6 things you need to know about Apple’s A11 processor

“TSMC will begin churning out Apple’s next generation A11-series processors for the next-generation iPhone in April, local reports claim, confirming December speculation from BlueFin Research Partners,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.

“Apple’s existing 64-bit A10 series chip is manufactured using 16 nanometer process, so it’s reasonable to assume the new A11 will deliver significant performance gains on the basis of the move to 10nm alone, presumably without impacting battery life,” Evans writes. “In 2015, TSMC claimed its 10-nanometer technology will provide a “20% speed gain and 40% power reduction” relative to 16-nanometer technology.”

Evans writes, “”It is worth pointing out that Apple’s A10 series processor provided 40 percent greater CPU performance and 50 percent better graphics performance than we saw in the preceding A9 processor.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Desktop class.

TSMC to begin volume production of Apple’s A11 chips in April – March 27, 2017


  1. Yes, the A11 should be “desktop class” IF you think an i3 or i5 chip based upon the Y, U or HQ class variants are “desktop class”. Yes, the A11 should beat the vast majority of those in computational throughput (maybe even graphics throughput).

    However, as I’ve said many times on this site, there are many, many more things to being a desktop CPU in today’s infrastructure than just computational throughput. How about being able to access more than 4 GB of RAM? How about 20-40, or more, PCIe lanes? How about supporting USB 3.1? How about supporting Ethernet or DLP or HDMI natively?

    The Axx version chip the ships as a true Desktop Chip in a few years will look and work as much like the current A10 and the coming A11 as the A10 looks like a 68000 chip in the original Mac.

    1. See A10 and A10X Geekbench scores at: http://bgr.com/2016/10/04/iphone-7-specs-eclipsed-by-a10x-ipad-pro/

      Then take a look at some comparison data at:

      The Core i7-7Y75 from Intel is manufactured on Intel’s revised 14-nanometer+ process, which allows the company to dial up the maximum single-core turbo on the chip from 3.1GHz on the 6Y75 to 3.6GHz on the 7Y75, a 16% improvement.

      If performance on the 7Y75 scales linearly with frequency in the Geekbench 4 test, we should see a single-core score of roughly 4265 and a multi-core score of about 8100.

      Moving to the A10X, let’s assume that the delta between the A10 and A10X is roughly the same as the delta between the A9 and A9X. The A9X’s single core score was about 21% better than the A9’s and the multi-core score was about 17% better.

      In that case, our hypothetical A10X should get a single-core score of 4236 and a multi-core score of 6588.27. In tasks that use just a single core, the A10X should be roughly even with the Core i7-7Y75 and behind it in tasks that use multiple cores.”

      That puts the A10X even with the estimated 3.6GHz Core i7-7Y75 for single-core performance based on Geekbench. The A10X multi-core performance is roughly 81.3% of the estimated 3.6GHz Core i7-7Y75.

      It stands to reason that the A11 and, eventually, the A11X will perform significantly better than the A10 and A10X due to Apple’s incremental processor architecture improvements combined with TSMC’s shift to a 10nm FinFET process.

      The A10 and A10X pretty much caught up to the best-in-class mobile processors. The A11 and A11X will likely set a new best-in-class standard for others to follow. That is why I believe that the A11 series are likely to be the first Apple-designed SoCs installed in a retail Mac.

      1. Mel, did you even read my comment?

        It’s not about raw performance. It’s about all the it’s about all the other things that a desktop CPU does that an Axx processor does not do — and likely won’t do for a few more years.

        Besides you picked an i7 “Y” class. Which, for some chips, is roughly equivalent to some of the i5 “H” class as I said. Again, it’s not about raw performance.

        If you want to talk to me about Axx raw performance, let me know when there’s an Axx chip that is equivalent or better than the i7 7700K (or whatever is shipping that holds that slot in two to three years).

  2. Teh desktop is tha ended. In da future, people don’t drive dang trucks. They drive 4-cylinders! Think about it 🤔


  3. Next generation of iPhone in april?!?! Of 2017? 2018? 2019?

    Well, does that mean the SE will be having this chip before their stallar phone?!?

    Mmmm. April. April’s fools day?

      1. hare·brained (hâr′brānd′)
        Having or showing little sense; foolish: a harebrained scheme.
        Usage Note: The first recorded use of harebrained dates to 1548. The spelling hairbrained also has a long history, going back to the 1500s when hair was a variant spelling of hare. The hair variant was preserved in Scotland into the 1700s, and as a result it is impossible to tell exactly when people began writing hairbrained in the belief that the word means “having a hair-sized brain” rather than “with no more sense than a hare.” While hairbrained continues to be used, the standard spelling of the word is harebrained. — American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition

        1. I think you helped me with this word previously! Years back. But I like ‘hair’ brained as it reminds me of airhead, as in having hair with no brain matter beneath.

