Apple A10 Fusion in iPhone 7 family surprises, exceeds pre-release expectations

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple's A10 Fusion processor found in the new iPhone 7 family is a quad-core chip, but not one like Apple's ever used in any device its ever made before.




Historically, all of Apple's quad-core chips on the Mac side have all four processors able to hit the same peak speed. The A10 Fusion architecture differs, having two high power cores, and two high efficiency cores.

Apple claims that overall, the A10 Fusion in the iPhone 7 family is 120 times faster than the original iPhone, and 40 percent faster than the A9 chip in the 2015 iPhone 6s.




Processing speed comes at a price. In the same chip generation, the faster chips generally take more power. Low energy chips draw less, but at a cost of processing speed.

To keep the iPhone 7 running at peak efficiency, the two disparate pairs of cores are driven my a new traffic-regulating chip, delivering tasks with low computing power demands to the high efficiency cores, and heavy duty tasks to the high power cores. Practically, this means that tasks like e-mail checking and music playing will be handled by the high efficiency cores, preserving battery life when in use much better than if the tasks were dealt with by the high power chips.

The raw benchmarks of the chip are impressive, with the iPhone 7 edging out the 12.9-inch iPad pro in performance -- and they don't seem to involve the high-efficiency chips at all.




The iPhone 7 has a single-core aggregate benchmark of 3233, as compared to the iPhone 6s Plus pulling down a 2508. Multi-core performance on the new device is listed as 5363, with the 6s Plus coming in at 4106.

A more tangible benefit of the A10 Fusion for users is probably going to be battery life, with Apple claiming that the regulating chip gives up to two hours of usage of the iPhone 7 over the iPhone 6s, depending on usage.

Graphics aren't just for gamers

Coupled with the A10 Fusion is a new six-core GPU. Apple promises "console-level" gaming, and claims that the GPU in the A10 Fusion is three times faster than the A8 processor found in the iPhone 6, fourth generation Apple TV, and latest iPod Touch.

The increased graphical and processing performance is a key component to Apple's implementation of Wide Color in the iPhone 7.

Advancing the iPhone

The A10 Fusion is a giant advance over the A9 processor in iPhone 6s, when one was not expected by the mainstream press. It even reportedly still uses the 14nm FinFET process, with the next generation of iPhone chip shifting to 10nm with resultant battery life and thermal improvements.

Regardless of the slightly older chip manufacturing process still in use for the A10 Fusion, the chip brings both power and battery life to the line, and is another reason why pre-release criticism of the iPhone 7 not being innovative were mistaken.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    With the A8X, Apple surprised everyone by including three cores (all high power). People wondered if that meant Apple would start increasing the core count, but the A9X went back to two cores. People speculated that Apple only went with three cores in the A8X because the 20nm process had problems with higher clock speeds, so Apple added a third high performance core to compensate. 

    With the A10 I wonder if we are seeing something similar. The A10 is presumably made on a tweaked version of the TSMC 16nm process used for the A9. Because it's mostly the same process, perhaps Apple realized that any increase in clock speed was going to be expensive in terms of power. But this time, instead of going with three lower-clocked high performance cores, they decided to go with two high clocked high performance cores, but to compensate for the higher power draw, they added two low power, low clocked cores. If so, then perhaps the A11 will switch back to just two big cores... 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 2 of 49
    Do you commenters imagine the big.LITTLE architecture to become standard for Apple moving forward? 
    edited September 2016 cali
  • Reply 3 of 49
    *duplicate post deleted.

    WTF is wrong with AI iOS app? What junk, and to think about the irony of how we critic Apple related news on an iOS app that is plagued by misgivings. Do you heavy contributors comment using a desktop Internet browser?
    edited September 2016 calinolamacguyoldbluegmc50Deelronbrakkenbrian greenequality72521
  • Reply 4 of 49
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,594member
    I am beginning to need the iPhone 7 more by the hour. I am wondering if I really REALLY need the +. I think I may.
    repressthismuadibecalilkruppwilliamlondonDeelronwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 49
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,432member
    I'm looking to buy an iPad Pro 12.9 eventually, the new one, not the current one.

    What chip is that going to come with? The A10X? That's going to be a monster chip!

