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Apple's A7 Processor Truly 'Desktop Class', iOS Apps Don't Take Full Advantage

apple_a7AnandTech provides a detailed analysis of Apple's A7 (ARM-based) mobile processor which was introduced in the iPhone 5s. The latest information and analysis comes from Apple's own code changes to the LLVM Compiler project.

While AnandTech goes into great detail on the architecture of the A7 chip and how it compares to the A6, they conclude that the A7 chip is indeed -- as Apple claimed -- "desktop class" and "the rest of the players in the ultra mobile CPU space didn't aim high enough". In fact, they found that there are almost no iOS apps that take full advantage of the A7 processor. The processor even seems overpowered for the current devices in both RAM bottlenecks and battery consumption.

Qualcomm chief marketing officer originally described the 64-bit A7 as a "marketing gimmick" but Qualcomm later backtracked on that statement. Another Qualcomm employee then said that the 64-bit Apple chip "hit us in the gut."
"Not just us, but everyone, really. We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared. It’s not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won’t benefit. But in Spinal Tap terms it’s like, 32 more, and now everyone wants it."
Any reference to "desktop class" Apple processors may remind readers that there have been recurring rumors that Apple has been testing ARM processor based MacBook Airs. Apple even threatened that it would stop using Intel chips due to concerns over power consumption. AMD or even ARM were speculated to be possible alternatives.

Related roundups: iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6

Top Rated Comments

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17 weeks ago

Wait! I thought 1GB is more than sufficient and there would be no point in having 2GB of RAM in any iDevice! (At least Apple fanboys state this...)


:rolleyes: Setting aside your strawman argument, a RAM bottleneck refers to the speed of the RAM, not the amount of memory.
Rating: 48 Votes
17 weeks ago
I think its hilarious that even Apple's old dual core A6 processor in the iPhone 5C from last year's model is on par with current top of the line" hexacore" Android phones like Galaxy S5.

The 64 bit A7 is in a whole 'nother league. Just goes to show how much more advanced iOS and their engineering team is combined with Apple's philosophy of precisely matching software with hardware. My guess is they have big plans for iOS and the A8 chip. Much bigger than just a phone.
Rating: 35 Votes
17 weeks ago
It'll power some nice games in that new Apple TV ;)
Rating: 30 Votes
17 weeks ago

Wait! I thought 1GB is more than sufficient and there would be no point in having 2GB of RAM in any iDevice! (At least Apple fanboys state this...)


You do realise that we are individuals with our own opinions, and there is no consensus on the amount of RAM that is adequate, so lumping us into a group of 'fanboys' that think one way makes for a poor argument. There are plenty of us that consider 1GB insufficient with the 64bit architecture.
Rating: 14 Votes
17 weeks ago

The processor even seems overpowered for the current devices in both RAM bottlenecks and battery consumption.


Wait! I thought 1GB is more than sufficient and there would be no point in having 2GB of RAM in any iDevice! (At least Apple fanboys state this...)
Rating: 13 Votes
17 weeks ago

You're wrong. You asked me for a proof of Apple fanboys' usual Apple-defence of stating 1GB is sufficient and iDevices wouldn't really profit for more RAM. I did present you an example of this from an otherwise well-regarded, helpful (but seriously biased for Apple) guy with thousands of posts (read: he isn't a "noname" over at the Apple forums of DPR.)


You really can't tell the difference between "there would be no point in having 2GB of RAM in any iDevice" and "we think 1 GB is a good compromise at this time"?
Rating: 12 Votes
17 weeks ago

Wait! I thought 1GB is more than sufficient and there would be no point in having 2GB of RAM in any iDevice! (At least Apple fanboys state this...)


We were specifically talking about the way in which iOS 6 and iOS 7 runs apps. (Which is to say, one at a time with some exceptions.) More RAM will obviously be needed once iOS expands its capabilities in future versions.

You apparently missed half of the conversation.
Rating: 10 Votes
17 weeks ago

What? This is nonsense. No one ever said that.


Absolutely wrong. This "1GB is sufficient" is very frequently stated by Apple fanboys - see my just-posted link & quotation at http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?p=18945816&postcount=24
Rating: 10 Votes
17 weeks ago

Any reference to "desktop class" Apple processors may remind readers that there have been recurring rumors that Apple has been testing (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/05/27/apple-testing-an-arm-a5-powered-macbook-air/) ARM processor based MacBook Airs. Apple even threatened (http://www.macrumors.com/2011/08/11/apple-threatened-to-abandon-intel-chips-over-power-consumption/) that they would stop using Intel chips due to concerns over power consumption. AMD or even ARM were speculated to be possible alternatives.

Article Link: Apple's A7 Processor Truly 'Desktop Class', iOS Apps Don't Take Full Advantage (http://www.macrumors.com/2014/03/31/apple-a7-desktop-class/)


Doubt it.

It will be awhile before Macs go to ARM-powered chips. At least ... if you believe the guy who you're citing in the article.

Additionally, having a non- x86 MBA would be such a PITA, in terms of software compatability.

I doubt Apple would fragment the Mac lineup like that. It's OK for iPad, since the entire app ecosystem is different. But it won't fly on a laptop anytime soon.
Rating: 9 Votes
17 weeks ago

:rolleyes: Setting aside your strawman argument, a RAM bottleneck refers to the speed of the RAM, not the amount of memory.


You're totally wrong. A citation from the original article:

"The other problem I see is that although Cyclone is incredibly forward looking, it launched in devices with only 1GB of RAM. It's very likely that you'll run into memory limits before you hit CPU performance limits if you plan on keeping your device for a long time."


That is, it's the (meager, particularly in 64-bit devices) size of the RAM that is the bottleneck, and not the speed of it.
Rating: 9 Votes

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