Apple A12: 7 nm, 6.9 billion transistors, 6-core & A12X: 7 nm, >10 billion transistors, 8-core

Mar 11, 2000
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#1
A12 Bionic

7 nm, presumably TSMC
6.9 billion transistors
512 GB addressable storage
6-core with 2 big and 4 LITTLE cores (No, Apple didn't use the big.LITTLE terminology)
big cores are 15% faster and 40% more efficient
LITTLE cores are 50% more efficient
All 6 cores can be used simultaneously
5 trillion OPs per second for new Neural Engine (Old one did 0.6 trillion.)
4-core GPU

--
A12X Bionic

7 nm
>10 billion transistors
1 TB addressable storage
8-core with 4 big and 4 LITTLE cores (No, Apple didn't use the big.LITTLE terminology)
All 8-cores can be used simultaneously
5 trillion OPs per second for new Neural Engine
Single-core 35% faster than old iPad Pros (A10X)
Multi-core 90% faster than old iPad Pros (A10X)
7-core GPU
A12X GPU 2X previous GPU, and 1000X original iPad
Xbox One S class GPU in a 94% smaller volume. ;)
 
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ChronoReverse

Platinum Member
Mar 4, 2004
2,562
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#2
This will be the first real 7nm mobile chip that's shipping right? At least we can count on Apple.
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#3
This will be the first real 7nm mobile chip that's shipping right? At least we can count on Apple.
Yes. There is a Huawei though, also 6.9 billion transistors.

Kirin 980 which is Cortex A76. 2x2 big and 4 LITTLE cores.
 
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jpiniero

Diamond Member
Oct 1, 2010
6,493
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#4
Too bad about the small CPU improvement. The A11 is 4.3B transistors, so this is a nice increase... probably due to the GPU and the DL cores.
 

ChronoReverse

Platinum Member
Mar 4, 2004
2,562
5
91
#5
Yes. There is a Huawei though, also 6.9 billion transistors.

Kirin 980 which is Cortex A76. Also 2 big and 4 LITTLE cores.
I know Huawei announced their 980, but it's not actually going to be purchasable before the new iPhone so their claims of first is just a paper launch unless they get it out enmasse.
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#6
Too bad about the small CPU improvement. The A11 is 4.3B transistors, so this is a nice increase... probably due to the GPU and the DL cores.
I hope the claims of improved power efficiency by 40-50% are real. I'd be happy enough with that even if the claimed 15% CPU performance improvement is not huge.

I'm not much of a GPU user on these phones, so increased power efficiency of the CPU is nice for me. I just hope they don't decrease the battery size to compensate.
 

Ajay

Diamond Member
Jan 8, 2001
5,231
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#7
Too bad about the small CPU improvement. The A11 is 4.3B transistors, so this is a nice increase... probably due to the GPU and the DL cores.
Still double digit gains in performance with huge power savings at the same time!
 

Ajay

Diamond Member
Jan 8, 2001
5,231
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#8
I'm not much of a GPU user on these phones, so increased power efficiency of the CPU is nice for me. I just hope they don't decrease the battery size to compensate.
Keep the battery the same for longer battery life IMHO.
 
Apr 27, 2000
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#9
Still double digit gains in performance with huge power savings at the same time!
Apple just keeps coming. Hmm.

Hey whatever happened to the A11x?
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#10
Keep the battery the same for longer battery life IMHO.
Oh, they addressed it.

Apple claims 30 minutes longer battery life for the XS over the X, and 90 minutes longer for the XS Max over the X.

I don't know what that actually means in terms of the battery size, or what they're even measuring, but nonetheless it does seem the higher efficiency of the SoC is reality.

