We know that iPhones have the best raw performance numbers and the best real-life use experience. Don’t knock us, knock the numbers. The latest set of them, though, digs into why the iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus — and the A10 Fusion processor inside them — so painfully outperform its competition from Qualcomm and Samsung.
No, we’re not just talking about optimizations between your hardware and software.
According to a Chipworks teardown commissioned by the Linley Group, Apple designs big cores. The high-power “Hurricane” cores outsize Qualcomm’s Kyro cores, found in the Snapdragon 820, by 50 percent. Hurricanes are more than double the size of Samsung’s M1 cores that are in the Exynos 8890.
A duo of Hurricane cores, though, only make half the A10 Fusion chip. The more power-efficient “Zephyr” cores are way smaller (0.78mm² vs. the Hurricane’s 4.18mm²), but are still bigger than the typical Cortex-A53 design from ARM (0.45mm²).
And since many apps use two cores at the most simultaneously, having more transistors per core can definitely help. Having more places to delegate instructions to might not help space efficiency, but it definitely helps clock efficiency.
In fact, performance is so good that analyst Linley Gwennap thinks that Intel has a bundle on its hands.
“Apple’s CPU prowess is beginning to rival Intel’s,” said Gwennap. “In fact, the new Hurricane could easily support products such as the MacBook Air that today use lower-speed Intel chips.”
If Apple-sorry, TSMC made chips with units the size of a Skylake core and ship them with MacBooks, then we could really see Infinite Loop become a crown in a different type of hardware. Who said software and services were the way to go again?