Apple CPUs "just margins off" desktop CPUs - Anandtech

NTMBK

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Nov 14, 2011
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#1
The Apple A12 is a beast of a SoC. While the A11 already bested the competition in terms of performance and power efficiency, the A12 doubles down on it in this regard, thanks to Apple’s world-class design teams which were able to squeeze out even more out of their CPU microarchitectures. The Vortex CPU’s memory subsystem saw an enormous boost, which grants the A12 a significant performance boost in a lot of workloads. Apple’s marketing department was really underselling the improvements here by just quoting 15% - a lot of workloads will be seeing performance improvements I estimate to be around 40%, with even greater improvements in some corner-cases. Apple’s CPU have gotten so performant now, that we’re just margins off the best desktop CPUs; it will be interesting to see how the coming years evolve, and what this means for Apple’s non-mobile products.
https://www.anandtech.com/show/13392/the-iphone-xs-xs-max-review-unveiling-the-silicon-secrets/13

If I were Intel, I'd be worried.
 

Atari2600

Senior member
Nov 22, 2016
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#2
And the fourth line in the Desktop review he compared to.

"Given that SPEC is almost as much of a compiler benchmark as it is a hardware benchmark, we believe it's important to lay out our testing philosophy here."
 

deathBOB

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Dec 2, 2007
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#3

Atari2600

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Nov 22, 2016
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#4
Why? Apple is never going sell these chips to anyone else and their PC hardware business isn’t that big (although I bet it’s quite profitable for intel).

And Intel has a win on the modem.
If Apple had a server chip that could bring them in $$$, do you really think they wouldn't tool up to serve that market? Its another high margin product that would fit very well into Apple's philosophy.
 

krumme

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Oct 9, 2009
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#5
May 15, 2012
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#6
Now it is far to late for that. Blue team they should start worrying+do not underestimate competition five years ago.

Apple=high IPC as possible money is not a problem

AMD=hm but thay should be dead what happened?

Chinese Zhaoxin+VIA= new X86 CPU, well what can you do nothing

Please do not post videos that derail or have no contribution to the thread.

Daveybrat
AT Moderator
 
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Oct 27, 2006
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#7
Are they going to actually do anything? I mean I've seen these articles for yeeeeears, going back to Atom. For reference, this article references an earlier anand post that compared the SOC well to an Intel part, but it was an ultra low end Skylake with single channel memory.

Replacing Intel on the ~15W and under should absolutely be possible IMHO, but that's been true for years, and we haven't seen anything come of it. And when you think about it, it probably doesn't even interest Apple too much. iPhones are where they can put $280 BoM and sell it for $1000+. Do they really care about super thin margins in general PC environment? Probably not. And absolutely nothing that would be socketable/upgradable, that goes against everything they stand for.

At least they could probably get something for cheaper Mac skus if they could manage to get an MacOS build that could run x86 code well enough on their SOC so as not to struggle too much. That presents a challenge for them unless they want to abandon the higher performance market entirely (or release a lineup of competitive parts that could replace 4C/8T+ in MBP/iMac/Mac Pro all at once, thereby making a transition away from x86 much more streamlined).

IDK, I've just heard this for so many years that it starts to just sound like noise, and it's always *-compared to some super wimpy CPU in some very narrow benchmark.
 

krumme

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 2009
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#8
Are they going to actually do anything? I mean I've seen these articles for yeeeeears, going back to Atom. For reference, this article references an earlier anand post that compared the SOC well to an Intel part, but it was an ultra low end Skylake with single channel memory.

Replacing Intel on the ~15W and under should absolutely be possible IMHO, but that's been true for years, and we haven't seen anything come of it. And when you think about it, it probably doesn't even interest Apple too much. iPhones are where they can put $280 BoM and sell it for $1000+. Do they really care about super thin margins in general PC environment? Probably not. And absolutely nothing that would be socketable/upgradable, that goes against everything they stand for.

