The iPhone’s new A10 Fusion chip should worry Intel

“In a game of chess, there are occasions when you’ll have almost your entire army of pieces still on the board, but positioned in such a way that their systematic downfall is all but assured. As The Matrix’s Agent Smith put it to an overweening police lieutenant, ‘your men are already dead,'” Vlad Savov writes for The Verge. “We may be experiencing such a moment in the tech industry today, thanks to Apple’s exceptional new A10 Fusion chip, which threatens to devour a big chunk of Intel’s heretofore imperious silicon army.”

“I’m not saying that Intel will be crippled or surpassed anytime soon. But I am arguing that the chip giant is under a substantial threat, the likes of which it hasn’t faced for a long time, maybe ever,” Savov writes. “A quick look at the Geekbench scores attained by the iPhone 7 quantifies a staggering achievement: the single-core performance of Apple’s latest generation of smartphone processors has basically caught up with Intel’s laptops CPUs.”

“The A10 chip inside the iPhone 7 comfortably outpaces its predecessors and Android rivals, and even outdoes a wide catalog of relatively recent Mac computers,” Savov writes. “It’s already the case, by sheer force of numbers, that Apple’s A series of mobile processors are at least as important and market-leading as Intel’s vast portfolio of x86 chips. But the present pseudo-equilibrium between them is being drastically upset by Apple’s leap in performance with the new A10 Fusion. By straying into the performance waters previously reserved for Intel’s laptop CPUs, Apple is teasing us with the question of why not inject the A10 (or its successors) into actual laptops? Why shouldn’t the next MacBook run on the same chip as the current iPhone? Granted, the MacBook’s macOS is based on x86 whereas the A chips all use the ARM architecture, but then an equally interesting question might be whether Apple shouldn’t just bite the bullet and make iOS its universal operating system.”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iOS devices and OS X Macs inevitably are going to grow closer over time, not just in hardware, but in software, too:

Think code convergence (more so than today) with UI modifications per device. A unified underlying codebase for Intel, Apple A-series, and, in Apple’s labs, likely other chips, too (just in case). This would allow for a single App Store for Mac, iPhone, and iPad users that features a mix of apps: Some that are touch-only, some that are Mac-only, and some that are universal (can run on both traditional notebooks and desktops as well as on multi-touch computers like iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and – pretty please, Apple – Apple TV). Don’t be surprised to see Apple A-series-powered Macs, either.MacDailyNews Take, January 9, 2014

Apple is a semiconductor powerhouse; expect the first ARM-based Macs to appear in 2016 – March 31, 2015
Apple’s blowout quarter predicted very accurately by same analyst who predicts ARM-based Macs – January 28, 2015
Five barriers that might keep Apple from moving Macs to custom ARM chips – January 16, 2015
Apple A-series-powered Macs are not only feasible, they may be inevitable – January 15, 2015
Why Apple dumping Intel processors would be disastrous – January 14, 2015
KGI: Apple is designing its own processors for Mac – January 14, 2015
Apple A9-powered MacBook Air? – December 16, 2014
Why Apple will switch to ARM-based Apple A-series-powered Macs – August 27, 2014
Intel-powered Macs: The end is nigh – August 4, 2014
Intel’s Broadwell chips further delayed; not shipping for most Macs until early-mid 2015 – July 9, 2014
Apple will inevitably drop Intel for their own A-series processors in the Mac – June 26, 2014
How long before Apple dumps Intel from MacBook Air? – June 26, 2013


  1. Makes you wonder what surprise Apple inc. has in store over the coming weeks, not only with the latest OSX Sierra release, but also their unusually quite stance on their Mac line, whether MacBooks, iMacs or indeed the Mac Pro.

    Could Intel be in for a further rude awakening on the processor front?

    1. Yes. Intel may start to have Apple-themed nightmares quite soon, because users need costly CPU power only sometimes and eGPUs may the perfect sollution.

      Lets think about similarities and differences between today tablets and laptops.

      Simmilarities: Both of this products may be used for work, entertainment, games, learning, etc. They are capable of the same functions, run the same programs.

      Differencies: Laptop has physical keyboard, quite strong processor and is powered by macOS. Tablet has touchscreen, strong processor and is powered by iOS.

      macOS is sporting more and more iOS / iOS like functionalities (Notifications, Launchpad, Siri). Coincidence? I dont think so.

      So is it really smart to have two product class which are so technically close to each other? No. And Apple will change it because of Ax processors.

      In 5 years I expect two master mergers:

      touchscreen laptop with optional keyboard run under iOS/macOS hybrid and powered A11/12/13 processors. You say you need more power? No problem attach 2/4/6/12/bazzillion eGPU boxes. You can buy / rent them. Work done? Get them back to vendor.

      wrist phone-computer with 4K 60P camera / health sensors/ 24h battery life.


