With iPhone 8, Apple's Silicon Gap widens as the new A11 Bionic obliterates top chips from...

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Official benchmarks posted by Geekbench show that Apple's A11 Bionic delivers a huge jump in performance over last year's A10 Fusion used in iPhone 7, with scores that are not just far beyond other mobile ARM competitors' latest chips, but higher than the base Intel Kaby Lake Core i5 processor Apple uses in its 13 inch MacBook Pro.




Unofficial A11 Geekbench scores that appeared just before Apple's event last week indicated Apple had a fast chip behind the curtains, but the newly added official scores are even higher than what leaked.

Apple is using the new A11 Bionic in its iPhone 8/8 Plus models as well in iPhone X. The scores Geekbench outlines for the three models show some variation between them (less than 5 percent in single core and around 7 percent in multicore), likely related to the difference in display resolution and offset by a difference in RAM.




However, the improvement over last year's A10 Fusion is dramatic. Comparing the similarly specced iPhone 7 to iPhone 8, the A11 Bionic is 25 percent faster in single core and 80 percent faster in multicore scores. This is particularly noteworthy because Apple's latest chip delivers new neural net, camera ISP and GPU capabilities that are above and beyond what a generic processor benchmark measures. This year's A11 Bionic not just faster and more efficient, but also more capable in entirely new ways as well

This year's A11 Bionic not just faster and more efficient, but also more capable in entirely new ways as well. But apart from that, its generic benchmarks jump over Android flagships' ARM chips is even larger. That's to be expected because Apple's A9 from two years ago was already beating this year's Androids in typical, single core performance.

Not just the chips

Benchmark numbers don't tell the whole story. While Apple's A11 Bionic can hit numbers higher than a Kaby Lake Core i5, there are lots of things a user with a 13 inch MacBook Pro can do that don't translate to a phone. A notebook is tasked with driving a much larger, higher resolution display, for example, which lets you do things a pocketable phone can't.

Higher resolutions mean there's more pixels to manage. That's also one reason why Apple's compact iPhone SE can still beat newer Android flagships with its now two-year-old chip: it has far fewer pixels.

Android makers have sought to drive the adoption of extremely high resolution displays-- in particular Samsung, which develops its own screens and seeks to use these to differentiate its smartphone offerings. However, as we have repeatedly noted, Samsung's incessant push toward higher resolution displays has fallen behind its efforts to include the horsepower to drive them.

Apple's faster chips to handle more pixels

Rather than rushing out displays with just high pixel counts, Apple has worked to develop its SoC with the horsepower to drive existing resolution displays, differentiated primarily by other qualitative factors such as color accuracy and wide color gamut.

The company hasn't changed the resolution of its new iPhone models since the larger new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were introduced three years ago. It has, however, developed Ax chips with the extra graphics power to drive iPad and new iPad Pro models, with far higher screen resolutions than its iPhones.

We noted years ago that the higher screen resolution of the iPhone 6 Plus allowed it to be beaten by the standard iPhone 6 in benchmarks; it even feels a bit slower in actual use.

In addition to extra pixels (i.e., about 2 million, or twice as many as the standard iPhone 6/7/8), "Plus sized" iPhones internally render a 3x display resolution (as opposed to the 2x render that Retina Display iPhones have performed since iPhone 4), then perform a 1.15x downscaling of the internally rendered display to match the actual Plus screen resolution.

The new iPhone X changes this. Like the Plus, it also renders internally at 3x but it now natively delivers this to its display. So even though it has over 2.7 million pixels (nearly triple the pixel count of iPhone 6/7/8), it doesn't have the performance hit of downsampling. Paired with three years of Ax chip advancements, iPhone X appears to be fully capable of driving its higher screen resolution.

In contrast, Samsung's Galaxy S8 uses an incredibly high resolution screen with more than 4.2 million pixels, but is paired with a chip that can't keep up, giving it benchmarks about in line with cheaper Androids from Huawei and Xaiomi that have much lower screen resolutions.