    400 flying monkeys is impressive and cool on an iPhone, but my iPad Pro better have 600-800 flying monkeys!
    king editor the gratecali[Deleted User]watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 49
    blastdoor said:
    SNIP... instead of going with three lower-clocked high performance cores, they decided to go with two high clocked high performance cores, but to compensate for the higher power draw, they added two low power, low clocked cores. If so, then perhaps the A11 will switch back to just two big cores... 
    Whatever... I'm sure it won't explode or catch fire! ;-)
    jbdragonrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 49
    Do you commenters imagine the big.LITTLE architecture to become standard for Apple moving forward? 

    I doubt this is big.little, but rather a superior implementation by Apple. They even hinted at this by mentioning their custom performance controller at the announcement.

    big.little isn't nearly as good as people think, especially with the overhead you get if you put a thread onto the wrong core and want to move it later.
    williamlondonmdriftmeyerrepressthisjony0
  • Reply 8 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,682member
    Do you commenters imagine the big.LITTLE architecture to become standard for Apple moving forward? 

    I doubt this is big.little, but rather a superior implementation by Apple. They even hinted at this by mentioning their custom performance controller at the announcement.

    big.little isn't nearly as good as people think, especially with the overhead you get if you put a thread onto the wrong core and want to move it later.
    I doubt it's officially big.LITTLE, but the principle is the same, so there's no harm in using that reference, right? When I consider it's Apple's processor design with Apple's controller design, on an Apple SoC using an Apple written OS, I'd love for there to be direct comparisons made between this fast_chip.SLOW_CHIP switching for comparable apps on Android.
    larryaDeelronrepressthiswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 49
    paxman said:
    I am beginning to need the iPhone 7 more by the hour. I am wondering if I really REALLY need the +. I think I may.
    That IS the phone you've been looking for...that IS the phone you've been looking for.
    calijbdragonpaxmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 49
    I wonder how accurate that performance-increase chart is? I'm still on an iPhone 4, which looks pathetically show compared to successive iPhones, yet it still works exceptionally well for what I do with it. Makes me wonder just how fast current iPhones are at basic everyday tasks? An iPhone SE is within my view.
    baconstangcrosslad
  • Reply 11 of 49
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,432member
    I have breaking news!

    Can we get a story on this? Surely, this is just as newsworthy as any bogus analyst speculation stories.

    Chinese man threatens to jump off 25th-floor balcony because he 'lost his iPhone 6' 

    I don't recall anybody ever wanting to jump off of any balconies because they had lost their Android phone. :# 



    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3785511/Chinese-man-threatens-jump-25th-floor-balcony-lost-iPhone-6.html#ixzz4K4iTRvUp 

    edited September 2016
  • Reply 12 of 49
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,432member
    I wonder how accurate that performance-increase chart is? I'm still on an iPhone 4, which looks pathetically show compared to successive iPhones, yet it still works exceptionally well for what I do with it. Makes me wonder just how fast current iPhones are at basic everyday tasks? An iPhone SE is within my view.
    Let me tell you, the iPhone SE is great, that's what I currently have, and I'm super happy with mine. The battery life on it is pretty good too.

    It has an A9 chip and it's super speedy, and the difference between that and your iPhone 4 will be quite significant, to put it very mildly. 
    oldbluegmc50Deelronrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 49
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,682member
    I wonder how accurate that performance-increase chart is? I'm still on an iPhone 4, which looks pathetically show compared to successive iPhones, yet it still works exceptionally well for what I do with it. Makes me wonder just how fast current iPhones are at basic everyday tasks? An iPhone SE is within my view.
    There's usually YouTube videos that do comparative power-on, app opening, and apps relaunching from RAM (unless purged) routines. They might not do your 2010 iPhone with a 2016 version, but you could conduct your own test after those videos are posted.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    koopkoop Posts: 337member
    Any reasonable android fan will tell you that number 1 thing they are most jealous of with the iPhone is Apple's amazing A chips. Apple has done nothing but embarrass qualcomm for the past two to three years. Intel basically didn't even bother.

    Those chips are crazy. Apple's combination of using them with their super fast storage solution, plus 3gb of memory means iPhone 7 is going to be so ridiculously fast that I can't even wrap my head around it.
    radarthekatrevolutionwilliamlondonrepressthisequality72521watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 49
    *duplicate post deleted.

