Apple’s A8: What it will be and why it matters

The move to 64-bit has been years in the making. But we did it because we wanted to put desktop-class processing power in the palm of people’s hands. – Apple iPhone 5s design web page [emphasis added]

“I began my article on the A7 chip from Apple (AAPL) with this quote from CEO Tim Cook, and noted how Apple seems to have tipped their hand as to their future plans,” J. M. Manness writes for Seeking Alpha. “In the quote, Cook referred to Apple’s new A7 processor found in the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air. This is the very first 64-bit processor in mobile products, and is a major technological advance. It has upped the ante in the mobile processor arms race, with Samsung indicating that it will create a 64-bit processor for next year’s Galaxy S5, although it is unlikely that they will not be able to have a 64-bit OS available in this time frame (as Apple does).”

“We know how Apple likes to use its ‘war chest’ of cash to help suppliers build out capacity,” Manness writes. “This means that we can expect that the A8 will be a 20nm chip, and significant[ly] more complex than its predecessor.”

“I expect the A8 to sport a quad-core CPU, perhaps even a 5-core CPU with the fifth core running very low voltage for energy savings on background tasks. It will maintain the surprising lead it has on single core processing, and jump ahead in multi-core processing, since it will now also have 5 cores,” Manness writes. “The A8 GPU will show a huge gain, sporting somewhere between 12 and 24 processing cores. It will jump to match at least Intel’s HD Graphics 4000. Particularly in the tablet market, this will differentiate the iPad, particularly wherever the power is needed, such as scientific and medical graphic applications. Obviously, this will be ideal for the new iPad Pro, the 13 inch model that speculation has coming early in 2014. While this is only rumor, not only is there so much noise on the topic, but it is clearly the next logical step, and so I think it very likely.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. One thing is certain: Moore’s Law still applies to this day and has years left. The A8—regardless of its actual details—will perform more calculations per second and perform more calculations per watt.

    The benefits to users will be both enhanced video performance (like 240 FPS in full HD), and longer battery life, which I’ll take in a New York second.

    Greg from his iPhone (which still allowed me em-dashes, typographer’s curly apostrophes, and HTML markup for italics while on the road)

  2. I’ll be up for a new phone come September when my next two year cycle kicks in. Glad I’m patient and didn’t rush to get a 5S. By the time the iPhone 6 rolls out, iOS 7.1 will be out, it will have an even better processor, and possibly come in several new sizes. A 4.7″ 64GB, gold model would be ideal for me. Something to look forward to.

    1. Yup, me too. I’m really glad I started with an iPhone 3, on two-year contracts; I reap the benefit of full model changes, rather than half-way iterations.
      Roll on the iPhone 6!

  3. I’m sure Nvidia said its 192-core Tegra K1 SoC paired with a Denver 64-bit 5-core Cortex-A15 was going to put Apple out of the mobile processor business once they put it in every $200 Android smartphone. Nvidia was claiming something like twice the power for half the price of Apple’s best AX processors. They were going to flood the entire smartphone market with them to make sure Android would hold on to an enormous lead in market share.


    1. If the A8 is indeed quad-core, its Geekbench score will have reached today’s MacBook Air levels. I’ve put together iPhone, iPad, maximum and minimum MBA Geekbench scores in a graph vs. time:

    2. Depends. I don’t see this as a mass market hit product (assuming it’s more than an early prototype without full development clearance), rather as a more nichey one aimed at medical/business/creative workers…

      ….and as a possible foray into seeing how many people are itching to ditch their notebooks for more productive tabs with larger screens.

  4. “…although it is unlikely that they will not be able to have a 64-bit OS available in this time frame.”

    So the writer is saying that Samscum WILL have a 64-bit OS for the launch of the S5?

  5. I think there is a typo in the article as quoted above. I think it is supposed to say:

    …although it is unlikely that they will be able to have a 64-bit OS available in this time frame (as Apple does).

    IOW: NO 64-bit Android for anyone, not yet. NO 64-bit Tisen either, if anyone cares.

    IOW: Having a 64-bit CPU for a 32-bit OS is pointless. You’re stuck doing 32-bit processing, so why bother?!

    IOW: HAHA! Apple is TWO years ahead of all of you! 😆

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