iPad Pro's A9X Chip Rivals Performance of Intel's Low-End Core M Processors

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    AnandTech today published an in-depth iPad Pro review with detailed hardware and software analysis, including an interesting performance comparison between the tablet's dual-core A9X chip and Intel's Core M processors.

    The test was conducted to determine to what level Apple's custom ARM chips have caught up to the performance of Intel's Core M lineup, given Apple's continued advancements in architecture and manufacturing, compared to Intel's slower rate of growth over its last few generations of Core processors.


    The review pitted the iPad Pro's A9X chip against various Core M devices, including the Broadwell-based 12-inch Retina MacBook with a low-end Core M chip and ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi with a high-end Core M chip, and Skylake-based ASUS ZenBook UX305CA with a base-tier Core m3 CPU.

    The SPECint2006+ benchmark results reveal that the iPad Pro is competitive with the Retina MacBook and Asus ZenBook UX305CA in certain tests, winning half of the benchmarks against each device, but the tablet lags behind in overall performance. Meanwhile, the high-end ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi unsurprisingly beat the iPad Pro in every category.

    Evidently, Intel's Core M lineup continues to lead in overall performance, but Apple is quickly closing the gap.
    Apple's progress is notable given multiple rumors that suggest the company may release ARM-based Macs in the future.

    In this scenario, Apple would replace the Intel chips it currently uses in Macs with custom designed A-series chips, allowing the company to better time processor upgrades with new product launches. On multiple occasions, Apple has had to hold off on updating its Mac lineup while waiting for Intel's latest generations of processors.

    In January 2015, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo projected that Apple could begin launching ARM-based Macs within one or two years based on its custom chip designs. As these A9X benchmarks show, however, the use of A-series chips in Macs would very likely be limited to lower-end devices like the 12-inch Retina MacBook at first.


    In May 2014, French website MacBidouille reported that Apple has prototyped several ARM-based machines, including an iMac, Mac mini and 13" notebook with 4-8 64-bit ARM quad-core processors, and new keyboards with large-format Magic Trackpads, but many doubted the feasibility of moving forward with such a plan.

    Nearly two years later, the prospect of Apple releasing ARM-based Mac remains questionable, especially for high-end Macs, but the A9X chip is evidence that Apple's A-series processors are increasingly rivaling the performance of Intel's entry-level offerings. At the very least, it gives Apple options moving forward.

    + SPECint2006 is a CPU-intensive cross-platform benchmark that tests processors based on a wide range of real-life usage scenarios, ranging from video compression to PERL execution to AI. For a detailed technical explanation of the SPEC CPU benchmark and its 12 sub-benchmarks, read the full review.

    Article Link: iPad Pro's A9X Chip Rivals Performance of Intel's Low-End Core M Processors
  2. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
  3. nezr macrumors regular


    Feb 19, 2010
    Vancouver, BC
    still worthless without OSX on it, mouse support, etc
  4. H2SO4 macrumors 68040

    Nov 4, 2008
    Impressive stuff.
    I wonder how the processor would fare if it was running a real OS, (with what I’m assuming are lots more background processes), whilst setting those benchmarks.
  5. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
    I mean, you're entitled to your opinion, but I think "worthless" is a bit extreme. Definitely not as useful as a desktop or laptop, but iPads have their purpose.
  6. Cmd-Z macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2014
    Coyote, CA
    Fixed that for ya ...
  7. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
    iOS is "real", do you mean a desktop OS? I'd be interested in seeing OS X running on it!
  8. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    Pretty impressive, but I hope Apple stays with Intel for a while until they (ARM Arch) really is as fast as Intel.

    And, you won't be able to run Windows natively, not that I care though.;):p
  9. furi0usbee macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    An iPad Pro that I could use my bluetooth keyboard/mouse AND ran OSX. Yeah, that's what I'm excited for. Then, and only then, would Tim be right in saying the iPad can be a replacement for a desktop/laptop.
  10. Mago macrumors 68000

    Aug 16, 2011
    Beyond the Thunderdome
    No way Apple to move to ARM cpu yet (maybe later on 3-4 years if ARM manage to keep up with intel Top Range).

    ARM cpu single thread execution is faaaaar slower than Intel x86-64 , maybe a multi core (8 core) ARM match an baselie dualcore Intel Core M but no more from there.

    Apple is ordering AMD's new custo AIO SOC with High Performance x64+AMD GPU, this may debut next year o later this year on Mac Minis also iMacs and maybe some macbooks, the question here is if these chip could license Intel's thunderbolt tech.

