a more detailed comparison wasn’t given.
Apple has always prided itself for its ecosystem. The tech giant already employs home-made CPUs in the majority of its devices, such as the iPad, iPhone or Apple Watch. Apple Silicon represented another step for Apple towards self-sufficiency and to stop depending on Intel for CPUs. While Apple was a fan of Intel CPUs, the company was more faithful to AMD in regards of GPUs. With Lifuka, it looks like AMD will ultimately lose some of Apple’s GPU business.
According to Commercial Times’ sources, Lifuka will come with Tile-Based Deferred Rendering (TBDR) technology. TBDR is the same technology that’s present in Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR GPUs, which Apple used in its A4 chip from 2010 to 2017. Earlier this year, Apple rekindled its relationship with Imagination Technologies with a multi-year deal that would allow Apple access to the British chip designer’s intellectual property. It appears that the hookup between the two companies was part of Apple’s plan to exploit Imagination Technologies’ expertise for its own GPUs.
As per the report, development on Apple’s A14X processor is done, and TSMC will start mass-producing them for Apple before the end of this year. The time frame coincides with TSMC’s update on the 5nm process node on how it’s currently in the process of high volume manufacturing. If Commercial Times’ information is accurate, Lifuka will debut in the new iMac some time in the second half of 2021.
Due to the imposed U.S. regulations, TSMC stopped accepting orders from Huawei. Commercial Time asserts that the Apple has already gobbled up the vacated 5nm capacity that Huawei left behind. There’s no doubt that some of that capacity is reserved for Lifuka.