    WTF is wrong with AI iOS app? What junk, and to think about the irony of how we critic Apple related news on an iOS app that is plagued by misgivings. Do you heavy contributors comment using a desktop Internet browser?
    I use the normal website and it's also disappointing. their ajax calls to like/dislike/post/save are poorly done which is what causes all the duplicated posts and molasses response to liking a comment. if they had a programmer he'd have fixed this after launch but it never happened so I doubt they have a web dev on staff. 

    likewise you still can't click a quoted message to go to the original, which is a standard feature on other sites and even the old AI. 
    chiarepressthispropod
  • Reply 16 of 49
    I wonder how accurate that performance-increase chart is? I'm still on an iPhone 4, which looks pathetically show compared to successive iPhones, yet it still works exceptionally well for what I do with it. Makes me wonder just how fast current iPhones are at basic everyday tasks? An iPhone SE is within my view.
    Perception is reality. Your perception of the adequate performance of the iPhone 4 is based on the fact that you haven't used one of the newer iPhone versions. Let's say you upgrade to the iPhone SE, which may work for your needs. You will notice a huge jump in processor, video, and network speed. It's not shown on the above chart but should fall somewhere between the iPhone 6 and 6s. Now after using the SE for a short period go back to the iPhone 4. I have been using an iPhone 6 plus and my wife has an iPhone 5. Whenever she asks me to help her with it I can't stand two things; the size of the screen, and the speed of the system. Even going from the 4 to the SE you will gain a larger screen. You don't need an iPhone 7 but upgrading to the SE or a 6S would make sense since Apple is going to drop support for the iPhone 4 not long in the future now that iOS 10 is out. I think you'll find other features in the newer phones helpful. Just imagine all the things Apple has created that may make your life easier.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 49
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,699member
    Put this chip in Apple TV with a much better SIRI to use as both an XBox and Echo competitor.
    revolutionoldbluegmc50propodwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 49
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,007moderator
    I wonder how accurate that performance-increase chart is? I'm still on an iPhone 4, which looks pathetically show compared to successive iPhones, yet it still works exceptionally well for what I do with it. Makes me wonder just how fast current iPhones are at basic everyday tasks? An iPhone SE is within my view.
    The SE is a sweet phone, even in context of the new 7 and 7+. Apple hit a home run with that model.
    baconstangrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 49
    ... with the next generation of iPhone chip shifting to 10nm with resultant battery life and thermal improvements.
    I'm counting the days until my Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus arrives on or after Oct. :# 18   :#
    Fine. I can deal with the delay.

    But next year's iPhone "8" could be another huge leap forward in design *and* technology.
    Especially if all these rumors turn out to be true:

    TSMC-made "A11" 10nm-process SoC for faster speeds, better battery life, lower heat output
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/05/06/rumor-tsmc-already-finalizing-10nm-a11-processor-design-for-apples-iphone-7s

    Zirconium dioxide 
    ceramic (aka zirconia) enclosure for total scratch-resistance, wireless charging, and radio transparency
    Zirconia consumer electronics enclosure patent (2006):
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/06/11/30/apple_seeks_patent_on_radio_transparent_zirconia_ce_casings
    Specific  Watch and iPhone zirconia enclosure patent (2015):
    http://www.patentlyapple.com/patently-apple/2016/09/revealing-apple-patent-covers-ceramic-apple-watch-and-all-new-ceramic-iphone.html
    Apple supplier rumor:
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/05/19/glass-based-iphone-redesign-coming-in-2017-apple-partner-catcher-reaffirms 

    AMOLED display panel for better battery life and... wait for it... thinner form factor
    http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/04/17/apple-expected-to-ditch-aluminum-release-glass-backed-iphone-with-oled-display-in-2017

    I wish I could pre-order the 2017 iPhone NOW.


    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 49
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,793member
    paxman said:
    I am beginning to need the iPhone 7 more by the hour. I am wondering if I really REALLY need the +. I think I may.
    Yep, I’m currently using an iPhone 6 and I’m thinking the same thing.
    paxmanwatto_cobra
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