Apple's A7 SoC expected to be 20% more efficient, debut in 'iPhone 5S'

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Along with predictions of a much rumored "iPhone 5S," KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's note to investors on Thursday shed some light on Apple's new A-series system on a chip, expected to be called the "A7."

A6
Apple's A6 chip as seen in an iPhone 5 teardown. | Source: iFixit


With each successive iPhone generation, Apple has introduced a new processor design that trumps the outgoing version in both efficiency and speed. The current A6 used in the iPhone 5 was the first chip completely designed by Apple in-house, and the forthcoming "iPhone 5S" is predicted to build on that architecture with a so-called "A7" SoC.

Kuo believes Apple's upcoming A-series silicon to be based on the latest ARMv8 architecture. In comparison, the A6 was built on a custom ARMv7 setup that doubled number crunching and graphics speeds, while shrinking die size by 22 percent.

By stepping up to ARMv8, and tweaking hardware and software packages, Kuo believes Apple will manage to squeeze out a 20 percent increase in efficiency over the A6.

Boosting those numbers is the inclusion of LPDDR3 RAM, a faster memory specification than the LPDDR2 modules used in the A6. The increased bandwidth will allow Apple to maintain a relatively small amount of dedicated memory. Kuo expects the A7 to carry the same 1GB of on-die RAM seen with with the previous generation chip.

Kuo notes that there is no clear evidence indicating whether the A7 will support 32-bit or 64-bit processes, but says he "would not be surprised" to see 64-bit support this year. If 64-bit isn't included in the A7, however, Kuo says manufacturing trends will likely push Apple in that direction if and when a next-generation "A8" processor is released.

It is not yet known what company is fabricating Apple's next-generation SoCs, but one report claimed Cupertino will be moving away from longtime supplier Samsung in favor of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC).

The details above come from a research note issued earlier on Thursday in which the analyst predicts Apple will release the iPhone 5S alongside new options like a gold color shell and 128GB of on-board storage.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 88
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    Really hoping he's right... sounds lovely. Come on Kuo- make me a believer!
  • Reply 2 of 88
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member


    He is aware that he is talking about change instruction set architecture and not just new core implementation.. right? 


     


    has he actually consider that this would also require iOS7 to be retargeted for the new 64 bit instruction set architecture? 


     


    Throwing in third party apps into the equation would make it even more challenging as all the sudden we would have both 32 and 64 bit apps versions in the App Store for optimal performance.


     


    If I was at Apple, I'd be freaking out if I was tasked with the releasing the biggest change to iOS since the original iOS release and also have to worry about changing to 64 bit environment at the same time. 

  • Reply 3 of 88


    I was wrong last year when I predicted the iPhone 5 would have a newer A5 with a die shrink and faster clock giving lower power consumption and a reasonable increase in speed. Then they surprised with the A6 which was a big jump from the A5.


     


    I'd love to see an A7 this year but is it really necessary? The iPhone 5 is already fast and still compares well with the fastest Android phones available.


     


    Then I have to look at history. From the 4 to 4S to 5 Apple basically doubled performance each time (4-4S was more than double). So I think it's likely we'll see an A7 and a PowerVR 6 series.


     


     


    Off topic, but what I'd like to see is an A7 with 4 PowerVR 6 GPU cores in an Apple TV. Allow devs to write Apps and watch it take off as a capable gaming platform. The current Apple TV just doesn't have the power to run good games at HD resolution.

  • Reply 4 of 88


    Breaking: something else so blindingly obvious only an idiot would say otherwise.


     


    I think that covers it, yeah? We've exhausted the wetness of water, spin of the Earth, and apparent color of the reflected wavelength of the sky.

  • Reply 5 of 88

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


    I'd love to see an A7 this year but is it really necessary? The iPhone 5 is already fast and still compares well with the fastest Android phones available.



     


    An A7 this year may not be really necessary, but anything released this year needs to run iOS and apps being released in 2016 or later just to allow Apple products to boast of a value no other phone company can match.


     


    Which brings me to try to imagine what a 2016 iPhone might offer as leading edge features... what indeed?? 

  • Reply 6 of 88


    I still think the A7 will be a quad core chip. This should allow devs to create more capable higher quality apps and would further distance iOS from the competition.

  • Reply 7 of 88
    timbittimbit Posts: 331member
    I still think the A7 will be a quad core chip. This should allow devs to create more capable higher quality apps and would further distance iOS from the competition.

    It would be nice and speedy but i think you would lose a lot of battery power to run the extra cores. Apple seems to favour a balance so I'm not sure if we will see quad cores quite yet.
  • Reply 8 of 88
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    If 64-bit isn't included in the A7, however, Kuo says manufacturing trends will likely push Apple in that direction if and when a next-generation "A8" processor is released.


     


    Yup.  The ARMv8 architecture includes the AArch64 architecture, which supports the A64 instruction set.  ARMv8 will still run 32-bit OSes and apps with the AArch32 architecture and A32 instruction set.  This was all released in late 2011, so yeah, it's about time for some 64-bit ARM chips.