          Anyway, you are valued as ever dear muse of meaning. 😉

  4. Desktop class only if your idea of a power user is Facebook or Office 365.

    I am quite sure a Multi-tasking Xeon workstation can run a dozen apps- including a benchmark- simultaneously and still kick any Apple A series chip running only the benchmark. Make no mistake, the chips are a BFD, but calling them desktop class is nothing but marketing hype.

    1. Your comparison between the A11 and a Xeon CPU is ridiculous, DavGreg. How long will that Xeon run on a 3500mAh battery?? For that matter, how long will a Core i3 or i5 run on the same battery?

      “Desktop-class” does not have to mean “pro-class.” There are plenty of inexpensive PCs being sold at retail with relatively pedestrian CPUs. Let’s see the full A11 specs and benchmarks, first, before trashing the idea. And, if Apple follows its standard iPad gameplay, the A11X will soon follow with enhanced graphics performance.

      The A11 may very well be the first A series SoC to be featured on a Mac – possibly the lower end MacBooks and Mac mini? That will serve as a pathfinder for future generations of A series SoCs that will make Xeons look like the Motorola 68000.

      I am also curious about the potential for building a computer using two, four, eight, or more A11 SoCs. Does the A series architecture support that type of arrangement? If not, then Apple should ensure that future generations do. I would like to see someone build a supercomputer using hundreds or thousands of A series SoCs.

      1. Exactly.

        I have to think they have been doing just that in the lab, and maybe we will see a version of it when the Mac Pro arrives. If not, then what has been the holdup? Crabby Lakes? lol Not enough small, black trash cans at WalMart?

      2. What does battery run time matter to a “desktop” cpu which would be more or less expected to be plugged in all the time? IMO the i-series were meant as a low/mid range desktop or laptop PCs. The serious desktops and workstations were Xeon.

      3. SoC is a good feature, which will lead higher efficient and less power consumption. My only concern is A11 chip is manufactured using 10 nm process. This process node is not fully mature yet, though TSMC may claim so.

    2. While I’m sure there are power users running Xeons on their desktops (which are perhaps more accurately classified as workstations), I think the comparison should be much more (ahem) apples to apples. The i3/5/7 comparisons being bandied about here are not Xeons either, and they would not fare well against a xeon-class CPU either.

      A previous post suggested that the absence of multiple PCIe lanes, USB 3.1 support and a raft of other exceptionally insignificantly easy to add items were limiting factors. Those things used to be relegated to the chipset, they were so insignificant. The A-series chips don’t need most of those things right now, so they’re not there.

      If Apple wanted to make A-series desktops (and I’m not volunteering my opinion on whether they will or won’t), it would be rather trivial for them to do so. Most of the other arguments against that also miss the fact that the current A-series chips are dual core. Apple could stack as many of these together as they want, and still have it come in using less power than some of the so-called competition. It would result in a system which could spin up cores on demand, and down again when not needed. Such a beast could deliver plenty of rendering horsepower for FinalCut, but still be power friendly when on battery. There are just too many tricks that Apple _could_ use here. Whether they do or do not will be up to the brass.

      I remember vividly the day they publicly announced and demoed OS X running on Intel hardware, and the fact that they had already made cross-compiling available, so that if you were already using Xcode, your project would just magically re-compile into a universal binary which would work on either platform. Apple demonstrated the ability to pull off a trick like that in the past, and they’re already building for iOS (ARM hardware) that way on Intel boxes. How hard would it be, really, for them to flip another switch?

      1. I’m sorry, that gave me a laugh. You can’t just stack multiple dual core cpus in a single computer and expect a corresponding level of speed or productivity. You’ll at least have to design a method of managing all those cores on those separate processors with yet another processor dispatching work and collecting the results. I understand your idea but the execution would not be so simple.

        1. Yeah, I realized that when I proofread it _after_ I posted. I meant multiple cores in a single processor, not multiple dual-core processors. ARM already has designs with _many_ cores, and Samsung’s ARM-based Exynos chips are doing the on/off core switching even now.

  5. ” the new A11 will deliver significant performance gains on the basis of the move to 10nm alone, presumably without impacting battery life”

    It should impact battery life – on the good side!

    “40% power reduction”

    Yep. That helps battery life! Not the biggest battery factor, but every little bit helps.

  6. I’ve gotten to the point that not much impresses me. Remember when the G4 Mac was advertised as gigaflop or some such mess? Seems to me that software, from OS to everything else, is what pushes hardware. I don’t know much. Except that I just want things to Just Work®.

  7. U can’t compare Intel and apple a11 process
    Cause Intel uses cise based processor where as apple a11 is rise based processor
    So it’s obvious that Intel is very powerfull than apple a11 and doesn’t make sense comparing the two

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