7 nm for the win!
 

scannall

Golden Member
Jan 1, 2012
1,402
253
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#11
Too bad about the small CPU improvement. The A11 is 4.3B transistors, so this is a nice increase... probably due to the GPU and the DL cores.
If Intel pulled a %15 increase people would be drooling all over the place. ;-)
 

beginner99

Diamond Member
Jun 2, 2009
4,155
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#12
I hope the claims of improved power efficiency by 40-50% are real.
Well this is for the small cores only of the SOC. And most of the power isn't actually used by cores (unless you game on your smartphone) but more by the display, radios, GPS,.... So the end-effect on battery life will be tiny.
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#13
The pricing in Canada is insane. The 256 GB iPhone XS Max costs exactly the same as my 256 GB MacBook 12" Core m3.

It'd be nice if we could eventually merge these phones into a laptop dock to run macOS. These SoCs are already faster than my MacBook m3-7Y32 so the performance is there.
 

Cardyak

Junior Member
Sep 12, 2018
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#14
Do we have any information where the A12’s 15% performance increase comes from? Has the clock speed been increased or are we talking pure IPC increases via architectural improvements?
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#15
Do we have any information where the A12’s 15% performance increase comes from? Has the clock speed been increased or are we talking pure IPC increases via architectural improvements?
Not yet, but we should find out soon about clock speeds, whenever the reviews have been done and the publication embargo ends.

The journalists are not allowed to install benchmarketing software on the demos at the launch.
 

ZipSpeed

Golden Member
Aug 13, 2007
1,252
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#16
The pricing in Canada is insane. The 256 GB iPhone XS Max costs exactly the same as my 256 GB MacBook 12" Core m3.

It'd be nice if we could eventually merge these phones into a laptop dock to run macOS. These SoCs are already faster than my MacBook m3-7Y32 so the performance is there.
Very insane. I just looked up the receipt from 2016. I paid $1309 + tax for my iPhone 7 Plus 256GB. $1729 for the XS Max 256GB. The performance is still very good with my 7 Plus, so I'm probably going to wait till 2019 for my next upgrade.
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
759
51
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#17
Do we have any information where the A12’s 15% performance increase comes from? Has the clock speed been increased or are we talking pure IPC increases via architectural improvements?
The frequency increase must be very small, otherwise they would not have achieved a 40% efficiency increase when going 7nm. In conclusion, the larger part most likely comes from IPC increase.
 

Ajay

Diamond Member
Jan 8, 2001
5,231
237
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#18
Apple just keeps coming. Hmm.

Hey whatever happened to the A11x?
Do know. Could be the 11x is targeted toward the next iPad. That, or Apple just skipped it this generation to maximize A12 production.
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
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#19
Very insane. I just looked up the receipt from 2016. I paid $1309 + tax for my iPhone 7 Plus 256GB. $1729 for the XS Max 256GB. The performance is still very good with my 7 Plus, so I'm probably going to wait till 2019 for my next upgrade.
Greetings, my fellow Canadian. :)

I just checked the pricing on my 2016 iPhone 7 Plus too, and for my 128 GB model, it was $1179 plus tax. 64 GB is a bit small for me, but 128 GB is perfect. Yes, it's nice that the new A12 Bionic can address 512 GB of storage, but that's total overkill for me. Since there is no 128 GB option, the option for me to not be constrained would be 256 GB this time around, meaning a $1729 price, or almost 50% more (!) than the pricing in 2016 for my current phone. Wow.

BTW, I wonder how much TSMC is getting paid for these chips. It seems Apple (through TSMC) is driving the world's 7 nm advancement almost on their own.
 
Mar 11, 2000
22,595
1
106
#20
The pricing in Canada is insane. The 256 GB iPhone XS Max costs exactly the same as my 256 GB MacBook 12" Core m3.

It'd be nice if we could eventually merge these phones into a laptop dock to run macOS. These SoCs are already faster than my MacBook m3-7Y32 so the performance is there.
P.S. Apple was working on this in theory at least at some point. This is from their patent filing:

 

Kenmitch

Diamond Member
Oct 10, 1999
7,216
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#21
Holly smokes!....I can't wait to not get one.
 