     


    Which, of course, would enable an ARM-based MacBook Air running OS X.  Just a matter of time.


    Don't forget that OS X started life on RISC processors.

  • Reply 9 of 88
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


     


    ARMv8 will still run 32-bit OSes 



    under a 64bit hypervisor.

  • Reply 10 of 88
    Oh how I hope this guy is wrong. I don't know if I can take another year on my tiny 4S' screen. I just don't see the benefit in an extra 1/2" on the purported 5S screen. I hope Apple didn't just do a typical S upgrade this year. Didn't they listen to the masses of people over a year ago when they were disappointed with the 5? I think with the current Galaxy cannibalization going on right now, Apple will probably lose even more customers to them.

    After all, why 128 gigs of storage when you have to squint to see anything?

    I hate to say it but a iPod Touch and a S4 may be in the future of this fanboy.
  • Reply 11 of 88
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


    Don't forget that OS X started life on RISC processors.



    not sure I see the significance of this comment.  


     


    But if you want to be technical, actually OS X started life as NeXTSTEP. I assume you know which CPU architecture type that started on. ;-)

  • Reply 12 of 88
    ksecksec Posts: 1,568member
    No ARMv8 coming this year, and no 64bit.
    It will be a slightly tweaked and faster version of Swift @ 28nm along with New Graphics, Hopefully PowerVR 6 aka Rogue. And it will be LPDDR3 2GB Ram.
  • Reply 13 of 88

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ksec View Post



    No ARMv8 coming this year, and no 64bit.

    It will be a slightly tweaked and faster version of Swift @ 28nm along with New Graphics, Hopefully PowerVR 6 aka Rogue. And it will be LPDDR3 2GB Ram.


    you sound sure of yourself.

  • Reply 14 of 88
    snovasnova Posts: 1,281member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ttong_atx View Post



    I just don't see the benefit in an extra 1/2" on the purported 5S screen..


    I agree. Both my wife and friend did the upgrade from iPhone 4 to iPhone 5 last year.  Both have told me they like the smaller size of the 4 screen vs the 5 screen. strange, huh?

  • Reply 15 of 88

    Originally Posted by Shameer Mulji View Post


    you sound sure of yourself.


     


    Well, it's easy to tell. We know what's being manufactured ARM-wise, and we know what the newest chips in the architecture entail. 



    I don't know if what he specifically said is right, but I'm not looking, either. image

  • Reply 16 of 88
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,733member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ttong_atx View Post



    ...Didn't they listen to the masses of people over a year ago when they were disappointed with the 5? I think with the current Galaxy cannibalization going on right now, Apple will probably lose even more customers to them.


     


    I don't know of anyone disappointed with the iPhone 5. ...'masses of people'... B.S.

  • Reply 17 of 88
    iqatedo wrote: »
    I don't know of anyone disappointed with the iPhone 5. ...'masses of people'... B.S.

    A person would only logically think this based on the number of Galaxy activations.

    5 out of the 10 or 12 friends I have with iPhones went to the Note and the S4 when the 5 came out. They weren't impressed and neither was I. But I was holding on thinking Apple would get it right this year.

    I haven't heard one person say "wow" when referring to the screen size on the 5. My wife didn't even want one until her 4 was busted.

    Just saying...
  • Reply 18 of 88

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Timbit View Post





    It would be nice and speedy but i think you would lose a lot of battery power to run the extra cores. Apple seems to favour a balance so I'm not sure if we will see quad cores quite yet.


     


    Maybe we'll see two new chips released this year. A Quad core A8 for the 5S and an improved Dual core A7 for the lower spec 5C. You just never know with Apple. Although I have to admit I'm probably just building my hopes up...


     


    I just think they'll really need to up their game this time as competition is expected to be fierce this holiday season.

  • Reply 19 of 88
    ttong_atx wrote: »

    5 out of the 10 or 12 friends I have with iPhones went to the Note and the S4 when the 5 came out. They weren't impressed and neither was I. But I was holding on thinking Apple would get it right this year.

    I haven't heard one person say "wow" when referring to the screen size on the 5. My wife didn't even want one until her 4 was busted.

    Just saying...

    Don't get me wrong...I love everything else about the 5. It is a beautiful, thin & light phone with awesome hardware and software. I just think sales are telling us that most people prefer a larger screen.
  • Reply 20 of 88
    drblankdrblank Posts: 3,383member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by snova View Post


    He is aware that he is talking about change instruction set architecture and not just new core implementation.. right? 


     


    has he actually consider that this would also require iOS7 to be retargeted for the new 64 bit instruction set architecture? 


     


    Throwing in third party apps into the equation would make it even more challenging as all the sudden we would have both 32 and 64 bit apps versions in the App Store for optimal performance.


     


    If I was at Apple, I'd be freaking out if I was tasked with the releasing the biggest change to iOS since the original iOS release and also have to worry about changing to 64 bit environment at the same time. 



    How did Apple do with the change from 32 to 64 bit for OS X?  I don't think it was that bad of a transition compared to the other guys.

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