Tags ‘A6’

Opinion: What to expect from Apple’s A9 chip

A9

Less than a month from now, Apple is expected to officially unveil its new A9 chip. This will be the ninth A-Series processor including the original A4, which powered the first iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and second-generation Apple TV. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the A-series chips to Apple’s devices, as they’ve helped the company to achieve everything from major processing leaps to impressive power efficiency and — often taken for granted — guaranteed UI smoothness for every year’s newly-launched devices.

With the iPhone 6S just around the corner, we’ve started to receive tips purporting to reveal how much better the A9 will perform than the A8 processors found in the latest iPhones, iPad Air 2, and iPod touch. While we wouldn’t characterize the numbers we’ve seen as reliable, they led us to look back at the history of A-series chips, and consider what can reasonably be expected from the A9. Read on for our thoughts…

How Each Year’s A-Series Chips Have Progressed

Most of the time, Apple introduces two new A-series chips in a year — for instance, the A5 for iPhones and the A5X for iPads, which were followed by the A6 for iPhones and the A6X for iPads. Every year’s chips improve on the prior versions, with slightly different priorities for the iPad and iPhone. The iPhone version is designed to be more energy-efficient and at least a little less powerful, while the iPad version generally runs faster and has more power, offset somewhat by the need to drive a higher-resolution screen.

Processor: Single-Core Score: Multi-Core Score:
A4 211 211
A5 220 415
A5X 267 503
A6 708 1272
A6X 768 1399
A7 1.3 (iPhone) 1354 2500
A7 1.4 (iPad) 1467 2652
A8 1610 2890
A8X 1808 4526

As the table above shows, each year’s upgrades vary considerably in performance jumps, but one thing’s constant: every new flagship iPhone’s A_ processor is a step better than the last flagship iPad’s A_X processor. The A6 offered huge performance jumps over the A5X, and the 64-bit A7 did the same relative to the 32-bit A6X. By contrast, the A8 respectably outperformed the faster iPad version of the A7, though there wasn’t an A7X to compare against.

9to56SBoard

What Will The A9 Be Like?

We’ve already seen photos of the A9 processor on an early iPhone 6S motherboard, and superficially, it doesn’t look much different than the A8. But under the dark gray exterior, a lot has changed under the hood. Apple’s chip partners have moved from a 20-nanometer process to 14/16-nanometer FinFET manufacturing, enabling the A9 to squeeze even more transistors into the same surface area. This will let the A9 offer greater performance and improved power efficiency at roughly the same size as the A8.

An unsubstantiated tip suggests that the A9 inside the iPhone 6S achieved a Geekbench single-core score of 1921 points, and a multi-core score of 4873 points. For single-core performance, this would be a roughly 19% jump over the A8, and a 6% improvement over the A8X, versus a nearly 69% multi-core jump over the A8 and almost 8% over the A8X. (Note that the A9’s purported single-core improvement would be nearly identical to the A7 to A8 jump, and around 4.4 times larger than the A7 to A8 multi-core improvement.)

These numbers could be completely fabricated, which is why we haven’t run them in a news story. But they are in line with changes we’ve seen from Apple each year, and as such, a reasonable basis for contemplating what’s likely to actually happen. Again, as the table above suggests, there has never been a flagship iPhone that scored lower on Geekbench’s single-core or multi-core tests than the prior year’s flagship iPad. If there was going to be a first year for that to happen, it could easily be this year, as the A8X’s multi-core score is dramatically higher than the A8’s, thanks to both a third processing core and a faster clock speed.

To beat the A8X in both categories, the A9 would need to evolve from a dual-core processor to at least a triple-core processor — achieving a multi-core score superior to the A8X with a dual-core A9 would be virtually impossible. So it’s interesting that the purported multi-core score of 4873 is right in line with what we’d expect from a triple-core A9 with a single-core score of 1921. However, the same tipster claims that the A9 will feature two 1.7GHz cores and two 1.2GHz cores. It’s possible that Apple’s design does use two faster cores and two slower ones to achieve a comparable top speed to a triple-core design, while switching between cores as necessary to conserve power. That’s the type of compelling energy-efficient innovation Apple would be proud to unveil.