    On ARM besides iThings Apple could release an OS/X Headless Server (or Apple NAS) is an growing market and I know many people having macs having also some NAS in their houses or offices.
  11. H2SO4 macrumors 68040

    Nov 4, 2008
    Well yes, of course that’s what I mean.
  12. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
    Of course? You could have said that instead of leaving some people (me) guessing.
  13. jdiamond macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2008
    Which means Apple's ARM CPU is now performs as well on SPEC as AMD's highest end CPU (pre-Zen of course). :)
    The Anandtech comparison is even more impressive when you see that Apple's ARM core was using 1/20th the power of the i3.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 22, 2016 ---
    My impression is that iOS is a SUPERSET of OS-X, that is, they start with all of OS-X and then build a new GUI on top of it with some additional hardware interfaces. In theory, an iPad Pro should run OS-X faster than iOS. But I know what you mean. :)
  14. alexgowers macrumors 65816

    Jun 3, 2012
    I think with the way OS X works iOS is not far of being the same in terms of general usage and for tests most will MAX out the cpu which has very little to do with the OS and "background tasks".

    I actually quite like intel and it's approach to cpus but if apple can surpass, processor speed with less power draw why would you pay someone else for a worse product, apple only need convince customers. These aren't the days of power PC anymore and i doubt apple would fall behind now they make so many chips themselves and have a stable user base to really invest in low power mobile chips.

    It's great for pushing forward the tech as has been done in all areas that mobiles encroach on. I'm more excited about mobile cpu power increases and what that offers other areas myself, like NAS, wearables, cars, Drones, and VR. The possibilities with these little chips is ramping up the number of new products that are possible.
  15. djcerla macrumors 65816


    Apr 23, 2015
    Maybe to a generation grown up with the PC.

    Young people are faster on touch screens, to a degree us older folks can barely get, and as a consequence applications are catching up fast.

    PCs will be used for a small subset of very specialized applications, all the rest is moving to mobile.
  16. jdiamond macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2008
    Pretty hard to tell until you're willing to blast 4 watts or more into Apple's ARM CPU and see what performance point it hits then. There are no Intel CPUs I know of that can hit this performance level at 0.5 watts peak. The A9X seems clearly faster on all benchmarks than a Core2Duo, and a Core2Duo isn't THAT much slower than a current i7 -> in fact, most people find the Core2Duo quite usable. Say for sake of argument a Skylake i7 has double the single thread performance of an A9x. Where do you expect to notice that difference?
  17. bdkennedy1 macrumors 65816

    Oct 24, 2002
    I'm pretty sure Apple has been underclocking their chips to account for heat dissipation. We don't really know what the A9X is capable of if it's put into a Mac with multiple processors and a fan.
  18. jongriff macrumors regular


    May 28, 2003
    It's been a while since an exciting rumour involving Macs has materialised. If they choose to go forward with this we could see the new MacBook line develop into an even better mobile computer solution without the constraints of being tied to Intel product cycles and development strategies. I for one hope it happens
  19. blut haus macrumors regular

    blut haus

    Dec 27, 2015
    I'm no CPU expert, but doesn't the CPU have to be designed for multi-processor uses? Either way that would be interesting. Maybe the next generation or two out Apple could put one in a Mac Mini.
  20. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    They're siblings. They share the same Darwin kernal and have a lot of other stuff they share, but there's a layer of tech in there unique for each platform (mostly the UI stuff... also some app management stuff.)

    Neither is a superset of the other.
  21. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    In which case it would be a Windows 8-style mess. Apple is going to gradually add functionality to iOS. They aren't going to port OS X to ARM to run on iPads. Get over it already. Why does this keep coming up every time there is a story about the iPad?
  22. Corrode macrumors 6502a


    Dec 26, 2008
    Calgary, AB
    I use a Core2Duo MacBook Pro as my daily and I get by no problem. I can even edit RAW images in Lightroom as long as I'm in a patient mood. If this is how an A9X performs now, it can't be long until they've got enough processing power to meet today's demands.
  23. macintologist macrumors 6502

    May 3, 2004
    With bitcode, I think it will be very easy for apps to transition from x86 to ARM.
  24. Exhale macrumors 6502

    Sep 20, 2011
    Sorry, I'm not seeing those figures anywhere.
  25. manu chao macrumors 603

    Jul 30, 2003
    The implicit question here was whether Apple could put the A9X into a Mac (running OS X) and have a competitive performance. This is not about comparing devices or OSes, it is about comparing CPUs.

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