That's certainly not helping Samsung to stay relevant in the important Chinese market, where there's a fixation on benchmark numbers--and where Apple has an overwhelming 80 percent share of premium-priced phones.


Apple's pace and lead over rivals are both increasing

Both the Qualcomm Snapdragon SoCs that Samsung uses in most of its international models and its own homegrown Exynos chips (which it uses in places where Qualcomm's CDMA isn't needed) have lagged behind Apple's pace of silicon progress.

The Ax-Exynos gap is particularly notable, having grown into a wide chasm since the two phone makers last closely collaborated on the Hummingbird/A4 chip design back in 2010. How has Apple managed to beat Samsung at chip design, given that Samsung owns its own fab and was experienced in mobile silicon for many years before Apple debuted its custom A4?

A big reason is scale. Across the last seven generations of its silicon design, Apple has not only invested big in advancing silicon performance and efficiency but has financed this via its highly profitable focus on premium mobile devices. Apple has not only invested big in advancing silicon performance and efficiency but has financed this via its highly profitable focus on premium mobile devices

Because all of Apple's new iPhone generations use its latest chip, that massive volume of sales spreads around the expense of developing new silicon. Apple sells around 170 million latest-generation iPhones in their first year.

Apple also continues to use each Ax chip generation for multiple years of iPhones; uses the same processors in its other products including Apple TV; scales up each year's iPhone chip technology for iPad and scales it down for use in products like Apple Watch.

Samsung, along with every other maker of custom-designed chips (including Huawei's Hisilicon subsidiary and its Kirin SoC), has a far more limited potential market for the custom silicon it creates. Despite designing and building Exynos SoCs, Samsung largely makes use of Snapdragon chips from Qualcomm in its phones. And outside of Apple, the markets for tablets or smartwatches-- particularly high performance, expensive ones-- are extremely small.

Even Qualcomm, which services many leading vendors of Android phones and enjoys a monopoly in intellectual property required for compatibility with mobile networks, is having a hard time competing with Apple in performance, not purely because it doesn't know how to, but because most of the demand from Android makers is for lower-end value chips, not state-of-the-art, advanced SoCs. It can't afford to develop technology that nobody wants to pay for.

That indicates that Apple enjoys not just a temporary head start in designing silicon until its rivals can catch up, but rather an inherent lead tied to vast economies of scale that allow it to invest liberally in developing faster, more efficient processors using technology that that can scale up and down for use in a variety of devices.

In addition, Apple's parallel development of Metal--a more efficient way to drive graphics running on the same silicon--is amplifying its improvements delivered in hardware. Because it handles both, it can optimize its new chips for its Metal software and vice versa. Geekbench also publishes Metal benchmarks for iOS devices that depict a new tier of performance achieved with each new generation of its technologies (below).

This all happened before

Back in the early 1990s, Apple worked with IBM and Motorola to develop PowerPC chips that the entire PC industry was supposed to adopt as superior to Intel's. However, Intel's vast economies of scale helped it to catch up to the performance of the newer PowerPC designs and eventually surpass them.

The same way that iOS has positioned Apple as "the Microsoft" of premium mobile devices, its Ax series chips have made it "the Intel" of mobile. In fact, the volume and value of iOS hardware actually make Apple far larger than the WinTel PC empire ever was.

Conversely, in parallel with PowerPC Apple also worked with Acorn and VLSI to develop mobile ARM chips for its 1994 tablet. While Newton MessagePad never achieved vast economies of scale on its own, the new mobile-optimized ARM chips were picked up by Nokia and other mobile makers that created a massive market for ARM chips.

