OPINION: I know, the ins and out of chips aren’t the most exciting aspect of a new phone launch but the A17 Pro presented some exciting new boosts and features. What’s even more exciting is what it could mean for Apple M3 devices down the line.
In layman’s terms, such a change typically means boosted performance and efficiency, with the latter adding up to enhanced battery life. That’s the basics but the A17 Pro brings some new features too and, with the Apple M3 chip for Macs and iPad Pro devices expected to also shift down to a 3nm process, there are some exciting cues you can take from the A17 Pro.
First off, there is the raw power. Compared with its 4nm A16 Bionic predecessor, the A17 Pro offers up 3 billion extra transistors. This adds up to a 10% increase in CPU performance and a 20% increase in GPU power. The Apple M2 range is already producing some of the best devices around in terms of performance, especially for the power they consume and their ability to perform to their maximum on the go. If the M3 chips get a similar boost in performance, Apple’s prowess across the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and more is only likely to soar higher.
Apple is also teasing gamers more and more with its offerings. Earlier this year, it began to tinker with making it easier for developments to bring games to MacOS, with the Game Porting Toolkit. If that was intriguing enough for those who have long dreamed of wider, better gaming support on Macs, the A17 Pro brings a feature that you can’t go a day without hearing about in gaming circles. And, that’s hardware-accelerated ray tracing.
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Ray tracing brings enhanced reflections to games, bringing a more realistic experience to your gaming. The A16 Bionic simply used software-based ray tracing but, with the 3nm A17 Pro, hardware-accelerated ray tracing is now onboard, boosting performance by 4 times. This alignment with graphical features seen across other gaming chip manufacturers, like Nvidia and AMD, shows Apple doesn’t just want the basics of gaming on its devices but is aiming to keep pace with the best of them.
Speaking of making games available on Apple devices, another big announcement for the iPhone 15 Pro and its A17 Pro chip was the AAA games it can run. Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 and Death Stranding will all be playable on the device.
However, the most exciting reveal was Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, which isn’t even out yet. Immediately, it made sense to assume this was going to be some stripped-back mobile version of the upcoming title but Apple was keen to stress it’s a “console version”. Admittedly, the ins and outs aren’t clear, it’d still be fair to expect the graphics to be reduced in some fashion.
It’s tantalising to think what this development could mean for devices that will run the Apple M3. The Apple A17 Pro is an Arm chip, just like the M-series found on Macs, so to see a big new game like Assassin’s Creed: Mirage running on this kind of processor only sets the stage for more to follow. Gaming on a Mac feels closer than ever.