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iPhone 6s's A9 Processor Racks Up Impressive Benchmarks 213

MojoKid writes: Underneath the hood of Apple's new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models is a new custom designed System-on-Chip (SoC) that Apple has dubbed its A9 processor. It's a 64-bit chip that, according to Apple, is the most advanced ever built for any smartphone, and that's just one of many claims coming out of Cupertino. Apple is also claiming a level of gaming performance on par with dedicated game consoles and with a graphics engine that's 90 percent faster than the previous generation. For compute chores, Apple says the A9 chip improves overall CPU performance by up to 70 percent. These performance promises come without divulging too much about the physical makeup of the A9, though in testing its dual-core SoC does seem to compete well with the likes of Samsung's octal-core Exynos chips found in the Galaxy S6 line. Further, in intial graphics benchmark testing, the A9 also leads the pack in mosts tests, sometimes by a healthy margin, even besting Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in tests like 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited.
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iPhone 6s's A9 Processor Racks Up Impressive Benchmarks

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  • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @01:10PM (#50613929)
    IIRC, didn't Apple crow about increasing the CPU - RAM bandwidth by a fair bit? That tends to speed up nearly everything. Yeah, they went from LPDDR3 to LPDDR4.
  • My roommate claims that the iPhone 6s is faster than the iPhone 5c I traded in. The Amazon Kindle app doesn't appear to be running any faster than before. Then again, email, news and text don't require that much speed.
  • I'm struggling to understand how apple get away with not announcing any info about the codes, the cache size, memory bandwidth etc. Surely on a mobile device with limited power, optimisation of applications is a priority. How do people manage this without any idea of the physical architecture of the machine they are developing for?

    Maybe i'm just old school, but knowing what hardware you are targeting is almost the first bit of info which informs an efficient use of the resources available.

    • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @02:15PM (#50614521)

      I'm struggling to understand how apple get away with not announcing any info about the codes, the cache size, memory bandwidth etc. Surely on a mobile device with limited power, optimisation of applications is a priority. How do people manage this without any idea of the physical architecture of the machine they are developing for?

      Maybe i'm just old school, but knowing what hardware you are targeting is almost the first bit of info which informs an efficient use of the resources available.

      Ah, you must be nearly as old as I!

      Nowadays, that stuff is almost always left up to the Optimization "pass" of the Compiler. These young whippersnappers wouldn't know how to code tightly in Assembly if their life depended on it.

      And have you ever coded in ARM Assembler?!? Talk about an instruction set that is optimized for Compilers, not humans!!! I did do some stuff in ARMv7 Assembly; but I wouldn't have enjoyed coding a bunch of stuff in it (and I LOVE coding in Assembly Language!).

      And as far as "efficient use of resources" goes: Again, that is largely a consideration of the past. These systems have SOOOOO much available, well, everything that, in a lot of use-cases, you can just code as if the sky's the limit. Because it usually is...

      • Well, when targeting a machine with large numbers of cores, memory and power, sure - it's a better tradeoff to avoid too much optimisation, and go for maintainability over raw performance. I know that, I do this all the time. As for writing assembler, my assembler days are long gone. The last I did was a bit of 56k maybe 10 years ago for an audio pipeline. The closest I get these days is looking at the output of the compiler ;-)

        However, when the user base is continuously worried about battery drain, how do

      • by seoras ( 147590 )

        I must be old. First assembly I ever coded in was 6502 on a BBC B, 2nd was ARM on my Acorn Archimedes just as I was starting University.
        I wrote a paper for my 1st year course on microprocessor design comparing the compiled output for a C function from a Sequent x386, a Sinclair XL 68000 and the ARM.
        The truly astounding thing was that the ARM compiler took 1/3 of the instructions to complete the same task as the compilers for the old processor architectures.
        Which, I'm proud to say, was then quoted in class b

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      If you're a developer, you sign up for the program and learn the ecosystem. If you're a consumer, you don't care about the hardware specs and want a good user interface experience.
    • by jon3k ( 691256 )
      Because 99% of humanity doesn't even know what any of that stuff means. They just want to know if it's fast and does what they want it to do. Just like most people don't give a shit how many valves or overhead cams their car has. They just want to know if it's fast and reliable. That's what the tech world will never understand about Apple. It's not for the 1% comprising the tech community.
  • I wonder if Apple would ever consider moving OS/X away from Intel and over to ARM, allowing them to use their A series CPUs? If not, why not?

    • I strongly suspect OS X already runs on ARM and is doing that as we speak.

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        I'm quite sure OS X has been running on ARM ever since Apple went to 64-bit parts in iOS devices. If Apple ships a non-intel Mac in the future, I expect them to start with the smaller portables, with an eye to maximizing battery life.

        -jcr

    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      Apple reportedly has the Mac OS X running on the ARM processor. If Intel ever becomes an reliable partner as IBM was with the PowerPC, Apple would switch over to their CPUs. Intel's development cycles aren't always in sync with Apple's marketing cycles.
    • I wonder if Apple would ever consider moving OS/X away from Intel and over to ARM, allowing them to use their A series CPUs? If not, why not?

      Other people have asked whether Apple will switch Macs to an ARM processor...

      But at this point an iPhone 6s is powerful enough that with a bluetooth keyboard and video output it could be turned into a reasonably powerful desktop computer at minimal cost. Or they could build a laptop shell with keyboard, trackpad and display and a slot to push in your iPhone to power it; no idea how much this could be built for.

  • by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @04:11PM (#50615391) Homepage

    "Apple is also claiming a level of gaming performance on par with dedicated game consoles"

    Which is just one more reason I can't understand why they didn't put this in the new Apple TV, and instead put in the older A8.

    The resolution of the iPhone is basically 1080p, and according to the benches, the A9 can drive it to (as they put it) "console level performance".

    The A8 can't. And since that's what's going into the ATV, that means the games on the new ATV will *not* have "console level performance".

    WHY?!?!

    No, don't say it's production quantities. Apple will sell 20x iPhones and iPads as ATVs (or more), this is a rounding error.

    Form factor changed too, so if you needed more room for heat or power, that's not an issue either.

  • Maybe I'm getting old but yeah.. "eh". The big bottlenecks for me are always RAM and storage IO. I don't really care these days about CPU performance for phones other than for battery numbers. It isn't even like Apple is pushing any sort of cool VR solution that could justify some technolust over CPU specs.
    • Actually, according to Anandtech, there seems to be a significant upgrade to Apple's IO on the 6s and 6s+--it looks like they took the SSD controller from a laptop and crammed it in there: http://anandtech.com/show/9662... [anandtech.com]

      "Previous writers on the site have often spoken of Apple’s custom NAND controllers for storage in the iPhone, but I didn’t really understand what this really meant. In the case of the iPhone 6s, it seems that this means Apple has effectively taken their Macbook SSD controller a

  • I knock Apple because of their rabid fan base and exhorbitant pricing, but they do have good engineers and produce some pretty damned solid hardware. Fair is fair -- they're better than HP was in their heyday!

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