A decade later, Apple's original investment in ARM was sold off by Steve Jobs at its peak valuation to help keep the company afloat while it turned itself around. When Apple began building iPods, it could tap into modern ARM chips being built by Samsung.

iPod sales climbed into a mass market that allowed ARM to resist competition from rivals such as Nvidia's mobile Tegra. After sales of ARM-powered iPhones took off in even larger sales volumes, even strident efforts by Intel to enter the mobile market proved to be impossible.

Since the 2010 introduction of A4, its first custom ARM design, Apple has increasingly fed its hardware profits into proprietary advanced silicon, allowing it to differentiate its offerings and avoid paying a third party. With A11 Bionic, that effort has gained a new dimension with Apple's own entirely new GPU architecture, which it formerly licensed from Imagination.

Rather than any signs of slowing down, it looks like Apple's silicon gap is growing wider.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 83
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    It is about the only thing that the iPhone X has going for it.
    This is your second post in two years; put down the bong, get off the couch, and put your back into it man. Stop being the lazy, ineffectual, troll that you are today and grow into the troll you were meant to be!

    MacRumors awaits you!
    2old4funsergiozfirelockred oakwilliamlondonbirkoredgeminipachabigStrangeDaysAvieshek
  • Reply 2 of 83
    Apple clearly can't innovate.
    They constantly fail by not being able to match what the top competition on Android side has to offer.
    This is quite clear because Apple always screws it up by overshooting the mark (by about 2-4 times) performance-wise comparing to the top level Android phones.
    Amateurs...

    "But muh customizationZ!"  -anonymous android-fan circa 2017.
    "But muh disk access + file manager + root access" - anonymous Android malware carrier circa 2017.

    get fu-ed. Everyone chooses what they want, but not everyone gets what they want. That happens, when some people choose not based on the objective criteria,  replacing that with emotional ones, instead. Then reality kicks in, creating some cognitive dissonance which can be cured by reading appropriate echo-chamber website telling its readers that Apple can't innovate, after which the dissonance subsides for the time being.
    Sigh...


    edited September 2017 StrangeDaysradarthekatargonautedredgregg thurmanrepressthisjahbladekenclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 83
    With the power of the A11 Apple has opened up a world of opportunity and options that few people currently imagine.

    Particularly when you combine the A11 with an external GPU, you get a device you can carry in your pocket capable of driving large screen applications...   And, with that, you get say, a single device serving as a smart phone, laptop and desktop by simply plugging into the appropriate screen and peripherals.

    But then you come to newer technologies of self driving cars trucks, augmented reality, home automation, robotics, and business & industrial applications...

    This is where Steve excelled:   applying technology to meeting needs people didn't even know that they had.   Since his death, technological progress has been mostly evolutionary rather than revolutionary.   But the A11 (as well as its successors) could enable the revolution.   Tim obviously will not be up to the challenge.   But, will TIm's Apple?   The history of the Apple Watch says "Yes!"
    SoundJudgmentargonautgregg thurmanrepressthispatchythepiratebadmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 83
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    With the power of the A11 Apple has opened up a world of opportunity and options that few people currently imagine.

    Particularly when you combine the A11 with an external GPU, you get a device you can carry in your pocket capable of driving large screen applications...   And, with that, you get say, a single device serving as a smart phone, laptop and desktop by simply plugging into the appropriate screen and peripherals.

    But then you come to newer technologies of self driving cars trucks, augmented reality, home automation, robotics, and business & industrial applications...

    This is where Steve excelled:   applying technology to meeting needs people didn't even know that they had.   Since his death, technological progress has been mostly evolutionary rather than revolutionary.   But the A11 (as well as its successors) could enable the revolution.   Tim obviously will not be up to the challenge.   But, will TIm's Apple?   The history of the Apple Watch says "Yes!"
    Still pushing the toaster fridge idea, which frankly, makes you sound like you are completely full of shit. For the record, the industry is striving to get away from plugs and cables, and you are advocating for more of the same cable connections. People, by and large, aren't asking for what you are pushing, so it is both a bad idea, and would, again, be a failure in the market. There were enough of these out there in the last decade to prove it a bad idea. Don't like what Tim is doing? Buy something other that Apple and move on, or better, start you own company, like Essential, and break barriers, or something, something.
    edited September 2017 williamlondonStrangeDaysradarthekatchiacornchiplolliverwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 83
    Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something?
  • Reply 6 of 83
    The future of the Ax series:

    "Have Compute Power Will Travel"

    Apple's plan for domination: Out compute the others by 3x, 4x, and more. Devs will create iOS apps that can't even run on Android.



