The A7 isn't the piece of engineering you think it to be...

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by cirus, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. cirus macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    Apple's A7 is largely seen as a very impressive piece of CPU engineering. However, what you don't see is how much software makes a difference; apple's A7 is impressive (and A6) mainly because they leverage Apple's substantial software advantage rather than great hardware prowess.

    It can be seen that a lot of improvements in performance across generations are from software upgrades rather than any sort of hardware improvement. Case in point, the improvement from the iphone 5 to the 5c.

    AT release article of the iphone 5



    The difference between these benchmarks is that one was taken with IOS 6 and the other with IOS 7. As you can see, the iphone 5 improved by 40%.

    Likewise with Octane



    71% improvement from IOS 6 to IOS 7.

    Sunspider shows a smaller but still present improvement.

    I have no doubt that the user experience from the A7 is every good as the charts indicate but the actual hardware performance isn't nearly as close to the baytrail or S800 as benchmarks indicate. Apple's software optimizations allow them to put a very strong showing with weaker hardware. (Geekbench is not used in this comparison as it focuses too much on encryption and tends to operate on single buffers of data). As shown in other benches, 5s performance is notably higher than 5/5c performance; my point here is that the actual hardware is less powerful in comparison to other hardware than the benchmarks indicate.

    This is the problem with using JS benchmarks.
  2. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Does anybody really care?
    The user experience is what really matters IMO
  3. vomhorizon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2013
    Exactly ! Most want to see effective improvement in experience..Some have noticed it, others have not..Some simply did not feel the need for a faster processor, while others want more features and ability that would bloat the system up and demand even faster processors...Its tough keeping everyone happy :)
  4. cirus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    Exactly and I agree 100%. Its just the hardware isn't really comparable performance wise. Apple competes through software as well.

    Think pc and console.
  5. ABC5S Suspended


    Sep 10, 2013
    October 16, 2012 11:33 AM EST post. 1 year old article

    And as the other posters mention, its still very good. So no matter what those articles say, its the over all experience of the iPhone that matters
  6. wxman2003 Suspended

    Apr 12, 2011
    Based on those tests, the A7 on iphone 5s is still vastly better than iphone 5 and 4, even after upgrading to ios7.
  7. DanTSX macrumors regular

    Oct 22, 2013
    Don't care. Other processors do not matter because other phones don't matter.

    As long as it updates, works without agony, I'll use iPhone.

    Fretting over processor speed is soooo 1998.
  8. wxman2003 Suspended

    Apr 12, 2011
  9. M87 macrumors 65816

    Jul 18, 2009
    I tend to trust anandtech on this kind of stuff. And they say the A7 is in a completely different league from what anyone else is using.
  10. itsmemuffins macrumors 68030


    Jun 23, 2010
    It's as much about power efficiency as it is about power ;)
  11. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    The other browsers are receiving software improvements at the same time, not just mobile Safari.

    Webkit (Nitro/V8), Trident (IE) will all have had performance improvements in the past year.

    The HTC One and Galaxy S4 (Google Play editions) and Surface 2 will also get "quicker" over time as well. Does that say anything about the hardware competence of Nvidia/Qualcomm?

    I fail to understand the point you are trying to make? Your logic passes me by.
  12. Jimmy James macrumors 68040

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
    So these benchmarks suggest that if I install ios7 on my sluggish iPhone 4 it will feel quicker?
  13. cirus, Oct 27, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013

    cirus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    If you actually look at what I'm trying to say you would see than i'm mainly talking about intel and Qualcomm and their hardware. And really, someone says something you don't like and this is your response?

    My point is that it is wrong to say that Apple's engineering of the A7 is what makes it an amazing chip. Its apple's software integration that can take a chip like the A6 and turn it into a solid S600 competitor. People saying that apple is outengineering Qualcomm, intel, or samsung based on the performance of the A7 are wrong. A7 performs well because of Apple's software integration.

    Its well known that AT loves apple (and intel) products.
  14. DynaFXD macrumors 6502a


    Jun 15, 2010
    East Coast
    Absolutely this. Any design package is a series of trade offs. Apple (and others) fit their equipment to suit their needs. And one of Apple's needs is long battery life and a certain heat dissipation in the form factor of the device they want to build. A Xeon or i7 will beat the pants off an A7, but you could not fit those in the iPhone anymore than you could an Atom.

    Benchmarks are interesting. But that's all they are.
  15. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    FYI Manyyy android processors cheat on the benchmark tests.

    Also, why put images of benchmarks of the iPhone 5 in a A7 thread w/out an A7 in said images is just stupid IMO.
  16. noobinator macrumors 603


    Jun 19, 2009
    Pasadena, CA
    I only care about the final result not the individual components used to get there.