At least they could probably get something for cheaper Mac skus if they could manage to get an MacOS build that could run x86 code well enough on their SOC so as not to struggle too much. That presents a challenge for them unless they want to abandon the higher performance market entirely (or release a lineup of competitive parts that could replace 4C/8T+ in MBP/iMac/Mac Pro all at once, thereby making a transition away from x86 much more streamlined).

IDK, I've just heard this for so many years that it starts to just sound like noise, and it's always *-compared to some super wimpy CPU in some very narrow benchmark.
Ok. Now look at the spec 2006 numbers.
They are not the same as 4 years ago.
 

Glo.

Platinum Member
Apr 25, 2015
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#9
A12 is impressive.

I have one question.

What do you need this level of performance on a smartphone, for?
 

Elfear

Diamond Member
May 30, 2004
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#10
A12 is impressive.

I have one question.

What do you need this level of performance on a smartphone, for?
The A12 is very impressive and I had no idea Apple's chips were getting so close to desktop chips in some performance measures.
 

coercitiv

Diamond Member
Jan 24, 2014
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#11
What do you need this level of performance on a smartphone, for?
To watch it crumble in a few years under the pressure of low free RAM and decaying NAND performance.

PS: on a more serious note, they use the same cores for tablets, which can use the performance.
 
Mar 11, 2000
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#12
A12 is impressive.

I have one question.

What do you need this level of performance on a smartphone, for?
Some people might like it for games.

Other might like it for video processing. iPhones shoot 4Kp60 video, and while a lot of video processing would be done in hardware too, not everything would be I guess.

For me, I'm still using a 7 Plus with A10 here, which is fine for surfing. I predict they'll want to use some form of this in laptops in the near future though.
 
May 19, 2011
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#13
What does "just margins off" mean?
 

ninaholic37

Golden Member
Apr 13, 2012
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#14

Andrei.

Senior member
Jan 26, 2015
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#15
What does "just margins off" mean?
It means a certain figure that I don't want to publicly put in such a high profile article without having full confidence behind the comparison numbers on the desktop side until it's more thoroughly addressed in a dedicated article because everybody is going to quote it for months.

So it's a margin off.
 

CuriousMike

Platinum Member
Feb 22, 2001
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#16
What do you need this level of performance on a smartphone, for?
A smartphone is a computer, right?

It's arguably most peoples most important computer.

With a display resolution that sometimes exceeds peoples 1080p displays.

People do things on their smartphones (computers) that you do on your desktop - always connected, surfing, gaming, photo editing, video editing, document creating, running apps.

The smartphone is the masses "computer" nowadays.

More performance is always appreciated.
 
Oct 9, 2002
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#17
Does anyone make an app to run Windows (virtualized) on iOS? With current A12 performance, why not?

[edit]
Oh yeah. 4GB RAM.
 

NTMBK

Diamond Member
Nov 14, 2011
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#18
It means a certain figure that I don't want to publicly put in such a high profile article without having full confidence behind the comparison numbers on the desktop side until it's more thoroughly addressed in a dedicated article because everybody is going to quote it for months.

So it's a margin off.
Oh, you tease!
 

LightningZ71

Senior member
Mar 10, 2017
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#19
And those numbers are in a thermally and power delivery compromised package. What happens when they can run hotter and with a greater power budget for longer periods of time?

They are essentially "will" away from having a full consumer line of laptops and imacs.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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#20
> If I were Intel, I'd be worried.

In desktops, <5% of the market runs OS X.

In servers, it might hurt AMD more since conservative buyers would stick with intel, adventurous buyers would buy Apple instead of Ryzen.
 
Jan 12, 2005
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#21
This is performance in a highly constrained, propriatory software and hardware environment yes?