    (Apologies to the great Have Gun Will Travel series)


    edited September 2017 chiaredgeminipaGeorgeBMaclolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 83
    Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something?

    Yes, you are missing a lot of things. There are benchmarks which are NOT dependent on screen resolution. Even in ALL of those benchmarks, A11 is a champion. Guess which SoC is second in most of those benchmarks? No prices, if you guessed A10 from Apple.
    SoundJudgmentMuntzradarthekatargonautjbdragonchiajahbladelolliverwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 83
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,838member
    Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something?
    Sucks for Samsung to have 4K resolution in a handheld device that no human eye can resolve; i.e., it's a bad design decision to drive that many pixels, but it was done for marketing to people who purchase based on a list of specs.
    redgeminipaStrangeDaysMuntzradarthekatlkruppargonautedredjbdragoncharlesatlaschia
  • Reply 9 of 83
    chiachia Posts: 701member
    It is about the only thing that the iPhone X has going for it.
    Well seeing that the A11 is much superior in its computational ability than its nearest competition, on that front alone, the iPhone X has a lot going for it.
    redgeminipaSoundJudgmentMuntzradarthekatjbdragonrepressthisjahbladeflashfan207watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 10 of 83
    I was a bit disappointed to see the iPhone 8 look nearly identical to the iPhone 7, but clearly Apple's innovation is inside the phone. Android will have problems catching up to apple's AR and biometric applications if the majority of the Android platform does not have the computational power to run this type of software. I think 18 months from now, when the iPhone base has a large number of high performance handsets out there, iPhone will really secure a good lead over the competition. And maybe by then Apple will have an alternate supplier of OLEDs which is their last critical dependency on Samsung.
    redgeminipaMuntzlostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 83
    TBH the main thing remaining is for Apple to integrate the modem into the SoC. Samsung only use Snapdragon in the US because of the modem differences there. Exynos is everywhere else. Exynos really is the closest chip in spirit to Apple's (because only Samsung use them these days), but Samsung don't appear to care too much about leading the market, instead being content to roughly match the equivalent Snapdragon in performance. The M1, M2 cores that Samsung uses appear to be lightly modified basic ARM core designs. Even Qualcomm have gone this direction with their latest Kryo cores. Apple have taken control of their chip design future, and have the money and the sales to drive this forward for the foreseeable future. It's unlikely that ARM is going to launch a mobile core that will compete on single-threaded performance anytime soon, and now that Apple have fixed their multi-core processing to use all cores, even the traditional "octo-core" method for other SoCs to get great scores has been surpassed. I can't see any other SoC outperforming the A series SoCs in CPU/GPU for many years (Kirin 970 on-paper has a more powerful AI core, we should find out more within a month or so, I note an AI core is only as good as the learning applied to it which Apple surely has not skimped on). Still, performance is not everything in a phone, but it's not like A11 appears to have compromises in other places like battery life. Like many, I would really like to see an A11 or later SoC (likely a different enhanced design that is optimised for this usage) running OS X on a laptop. Let's see what the additional TDP headroom can do in these form factors.
    Muntzpatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 83
    Don’t feed the troll (is it me or they are a lot more of them recently)?