    Edit: and thank you captain obvious. I think we all knew this.
  17. cyks macrumors 68020


    Jul 24, 2002
    Westchester County, NY
    Ok, so the benchmark speeds increase as software becomes more optimized for the chips… I don't see how that minimizes the A7 since, no matter which benchmark you go by, the 5S destroys the 5.

    That numbers increase over time based on software can be said for practically any hardware as new tricks are found to increase performance.
  18. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Don't know about that but overall smoothness and experience of iOS 7 on my 4S is better then it was on iOS 6.


    Oh give it up already. This level of defensiveness is just embarrassing.
  19. cirus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    The 5s is right there.
  20. smiddlehurst macrumors 65816

    Jun 5, 2007
    I don't even know where to start with this... actually, wait, yes I do. Anandtech themselves - in the very article you quote no less - state that the A7 is roughly performance-comparable to bay trail albeit the step down from the version they've got full data tests for.

    For that matter you seem to be claiming that the A7 is less impressive than it's being credited for because Apple improved the underlying software. Only problem is every other mobile platform is doing EXACTLY the same thing. Main reason it doesn't show up in Android is so few platforms get the latest OS releases and fewer still get updated tests. Intel, however, demonstrated this quite nicely after getting a bit peeved that the A7 jumped up and down on their newest offering in the Sunspider JS benchmark. First run (presumably on IE10): 566.6 Second run on IE11: 329.6

    Now if you're going to claim that Apple are getting the benefits of having a tightly integrated hardware/software stack then absolutely yes. They're almost certainly the best out there in that regard and do, indeed, gain additional benefits from it. But look at your own figures - the A7 is around 2.5x faster in Kraken than the A6 and 2x in the Octane test. This at the same clock frequency as the A6 and with dual core rather than the quad of most of the android competition. Some of that performance will, indeed, come from software - specifically the OS being able to take advantage of ARMv8 - but that's only possible because Apple delivered the hardware to support it months before anyone else is even close. The rest is hardware based and is a remarkable jump. A doubling (or more) of performance in a single generation without significant changes in power consumption is a very rare thing indeed and should be celebrated regardless of anyone's feelings towards Apple.

    Oh, and if you want to truly compare performance of different processors you need to perform some form of normalisation on the figures. Performance at a given clock speed for instance, or per watt. That z3770, for example, might run at around 1.5Ghz but it can turbo up to 2.4 and has double the memory bandwidth of the A7. It's also designed for tablets, not smartphones, so a true rival from Apple would be an A7X which... well, which may or may not be in users hands five days from now if it even exists. Watch this space.

    So how to sum up... Fundamentally the A7 is a stunning achievement from Apple. It's a fantastic mix of incredibly powerful silicon that's also seemingly very efficient. It's got a next gen GPU as well as big jumps in memory speed. It's brought ARMv8 to the table months before anyone else has it even in the server space, let alone mobile devices. All of this is supported by an efficient OS and core apps that are designed around that silicon ensuring that Apple get the best possible performance from it. To discount either the hardware *or* software as less important is, IMO, foolish at best.
  21. cirus thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 15, 2011
    I never said the A7 wasn't amazing. It is. But a lot of that amazing is from software integration. Sunspider is almost completely useless (as are a lot of JS benchmarks). And everyone else doubled their performance as well.

    The A7 as a CPU uses a huge amount of CPU space. Its almost as big as a Haswell core and similar to 4 A-15 cores. Apple traded off die space for efficiency. There is nothing wrong with that but its something to be aware of.

    And if you look again at benchmarks. The 5s is comparable with the iphone 5 in terms of battery life despite a bigger battery and a more efficient process.
  22. fortheus macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2012
    For javascript testing it's highly refer to engine optimization. You need to see other benchmark as well like cpu and gpu.

    The same thing happen with your computer as well. Browsing with my 2008 imac always get faster with browser upgrade with latest javascript engine.
  23. Matt8045 macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2012
    Numbers don't mean **** when my iphone 5S crashes versus my iphone 5 on ios6 that never did.
  24. sclawis300 macrumors 65816

    Apr 22, 2010
    Mine hasn't crashed ever. May want to try a clean install.
  25. nitromac macrumors 6502

    Jul 29, 2012
    The OP is under the assumption that everyone must think the A7 is a gift from the hardware gods.

    If that's the case you are sorely mistaken. I don't care how my processor performs in relation to other phones, as long as it makes my OS and apps run smoothly. Numbers are meaningless if the software using the hardware isn't up to par.

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