What Does All Of This Mean?

It’s possible that the next iPhone’s chip will fall below last year’s flagship iPad in performance, but Apple’s chipmaking history suggests that’s unlikely. As a result, we’d expect to see the iPhone 6S sporting some major performance gains over the iPhone 6. The extra power could be used for even more impressive games, processing 4K video, and running apps that are even closer to OS X-class. If the A9 matches or comes close to the numbers above, it will be in the same league as 2009 iMacs, 2010 MacBook Pros and 2011 MacBook Airs, all of which are still viable computers. Yet the iPhone will be profoundly more power-efficient, and unlike any of those Macs, capable of fitting in your pocket without any cooling fans.

This also bodes well for the A9X, which has reportedly been under development alongside the A9. If Apple follows its normal pattern, the next iPad will be on par with entry-level 2010-2011 iMacs, and quite possibly a step better than the entry-level 2015 12″ Retina MacBook. The key question will be whether Apple aims to close the performance gap between its tablets and laptops, or continues to limit the next iPad’s performance in the name of conserving battery life.

More From This Author

Check out more of my editorials, How-To guides, and reviews for 9to5Mac here! I’ve covered a lot of different topics of interest to Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple Watch users.


Filed under: iOS Devices, Opinion Tagged: A6, a7, A8, A8X, a9, Apple, Chips, iPad, iPhone, iphone 6s, iphone 6s plus, processors

For more information about iOS Devices, Apple, and iPhone continue reading at 9to5Mac.

What do you think? Discuss "Opinion: What to expect from Apple’s A9 chip" with our community.

Comments Off on Opinion: What to expect from Apple’s A9 chip

Photo

Jeremy Horwitz

August 14th

Apple

Mac

Apple’s New A7 Processor Has Crazy Graphics, Also a Motion Sensing Chip


Comments Off on Apple’s New A7 Processor Has Crazy Graphics, Also a Motion Sensing Chip

Photo

Mario Aguilar

September 10th

Apple

Mobile

Apple’s New A7 Processor Has Crazy Graphics, Also a Motion Sensing Chip


Comments Off on Apple’s New A7 Processor Has Crazy Graphics, Also a Motion Sensing Chip

Photo

Mario Aguilar

September 10th

Apple

Mobile

Apple’s New, Colorful iPhone 5C Is Full of iPhone 5 Guts

Comments Off on Apple’s New, Colorful iPhone 5C Is Full of iPhone 5 Guts

Photo

Ashley Feinberg

September 10th

Apple

Mobile

Apple’s New, Colorful iPhone 5C Is Full of iPhone 5 Guts

Comments Off on Apple’s New, Colorful iPhone 5C Is Full of iPhone 5 Guts

Photo

Ashley Feinberg

September 10th

Apple

Mobile

‘iPhone 5S’, cheaper iPhone to come in multiple new colors, July announcement?

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 5.49.27 PM

According to Macotakara, new colors will be one of the more visible features of Apple’s next-generation iPhone models. According to a new report from the Japanese website, Apple’s iPhone 5 successor, already dubbed by some as the “iPhone 5S,” will come in three additional colors on top of the already existing black/slate and white/silver designs found on the iPhone 5.

It seems that it will have gossiped if the 5-color lineup of low-priced edition iPhone is carried out until now, but iPhone 5S may be 3 colors added to 2 colors of iPhone 5 1 color somehow. However, the informed sources did not tell about the kind of detailed color.

The site also claims that Apple’s already-rumored cheaper iPhone will come in five colors, but the report does not specify if this is five colors in addition to the black and white models or including the black and white options. Multiple analyst reports have previously claimed that Apple’s next iPhones will likely come in new colors.

Today’s report also does not specify what these new colors will be. It’s possible that the colors of the fifth-generation iPod touch, which already shares several design characteristics with the iPhone, could hold the answer. Apple sells the current iPod touch in yellow, pink, blue, silver, black, and in a Product(RED) variant.