Sep 11, 2010
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#22
I hope the claims of improved power efficiency by 40-50% are real. I'd be happy enough with that even if the claimed 15% CPU performance improvement is not huge.

I'm not much of a GPU user on these phones, so increased power efficiency of the CPU is nice for me. I just hope they don't decrease the battery size to compensate.
The REAL question is whether the new CPU is hardened against SPECTRE class attacks...
The reason this matters is that my guess is that there are, essentially, NO IPC micro-architecture improvements this time round. (If we assume the GB4 leak from a few months ago is legit, that had frequency as 2.5GHz and 128KB L1's, which could perhaps cover the entire 15% speed boost; perhaps with some minor tweaks or fixes to the A11 design).
My suspicion is that partway through the A12 CPU design, in the face of SPECTRE, everything else was frozen and focus switched to fixing every speculative path they could imagine through the core. Which is, of course, disappointing, but necessary; and means there will be more improvements queued up for next year.

Why didn't Apple announce this during the talk? One possibility is that it's hard to excite people about. On the one hand you're saying "our old cores had this problem [and by the way we're still selling those cores in the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, HomePod, AppleTV, etc...]", on the other hand you're saying "now prepare to be excited about this extremely technical, extremely difficult to explain set of changes we made, which will make zero difference to your iPhone experience".

So that's what I'm looking for --- once these things get out into the world, and we see what the hackers have to say about where the cores are, or are not, vulnerable.
 
Sep 11, 2010
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#23
Apple just keeps coming. Hmm.

Hey whatever happened to the A11x?
I think it's pretty clear that they've concluded that (at least for now) the tablet market can be served well enough through updates every two years rather than every year. (And they're probably correct; the iPad Pro is still a beast...)

This will probably set a template for the ARM Macs as well. Doing the numbers, people claim Apple Mac volumes are not large enough to support custom SoCs for Macs, but that sort of thinking ignores a variety of ways you can save money. One obvious way is, as I've suggested, to update the SoC every two years. Obviously you'll use the core already designed for iPhone+iPad, though likely with tweaks around the uncore to improve scaling to more CPUs. Finally you use something like EMIB or AMD's interposer, so that you have a single baseline Mac SoC (maybe 4big+4small cores) and you use, I don't know, one in low end laptops, two in pro laptops, and mac minis, three in iMacs, 4 in iMac Pros, 8 in Mac Pros)?
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
759
51
116
#24
The REAL question is whether the new CPU is hardened against SPECTRE class attacks...
The reason this matters is that my guess is that there are, essentially, NO IPC micro-architecture improvements this time round. (If we assume the GB4 leak from a few months ago is legit, that had frequency as 2.5GHz and 128KB L1's, which could perhaps cover the entire 15% speed boost; perhaps with some minor tweaks or fixes to the A11 design).
As i already stated a few posts above, the 40% efficiency increase can only be explained by IPC improvements. That the necessary IPC increase comes from L1$ increase is doubtful.
 

Thala

Senior member
Nov 12, 2014
759
51
116
#25
Obviously you'll use the core already designed for iPhone+iPad, though likely with tweaks around the uncore to improve scaling to more CPUs. Finally you use something like EMIB or AMD's interposer, so that you have a single baseline Mac SoC (maybe 4big+4small cores) and you use, I don't know, one in low end laptops, two in pro laptops, and mac minis, three in iMacs, 4 in iMac Pros, 8 in Mac Pros)?
Precisely. If i am looking at the available IP from ARM scaling is trivial. DSU supports up to 8 cores (A55, A75, A76) per cluster with 256bit CHI or ACE coherent system ports. Now when licensing the coherent interconnect as well i can connect several DSU clusters coherently and voila - i have a 16, 32 or 64 core ARM system just with licensed IP plugged together. For memory controller i have quite a few options from ARM, Cadence and Synopsis as well.
 


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