Why Apple’s A10 Fusion is insanely impressive

“For quite some time, Apple has been cranking out one crazy-impressive mobile processor after another,” Ashraf Eassa writes for The Motley Fool. “This year’s A10 chip, unsurprisingly, contains the fastest processor cores ever crammed into a smartphone — bar none. The processor performance of even Apple’s prior-generation A9 has yet to be matched by any other mobile processor maker.”

“Until now, it was something of a mystery as to whether Apple’s high-efficiency cores were an internal Apple design or simply an off-the-shelf, low-power processor like ARM Holdings’ Cortex A53,” Eassa writes. “Thanks to some work done by the Linley Group (via Barron’s), that mystery is now solved.”

“The Linley Group says that Apple’s high-efficiency core is a processor that Apple has codenamed Zephyr. The core is quite small, taking up just 0.78 square millimeters of area on the A10 processor (much smaller than Apple’s high-performance Hurricane core found on the same chip), though the Linley Group says it’s a bit larger than ARM’s Cortex A53 (but I’d imagine that it’s more powerful as well). What’s interesting about Zephyr, though, isn’t necessarily its power or performance but instead the mere fact that it exists,” Eassa writes. “That Apple has designed an all-new processor core specifically to serve as a ‘high-efficiency’ counterpart to a high-performance core suggests that the company has built its processor/chip teams out even further.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: This speaks volumes: “The processor performance of even Apple’s prior-generation A9 has yet to be matched by any other mobile processor maker.”

Apple’s A10 Fusion chip ‘blows away the competition,’ could easily power MacBook Air – Linley Group – October 21, 2016
Apple’s A10 Fusion chip miracle – September 20, 2016
The iPhone’s new A10 Fusion chip should worry Intel – September 16, 2016
Apple’s remarkable new A10, S2, W1 chips alter the semiconductor landscape – September 15, 2016
Wired reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: ‘Fantastic’ – September 14, 2016
Sprint, T-Mobile: iPhone 7/Plus pre-orders up 4X over last year; Apple shares surge – September 13, 2016
USA Today’s Baig reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: ‘A strong handset for sure’ – September 13, 2016
WSJ reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: ‘Get over the headphone thing and upgrade’ – September 13, 2016
Mossberg reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: It’s a great phone, but where’s my headphone jack? – September 13, 2016
The Verge reviews Apple’s iPhone 7/Plus: ‘The future in disguise’ – September 13, 2016


    1. Yeah. It it’s all the software that runs on a MacBook that also needs to change.

      Not sure how many developers will want to recompile AGAIN (from PPC to Intel to ARM).

      1. During the PowerPC to Intel transition, Apple made it relatively easy to support both processors with “universal” apps, as long as the developer used Xcode (which was NOT everyone). Now, “everyone” DOES use Xcode, not just for macOS, but for iOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

        The initial A-chip MacBook will be targeted at iPhone customers who do not currently use a Mac, so they have no “legacy” Mac software baggage. As software development matures and most developers begin releasing apps for both processors (concurrently), it won’t really matter to new Mac users (and matter less to long-time Mac users). For apps sold on Mac App Store, it won’t even be a visible difference to the user, because the correct “build” gets downloaded automatically based on the Mac model.

        It’s not really a “transition” this time; I think Intel-based Macs also continue, for the foreseeable future.

      2. LCK, I have seen this software recompilation viewpoint posted many times in response to MacOS on ARM, but I am not certain that it is entirely valid.

        Apple controls the OS and the software development environment and, as a result, has been highly successful in its previous CPU transitions. If/when Apple chooses to initiate the transition of MacOS to ARM, the initial step should not require much, if any, rework by developers. It should be a straightforward recompile to a new target processor. The second step, code optimization for the new CPU architecture, may require some work on the part of developers. But Apple has a couple of advantages this time around with iOS apps already running on ARM.

        First, Apple knows how to accelerate apps on ARM and has already incorporated techniques into iOS (e.g., Metal). Since MacOS and iOS are cousins, I do not see why some people appear to be concerned.

        Second, Apple is a much larger and stronger company now than it was during previous transitions, especially the move to OS X. Apple has a much larger customer base, including corporate clients like IBM, and that speaks to developers.

        You do not provide any basis for your skepticism regarding this transition, but the developers will go to where the $$ are, and Apple generates revenue for developers. If this transition paves the way for iOS apps to run on Macs (and vice versa), then developers will certainly get on board.

        1. “You do not provide any basis for your skepticism regarding this transition”
          Wow, you are using the “transition” term very broadly. A new controlled and modest beginning for a new Mac ARM platform is already a huge challenge.

          Any business and person using high end software and resources will have evaluate any transition or migration from Apple or any other company for months or even years in a best case scenario.

  1. I could see a relatively easy path for Apps that are on the Mac App Store to A-series chips. But I’d imagine companies with large code bases over multiple apps (Adobe, Microsoft, for example) taking a lot longer to run natively on an A-series chip. But I would hope that Apple would have a Rosetta-like feature for those apps. The question is, can the A-series chip translate code for Intel chips to A-series at a reasonable speed.

    I don’t know if Apple will transition to A-series processors. But I assume that if they did, they will also keep Intel-based chips in their line-up for at least a few years to give the time for the ecosystem to adapt all the software and drivers. Apple has been nudging developers for a long time to get good with Apple’s APIs. Many have listened. I can see issues with Microsoft, Adobe, and probably a lot of more proprietary corporate apps that most of us will never use.

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