The report also corroborates previous claims of an August release for the “iPhone 5S,” but the report adds that the announcement will come at some point in July. If the next iPhone is in fact an “S” update, we would expect other features to include a faster processor and an improved camera system. A fingerprint sensor has also been rumored based on Apple’s Authentec acquisition.

Macotakara has a mixed track record. The site previously correctly predicted some Apple device design details, but the site recently missed with claims of iPad updates in March.

Earlier today, we announced a giveaway with AnoStyle for a color-anodized iPhone 5.


Comments Off on ‘iPhone 5S’, cheaper iPhone to come in multiple new colors, July announcement?

Photo

Mark Gurman

April 9th

Apple

Mac

Apple Might Introduce a Better iPad 3 with a Lightning Adapter Next Week

We've seen evidence of a faster iPad 3 using the Apple A6 processor before and now 9to5Mac is reporting that Apple will announce a "refreshed version" of the full sized, 9.7-inch iPad with Retina Display at next week's event. It looks like we might be getting a new updated iPad sooner than we thought. More »


Comments Off on Apple Might Introduce a Better iPad 3 with a Lightning Adapter Next Week

Photo

Casey Chan

October 20th

Apple

Samsung Gets Bigger Payday From Apple’s A6 Processor Production, But Kept Out Of Design

Apple_A6_Chip

Apple and Samsung depend heavily on one another, despite the fact that they’re also at each other’s throats in intellectual property legal disputes around the world. But Apple is looking to reduce Samsung’s role in the manufacturing and design side of its business, in a move that could have greater long-term repercussions for the Korean electronics giant than for the iPhone maker.

The Korea Times reported this weekend that Samsung will no longer be involved in any part of its chip business other than manufacturing, according to a Samsung official who spoke to the publication on condition of anonymity. Previously, Samsung has been somewhat involved on the design side, too, the official said, but now it’s operating strictly on a “foundry basis,” with Apple exclusively handling any and all design duties. That’s in keeping with what teardowns have shown of the chip, which seems to leverage Apple’s chip design-focused acquisitions to create its first truly in-house created system-on-a-chip with the A6 processor that powers the iPhone 5.

It’s also in keeping with another move Apple made recently; namely, the decision to drop Google from its platform as a partner for native apps like YouTube and Maps. Apple seems eager to reclaim control of its platform and hardware from its biggest rivals in the smartphone space, those being Samsung on the hardware side and Google in terms of mobile OS. Of course, cutting the cord has repercussions, as we’ve seen with the blowback from the maps debacle that led to a public apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple recently poached one of Samsung’s top chip designers, and the company has also been apparently grooming Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) for taking over more production of its processors following the A6. Apple has the resources to lift up Samsung’s chip foundry competition, but it’ll take time – Samsung is still one of the few companies in the world who can handle the kind of volume manufacturing Apple requires to keep its stock of mobile devices flowing to store shelves, and probably the only one that can currently handle its chip foundry needs.

Samsung sold around $7.8 billion worth of components to Apple in 2011, according to one report. And production of the A6 for the iPhone 5 will reportedly bring in more money for the Korean company than any of Apple’s previous processors, but necessity seems to be driving that continued relationship, and Apple is clearly looking for ways around its dependence on its biggest rival. Apple has the luxury of being able to wait until the time is right to switch elsewhere for its chipmaking needs, at which point Samsung will take a big cut in its supply-side business. Now that Apple’s taken the reins with chip design, we’ll see how long it takes for that other shoe to drop.


Comments Off on Samsung Gets Bigger Payday From Apple’s A6 Processor Production, But Kept Out Of Design

Photo

Darrell Etherington

October 15th

Apple

Gadgets

Mobile

Samsung Gets Bigger Payday From Apple’s A6 Processor Production, But Kept Out Of Design

Apple_A6_Chip

Apple and Samsung depend heavily on one another, despite the fact that they’re also at each other’s throats in intellectual property legal disputes around the world. But Apple is looking to reduce Samsung’s role in the manufacturing and design side of its business, in a move that could have greater long-term repercussions for the Korean electronics giant than for the iPhone maker.

