What performance gains Apple’s A13 chip might deliver

“We’re still a long way away from hearing anything official about Apple’s next system-on-a-chip. The A13 is likely to be unveiled in September, along with the new iPhones it will power. But the design, manufacture, and testing of these chips takes years, far too long for Apple to suddenly make radical changes,” Jason Cross writes for Macworld. “The A13 design is likely, for all intents and purposes, set in stone by now.”

“By looking at past A-series chips and extrapolating from what we know of the manufacturing process Apple will use this year, we can get a reasonable picture about what to expect from the A13 chip,” Cross writes. “Apple’s single-core CPU performance gains have been remarkably steady in recent years. If the trend holds, we’ll be looking at a Geekbench 4 single-core CPU score of around 5,200. That blows the doors off any Android phone and even most thin-and-light laptops.”

“Last year, Apple improved the Neural Engine in the A12 by far more than expected. The A11’s Neural Engine can do 600 billion operations per second, and Apple made the A12 about eight times faster at 5 trillion operations per second,” Cross writes. “If Apple announced that the A13’s Neural Engine could do 20 trillion operations per second, I would be impressed, but not surprised.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re well into the realm of having an Apple-powered Mac; it’s just a matter of when, not if.

10 Comments

  1. Apple powered-Mac? What are the implications? It would be nice that Apple owns the tech. However, how would developers take this, especially give the fact that Apple transitioned to Intel a little more than a decade ago. I’m just trying to get an understanding of what’s at stake.

    1. “Transitioned to Intel a little more than a decade ago.”

      You might think that is a recent change, but let’s look at history:
      Original Mac was 1984, using a 68k Motorola processor.
      PowerMac was 1994, using a PowerPC processor (IBM/Motorola/Apple).
      MacBook Pro was early 2006, using an Intel processor.
      Following that pattern, we are overdue for a processor architecture shift.

      Each time, Apple helped developers through the transition, and most took it well. It would probably be even simpler from them today, since a higher percentage of software is developed using Apple’s dev tools than in past transitions.

      1. I lived through those transitions. Each one was a major multi year pain in the ass, losing programs and data along the way. Some great Mac programs never made the transitions. And that was done when Apple was the user focused underdog.

        I don’t trust Cook to take attention to detail. Look at how stupid Apple has been with relatively easy software: iWork, Aperture, iPhoto, Quicktime, … Apple can’t even properly manage the transition for its current apps, it drops compatibility and features whenever they like. I shudder to think what a hash Cook would make out of macOS.

        Sales would plummet if prices went higher and emulation-free Wintel compatibility was lost.

        Also I would rather Apple stick with American made chips than to keep outsourcing everything overseas.

  2. It isn’t possible to have massive gains in performance between the A12 and A13 – the process is still stuck at 7nm. There is only so much you can do with a transistor. You generally need more transistors to do more work. There will be incremental improvements along with something new and exciting (and they will build off that for the A14 just like they did with the neural engine jump from A11 to A12). But you still need more transistors to do more work. The 7nm process (with slight improvement to the process because TSMC is transitioning to extreme ultraviolet lithography) won’t allow a neural engine doing 20 trillion operations per second without an accompanying die size and power consumption increase. A13 is a year of good improvements, but nothing extraordinary.

      1. You are Wrong Again. You can’t compare a Miata to a Super Duty truck and declare the little convertible cheaper. Be intellectually honest. I know, a rarity on MDN.

        1. If you are so hot about being “intellectually honest,” then you should use a more honest analogy.

          In your world, how many Miatas equal a Super Duty truck?Why do you consider the A-13 to be a Miata and the Intel i7 to be a Super Duty truck?

          Based on Geekbench, the A-12X came pretty close to a year-old version of the i7. And the i7 is not advancing very quickly compared to Apple’s A-series processors.

          (http://www.iphonehacks.com/2018/11/ipad-pro-a12x-bionic-chip-beats-intel-core-i7-chip-last-year-geekbench.html)

          I think that A-series Macs are imminent, especially if Apple designed them to enable multiple A-series processors to be ganged together for massively parallel processing.

          1. It is impressive how far mobile chips have come but there’s no getting around the basic fact that optimizations for mobile devices mean suboptimal performance for desktops and laptops.

            Let’s not focus on the overhyped single thread performance comparing A chips to Intel’s low power mobile chipsets. Perhaps you have heard of the i9? 3D chip architecture? Yeah Intel still has a very competent engineering group.

            As all fabs stall near the limits of manufacturing capabilities, the gulf between desktop chipsets and mobiles isn’t likely to narrow much more. So explain why a miniscule low power chip would be a preferred solution when you’re plugged into a wall outlet?

            I side with the others here: Apple is the laggard when it comes to Mac improvements. Intel isn’t perfect but x86 remains state of the art for the foreseeable future in most heavy duty computing.

            1. If you run an A series chip without the thermal and power limitations of a mobile device, clock them higher and add a bunch more cores, they have the potential to blow intel out of the water. The fact that they can already perform at high end i5 levels for only having a TDP of under a couple watts, that says a lot. Make a 3.5-4ghz A13 with 3x the cores, 5x the neural engine cores and discrete graphics, there wouldn’t be any doubt about it being better than any intel cpu on the market except perhaps the xeon range.

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