    Apple designed its chip to work with the optimum results, cutting all the fat layers. That’s why on paper iPhone appears behind Androids but in real world use, it is a lot quicker especially when doing the common things like opening large files, playing HD videos, playing graphics-intensive games, multitasking, etc. Apple is the master of efficiency: do more with less. And this concept seems to be alien for Androids community who think they must do more with even more - creating a circle of burden between power and performance which eventually resulting with even less performance. They mock Apple without understanding that Apple designed their hardware and software to work together perfectly.

    edited September 2017 redgeminipaMuntzradarthekatargonautchiawatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 83
    Android makers have sought to drive the adoption of extremely high resolution displays-- in particular Samsung, which develops its own screens and seeks to use these to differentiate its smartphone offerings. However, as we have repeatedly noted, Samsung's incessant push toward higher resolution displays has fallen behind its efforts to include the horsepower to drive them.

    In contrast, Samsung's Galaxy S8 uses an incredibly high resolution screen with more than 4.2 million pixels, but is paired with a chip that can't keep up, giving it benchmarks about in line with cheaper Androids from Huawei and Xaiomi that have much lower screen resolutions.

    While DED is absolutely spot on with majority of the contents in this article, there are few misleading conclusions which I think are not correct. Poor performance of Samsung's phones has MORE to do with "Poor Software" than "raw power" of SD 835/Exynos 8895. SD 835/Exynos 8895 are perfectly capable of handling QHD+ resolution phones without any issues. Samsung's latest phones (S8, S8+, Note 8) offer an option to reduce the screen resolution. Even after using this feature to lower the resolution, the performance did not improve in Samsung's latest flagships based on the reviews that I have read. The conclusion was - "there is no visible difference in performance whether the screen resolution is FHD+ or QHD+", suggesting the SOFTWARE is at large to blame for poor performance.

    While Apple's SoCs are objectively better than SoCs used in Android flagships for last 2+ years (from A9 onwards), Pixels and other near-stock Android phones (from HTC/Sony/Motorola) do NOT exhibit the same performance issues observed in Samsung's phones. They run perfectly fine with the same high resolution QHD+. Fact is - Apple's SoCs (A9+) can handle QHD+ resolution (with A11 even UHD) comfortably without any issues. The fact that Apple has chosen to go with lower resolution has nothing to do with "raw performance", may be more to do with battery life. It could also be that higher resolution does not visibly improve the quality of display, but HDR and high refresh rate do and Apple is focusing on those areas to bring meaningful improvements to the end users.

    radarthekatbradipao2old4funlostkiwipatchythepirate
  • Reply 14 of 83
    It's nice that the A11 outperforms the CPUs of other vendors, but the main question is: does it really matter?  I am using my iPhone 6s for calling, web browsing, emailing, checking my calendar, taking notes, paying, chatting, taking photos, checking bank account, playing music, checking public transport timetable.  And for none of these actions my iPhone 6s feels sluggish.   How impressive the A11 may be, I am not at all convinced that I will be more productive with a faster CPU.  
    One might say that the A11 is needed for face recognition, but I fail to see the advantage of face recognition versus TouchID.  I am pretty sure ApplyPay with face recognition will be more cumbersome ans slower to use than the current ApplePay.  The fact that I have to turn the phone to my face is inherently slower than putting my finger on the home button.
  • Reply 15 of 83
    cropr said:
    It's nice that the A11 outperforms the CPUs of other vendors, but the main question is: does it really matter?  I am using my iPhone 6s for calling, web browsing, emailing, checking my calendar, taking notes, paying, chatting, taking photos, checking bank account, playing music, checking public transport timetable.  And for none of these actions my iPhone 6s feels sluggish.   How impressive the A11 may be, I am not at all convinced that I will be more productive with a faster CPU.  
    One might say that the A11 is needed for face recognition, but I fail to see the advantage of face recognition versus TouchID.  I am pretty sure ApplyPay with face recognition will be more cumbersome ans slower to use than the current ApplePay.  The fact that I have to turn the phone to my face is inherently slower than putting my finger on the home button.
    A lot of what you said are misconceptions. There have been plenty of explanations regarding how FaceID works,  but this is a wrong thread for that. Read around and you will find plenty information, although I have a feeling that no amount of information is sufficient  to convince you so my advise is to wait until the X release. By the time you have used it in person, it might change your opinion totally.
    williamlondonredgeminipaStrangeDaysMuntzedredlostkiwicornchiplolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 83
    Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something?

