Where could Apple go with the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 chipset?

Where could Apple go with the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 chipset?

Last year Apple launched their second generation custom CPU as part of the Apple A7 system-on-a-chip found in the iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini Retina. Codenamed "Cyclone" it used the ARMv8 instruction set and was an industry first 64-bit. Thanks to some sleuthing and some new commit logs, Anand Lai Shimpi has presented a ton of technical details on what Apple has accomplished to date. Moreover, he's gone into the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 SoC, and what we might just see this year. AnandTech:

By now we know to expect an "A8" branded Apple SoC in the iPhone 6 and iPad Air successors later this year. There's little benefit in going substantially wider than Cyclone, but there's still a ton of room to improve performance. One obvious example would be through frequency scaling. Cyclone is clocked very conservatively (1.3GHz in the 5s/iPad mini with Retina Display and 1.4GHz in the iPad Air), assuming Apple moves to a 20nm process later this year it should be possible to get some performance by increasing clock speed scaling without a power penalty. I suspect Apple has more tricks up its sleeve than that however. Swift and Cyclone were two tocks in a row by Intel's definition, a third in 3 years would be unusual but not impossible (Intel sort of committed to doing the same with Saltwell/Silvermont/Airmont in 2012 - 2014).

I'd settle for more RAM in the iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2, but all of that would be nice too. For more on how Apple implemented Cyclone, the benefits and challenges, and just how far ahead of everyone else they really are, check out all of AnandTech's findings. Then com back here and tell me what you think, and what you'd like to see next!

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Where could Apple go with the iPhone 6 and Apple A8 chipset?


i would take more RAM over higher clock SOC. right now my iPad Air constantly redraws webpages when i switch between tabs, while nexus 5 doesnt. 2 GB ram matters.

Some of it has to do with the device, I have 4 A7 tablets at work (between a few devs) and the experience is totally different, one tablet does awesome never really redraws unless I have more then 8 tabs, another can't run 2. Most people said it was down to iOs 7 but the issue is about the same, and it isn't very consistent from the public as well, some people swore its totally crazy others say they have never had an issue.

Off course I'm all for more ram, moreover with 64bit apps taking up to 30% more ram.

The recent demos of the Tegra K1 show some pretty astounding performance, many times quicker than the PVR Rogue GPU in the A7. It can run the Unreal 4 engine, with lots of effects enabled.

More RAM is also very needed and overdue.

I would like to see more RAM to support web browsing/tabs better. I also think they need to make the baseline 32 GB instead of 16. Especially if the new screen is higher resolution with higher resolution camera/video.

I hope they don't call it iPad Air 2.. I'm hoping they keep in line with current practice for Macbook Air and Macbook Pro and stop with the numbers already. :)

Although I agree on the RAM front, I still love the closing comment from Anand's original article: "Looking at Cyclone makes one thing very clear: the rest of the players in the ultra mobile CPU space didn't aim high enough."

Better battery life with graphics would be great, I use an rMini a lot and battery life is amazing on everything outside of gaming where I get maybe 6hours at best, its not just the rMini but really any mobile device that has its battery life halved.

Not sure what they could do TBH, but an improve there would be awesome for me.

@Ritchie: I'm with you. More RAM would mean that every other app I switch to would be in memory instead of having to be loaded. That would be nice.