The Korea Times reported this weekend that Samsung will no longer be involved in any part of its chip business other than manufacturing, according to a Samsung official who spoke to the publication on condition of anonymity. Previously, Samsung has been somewhat involved on the design side, too, the official said, but now it’s operating strictly on a “foundry basis,” with Apple exclusively handling any and all design duties. That’s in keeping with what teardowns have shown of the chip, which seems to leverage Apple’s chip design-focused acquisitions to create its first truly in-house created system-on-a-chip with the A6 processor that powers the iPhone 5.

It’s also in keeping with another move Apple made recently; namely, the decision to drop Google from its platform as a partner for native apps like YouTube and Maps. Apple seems eager to reclaim control of its platform and hardware from its biggest rivals in the smartphone space, those being Samsung on the hardware side and Google in terms of mobile OS. Of course, cutting the cord has repercussions, as we’ve seen with the blowback from the maps debacle that led to a public apology from Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple recently poached one of Samsung’s top chip designers, and the company has also been apparently grooming Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) for taking over more production of its processors following the A6. Apple has the resources to lift up Samsung’s chip foundry competition, but it’ll take time – Samsung is still one of the few companies in the world who can handle the kind of volume manufacturing Apple requires to keep its stock of mobile devices flowing to store shelves, and probably the only one that can currently handle its chip foundry needs.

Samsung sold around $7.8 billion worth of components to Apple in 2011, according to one report. And production of the A6 for the iPhone 5 will reportedly bring in more money for the Korean company than any of Apple’s previous processors, but necessity seems to be driving that continued relationship, and Apple is clearly looking for ways around its dependence on its biggest rival. Apple has the luxury of being able to wait until the time is right to switch elsewhere for its chipmaking needs, at which point Samsung will take a big cut in its supply-side business. Now that Apple’s taken the reins with chip design, we’ll see how long it takes for that other shoe to drop.


Comments Off on Samsung Gets Bigger Payday From Apple’s A6 Processor Production, But Kept Out Of Design

Photo

Darrell Etherington

October 15th

Apple

Gadgets

Mobile

Report: Apple to utilize TSMC’s 20nm quad-core chips for new products over next few years

Chinese Economic News Service (via MacRumors) is citing Citigroup Global Markets analyst J.T. Hsu today as claiming Apple will make the switch to TSMC’s 20nm process for quad-core processors over the next couple of years. The rumor is something we have heard several times in the past:

Citigroup Global Markets Inc. estimated Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) to be the only supplier of 20nm process to Apple quad-core processors over the next one to two years, citing the company’s unmatched technological advance on 20nm process and Apple’s decision to adopt 20nm quad-core processors in its new products…Apple began verifying TSMC’s 20nm process in August this year and may begin risk production in November with the process. Volume production is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2013, raising the possibility that TSMC will hike capital expenditure to US$11-12 billion in 2013 and 2014.

According to Hsu, Apple will utilize the processors in iPad, “iTV” (Apple TV?), and MacBooks, while iPhone’s will remain with duo-core chips:

Hsu estimated Apple to design quad-core processors into iPad, iTV and even Macbook. iPhones will be still powered by duo-core processors to highlight its low power consumption merit… Apple’s contracts have been widely criticized for low margin to contract suppliers, likely the reason why TSMC has been reluctant to compete for Apple contracts. But Hsu thinks otherwise, estimating Apple’s quad-core chip, cost at around US$15, could be 10% cheaper once it is made by Taiwan’s supply chains involving TSMC, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering Inc. (ASE), and Kinsus Interconnect Technology Corp.,

In August, Bloomberg reported both Apple and Qualcomm failed to obtain exclusive chip production rights from TSMC after putting up over $1 billion in bids. Samsung also recently made big investments in its new Austin, Texas plant manufacturing chips for iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products, indicating multi-year contracts are likely in place.



Comments Off on Report: Apple to utilize TSMC’s 20nm quad-core chips for new products over next few years

Photo

Jordan Kahn

October 12th

Apple

Mac
line
December 2016
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031