It would be interesting to see how it performs running in a similar environment to a regular Intel desktop chip.
 

french toast

Senior member
Feb 22, 2017
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#22
Unfortunately, as awesome as A12 is..iPhones are hampered by slow software, animations? Maybe, I also see animation stutter on the new iPhones in the videos I watched, apart from very heavy apps well designed android phones with inferior Snapdragon 845 best the new iPhones in speed tests...and in some cases have started to open some games just as fast...makes you wonder how fast android would be with A12+ super fast storage they equip it with.

They also artificially cripple their phones with until recently low ram and small batteries...I don't understand why they do that, their software engineers must be cursing about supporting earlier phones, not too bad past 3GB I suppose, but back in the day must have been a nightmare.

Really nice article Andrei as always, no storage tests/speaker tests though?..I guess you are going to do a AI/ML chip comparison when the Kirin 980 arrives?.. probably best that way.

I think Apple will wait until their processors (CPU/GPU) completely smash the x86 competition before migrating software over to ARM, not need to rush.
 
Oct 9, 2002
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#23
...
I think Apple will wait until their processors (CPU/GPU) completely smash the x86 competition before migrating software over to ARM, not need to rush.
A12 would already smash x86 processors completely if you package it like a desktop CPU, give it a big heatsink like a desktop CPU, and give it a similar amount of power compared to a desktop CPU.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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#24
It's laptop x86 they'd replace so they need to compete with those CPUs not the 8700K. Apple doesn't care about desktops, they go eleventy years between updates to their last one (the Mini).
 

USER8000

Golden Member
Jun 23, 2012
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#25
All these comparisons are all great and that,but it is always mobile chips in their most optimal environment against desktop chips in a lesser one.

Apple has a very wide and low clockspeed core,running its own custom OS using its own tweaks. The Intel and AMD CPUs are designed to scale to much higher clockspeeds and are running a range of OSes.

Its not really a fair comparison - you ideally need to run all the chips under one environment.

Just scaling to higher clockspeeds is not easy - compare Jaguar and Piledriver(similar single threaded IPC),or various IBM Power designs and Apple is relying on jumping to new nodes early to get these performance jumps.

CPUs need to be designed to hit higher clockspeeds in the first place. You can't just expect a low frequency design to suddenly hit higher clockspeeds,or suddenly a design which scales to a few watts,to suddenly be able to scale upwards to higher TDP classes.

Then just because a dual core CPU looks great in a narrow range of tests,you can't suddenly expect it to scale well upto 8 cores or 16 cores without any major issues on the way.

AMD and Intel have had to stay on older nodes and optimise from there,and the way things are going shrinks are getting harder and harder. So what happens if Apple hits the issue of not being able to suddenly have a nice new node,and has to make do with an older one??

Also look at how huge the A12 is - 88MM2 for a dual core CPU with integrated graphics on the latest TSMC 7NM process. Look at the 6 core Intel Core i7 CPUs running upto 5GHZ - they are 149MM on a less dense process and probably having far less transistors.

The amount of transistors Apple is throwing at this is huge. The A12 is 6.9 billion transistors - the Ryzen 4 core APUs and 8 core CPUs are under 5 billion transistors.

Plus the Intel and AMD CPUs are more general purpose - I would like to see how the Apple core would fare,if it were designed to run at 4GHZ~5GHZ on a less optimal process node,running more complex operations like video encoding,rendering,etc or even very complex gaming workloads at max IQ. Then use that under Windows.

But the thing is since phones and tablets bring lots of clicks,the whole tech press has to overhype everything like its the next coming of Jebus.

Plus even when it comes to core performance,most of the world's population is running not even the latest and greatest Android devices,or even the fastest Windows PCs.

Is clicking on the Amazon app to buy some trainers suddenly going to be realistically any different between a 3 year old iPhone and the latest one,or some £250 Android one??

All this performance in a phone is great,but its really only a marketing point to justify the premium price,and sounds like the megapixel war with dSLRs and compacts.

This is why people are keeping phones longer and longer - its happening with laptops,desktops,etc.

 
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