Apple’s remarkable new A10, S2, W1 chips alter the semiconductor landscape

“Apple is very well known for developing its own semiconductor IP when it finds it necessary to improve the experience or deem its suppliers to not meet its needs,” Anshel Sag writes for Forbes. “This is why Apple has been developing its own custom ARM SoCs since day one while still licensing its GPU IP from Imagination Technologies. This includes its new A10 Fusion chip which features Apple’s first quad core processor design that has two different sized cores.”

“This isn’t a big.LITTLE design, this is more of Apple’s own take on that architecture with shared caches and a bridge ‘chip’ to optimize for power and performance,” Sag writes. “Apple has stated that the A10 is 40% faster than the A9. The two high-efficiency cores in the A10 fusion are supposed to operate at 1/5 the power, which is designed to improve battery life — all of this while beefing up the GPU to be 50% faster than the A9 at 2/3 the power.”

“The new Apple Watch has an S2 dual core SoC with built-in GPS, which is claimed to have a 50% faster CPU and significantly faster GPU to enable apps to run at 60 FPS on the Apple Watch. I actually believe that this is a great improvement,” Sag writes. “Additionally, Apple’s new W1 chip complements its A10 Fusion chip with a custom design to enable unique Apple wireless audio features. This also presents an opportunity for Apple in that they could theoretically sell the W1 to their closest audio partners and make money from each headphone sold… This may also push the entire Bluetooth market forward in ways that nobody has foreseen before.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once again, Apple leads. Good luck trying to follow, slavish copiers.

Apple owning the primary technologies is, as always, crucial.

I’ve always wanted to own and control the primary technology in everything we do. – Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004

[Apple’s] reason for being is the same as it’s always been — to make the world’s best products that really enrich people’s lives. That hasn’t changed. And we do that through owning the primary technologies. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, August 9, 2016


  1. We continue hearing *crickets* from the Fandroid clueless, huh, wonder why that is? Feeling stupider by the SamSplode minute yet? Trusting in a microwave oven & explosive devices manufacturer gets you squat except Darwin relief. As Phil might say – “SamStinks an innovator my ass!!”

    1. Same reason MDN gets paid to reprint what other publications offer — ad clicks.

      I keep looking for more W1 info to see what the heck it brings to the table other than semi-automated bluetooth pairing. That seems to be it. Any claim of superior sound hasn’t been confirmed by teardown or objective testing.

  2. “Apple is very well known for developing its own semiconductor IP when it finds it necessary to improve the experience or deem its suppliers to not meet its needs.”

    I hope they are at hard at work to replace Intel, who definitely can’t meet their needs anymore. The Intel “tick-tock” model just doesn’t coincide with Apple’s needs anymore. They remind me of IBM in the Power Mac days, who sort of just gave up trying to make anything Apple needed.

  3. Apple’s slew of chips are completely overlooked by the tech pundits and analysts. They think they’re nothing special. To the tech critics, the A10 is no better than the Snapdragon 820. Apple’s A-series isn’t even considered as being innovative by the tech-heads and I really don’t understand why.

  4. Super specialized home-baked chips really seem one competence area (among many) where Apple is years ahead of the competition. And the notion that you do with a silicon and software what camera companies are still trying to do with glass just shows that Apple thinks about problems in entirely different ways.

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