    Yes, you are missing a lot of things. There are benchmarks which are NOT dependent on screen resolution. Even in ALL of those benchmarks, A11 is a champion. Guess which SoC is second in most of those benchmarks? No prices, if you guessed A10 from Apple.
    Then why does the iPhone 8 have a better overall score than the 8s, which in turn scores better than the X? Obviously resolution is playing a factor here, so the test is not a good Apples to Apples comparison. The test should pick a baseline resolution and measure all devices based on it. For example, you could say a laptop with an Nvidia 1060 "obliterates" the laptop with Nvidi 1080 at 4K because the "performance" is so much better, but that wound be entirely inaccurate because the 1080 is much more powerful.
    edited September 2017
  • Reply 17 of 83
    Salivating at the possibility of A12 in macbook
    cincymacGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 83
     cropr said:
    It's nice that the A11 outperforms the CPUs of other vendors, but the main question is: does it really matter?  I am using my iPhone 6s for calling, web browsing, emailing, checking my calendar, taking notes, paying, chatting, taking photos, checking bank account, playing music, checking public transport timetable.  And for none of these actions my iPhone 6s feels sluggish.   How impressive the A11 may be, I am not at all convinced that I will be more productive with a faster CPU.  
    One might say that the A11 is needed for face recognition, but I fail to see the advantage of face recognition versus TouchID.  I am pretty sure ApplyPay with face recognition will be more cumbersome ans slower to use than the current ApplePay.  The fact that I have to turn the phone to my face is inherently slower than putting my finger on the home button.
    Not sure about how you use Apple Pay but I find the following happens:

    When I double click to launch it I often end up on my home screen and have to press sleep then try again (I find it works better on my Apple Watch although thats a bit awkward to use with fixed readers).  Anyhoo, I have to look at the screen to make sure its ready to Pay then touch my finger and present the phone to the reader, so having to look at the phone to pay isn't going to be any different, maybe a bit more successful to invoke as Im not going to end up on the home screen.
    edited September 2017 redgeminipaStrangeDaysequality72521d_2welshdogwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 83
    Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something?

    Yes, you are missing a lot of things. There are benchmarks which are NOT dependent on screen resolution. Even in ALL of those benchmarks, A11 is a champion. Guess which SoC is second in most of those benchmarks? No prices, if you guessed A10 from Apple.
    Then why does the iPhone 8 have a better overall score than the 8s, which in turn scores better than the X? Obviously resolution is playing a factor here, so the test is not a good Apples to Apples comparison. The test should pick a baseline resolution and measure all devices based on it. For example, you could say a laptop with an Nvidia 1060 "obliterates" the laptop with Nvidi 1080 at 4K because the "performance" is so much better, but that wound be entirely inaccurate. 

    Because you are looking at a benchmark score, which IS dependent on resolution. And there is no 8s, I assume you meant 8+. Let me try to understand your original question - Aren't the A11's scores better because the iPhones are running at a lower resolution, or am I missing something? By this, you seem to be implying A11 is NOT as fast as SD 835/8895, but because it is powering lower resolution display, its benchmark scores are higher. For this, my response was - Don't look at the benchmarks which are dependent on resolution. Look at the benchmarks which are not dependent on resolution. First, you have to clarify what you implied in your original post. Then we can continue the discussion.

    edited September 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 83
    Animated emojis are nifty but I sure do hope that developers come up with more useful, or at least more fun, applications of the power of this chip. I imagine they probably will. 

    Sure would be nice if all this power were in a Mac, though. 
    watto_cobra
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