      OK Its nothing new, but reinvented and masterfully crafted by Apple may be the future of personal computing for the next 10-15 years. Jobs always said that Apple need its own software and hardware to make perfect products. It may happen soon.

    2. What is even more astonishing is that the A10 operates for many hours on the relatively small batteries inside the iPhone. I assume that there will be an A10X in the next generation iPads with enhanced graphics performance – that is the version that will seed the transition of the MacBook Air to ARM-based processors. The A11 will spread the ARM-based CPU goodness into more of the Mac lineup. Given Apple’s incredible progress with A-series CPUs, we will likely see the end of x86 in the Mac by 2020.

  2. I almost think Apple would have to make the announcement about ARM Macs at WWDC. Otherwise, there would no apps available except the ones Apple makes. Considering the bang-up job they have been doing keeping their own apps up to date, we may be disappointed. 😉 Like with the PowerPC to Intel transition, they would have to give developers an ARM based Mac so they can start transitioning their apps. I have read on this forum many times that a Rosetta type translation layer would be much more difficult to create, if not impossible. I absolutely think ARM is the future, Apple just has to be careful with the roll out. I’m not sure the Intel to ARM transition could be rolled out as fast at the PowerPC to Intel transition.

      1. Stop and think for a moment.

        What could the addition of a small OLED screen on the palm rest of a MacBook Pro could do?

        Touch and keys/trackpad are two different modes of operation. I’m not convinced that I want keep my arm up on a near vertical MBPro screen while in iOS mode.

    1. I agree…..hopefully if we do see ARM chips in Macs then I hope it’s a completely separate line. Replacing X86 processors I think is a mistake on some of the levels with mainly compatibility.

  3. If it were any other company but Apple, the A10 Fusion processor would be considered having a great advantage over the competition. However, since it is Apple, the A10 Fusion will be mostly ignored as having any major significance.

    This is something I don’t understand. The A10 Fusion processor clearly leading any of the Android Snapdragon 820-class processors in performance but the tech pundits think a Quad-HD display is much more important on a smartphone. Just another case of Apple’s bad luck in being able to impress anyone with a unique component.

  4. This has huge implications for the next iPad. An A10X will be awesome. As far as laptops go I think Apple will play the long game. I can see them making something like MacBook Air with this. Most of those customers don’t need x86 compatibility and this would cut costs dramatically. It woulld be many years till Apple offers this in a high end Mac if only. Evacuee of x86 compatibility.

    1. I’m not too sure about that. If they can get this level of performance in a tiny device like an iPhone, imagine how much performance an 8-core A10 desktop variant running at 4+ ghz could bring in when thermal constraints aren’t as big of a deal? I think intel is scared and they should be, and Rosetta could work if there is a 2-3x performance delta over an x86 chip just like when the core duo had a 3x delta over the G4 it replaced. I wouldn’t put it past them to be able to figure this out. I know I bring this up a lot, but remember that PA Semi had a risc ppc variant that was over 2x faster than the core 2 duo in 2008 when apple bought them… there’s no reason they couldn’t have put that expertise into mobile and desktop chips simultaneously. And we had no idea the A4 was coming until it just showed up in the iPad 1st gen…. this is possible.

  5. Can I slap this guy?

    Apple is teasing us with the question of why not inject the A10 (or its successors) into actual laptops?

    No they’re not. You are. And that’s not going to happen unless Intel pulls a blunder on the order of IBM and their PowerPC mobile CPU blunder, which drove Apple go to Intel. And if it did happen, it would create havoc among Apple developers. And no, I’m not going to lecture as to why all over and over and over again. √ Done that.

    Why shouldn’t the next MacBook run on the same chip as the current iPhone? Granted, the MacBook’s macOS is based on x86 whereas the A chips all use the ARM architecture, but then an equally interesting question might be whether Apple shouldn’t just bite the bullet and make iOS its universal operating system.”

    Because iOS is a subset of OS X. This is where I want to slap the guy. Piles of people here at MDN have already put that awful idea in the grave specifically because we Mac users require a hell-of-a-lot more from our operating system than what iOS supplies. Tim Cook’s assertion to the contrary was one of his very worst public blunders. He was entirely wrong.

  6. Oh and good on ARM and Apple for keeping RISC alive and bringing it near to current x86 speeds!

    Now let’s compare the A10 Fusion to the stuff Qualcomm et al. are foisting into the Android crudware market! Leave them in the dust!

    1. Does CISC always run hotter than RISC? If so that would make CISC better for our tamales, and RISC better for our tomorrows.

      If CISC architecture cores have higher clock rates than RISC, then are they slower in principle because of relativistic time dilation?

      Does Apple’s new collaboration with IBM mean PPC in our time?

      Does RISC management imply that Apple is in fact selling insurance?

      Is the A-team on the verge of 86ing the x86 series?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.