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Apple A7: Way more power than a phone needs to have

When Brian Klug joined me on the Vector podcast last week, I asked him if including the Apple A7 chipset in both the iPhone 5s and the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini meant the phone was way overpowered, or the tablets were way underpowered. He answered in the best way possible - that the phone was ridiculously overpowered. As part of his iPad Air review, Brian's colleague, Anand Lai Shimpi, puts some context to that ridiculousness. From AnandTech:

This is the first Apple SoC that's able to deliver good amounts of memory bandwidth to all consumers. A single CPU core can use up 8GB/s of bandwidth. I'm still vetting other SoCs, but so far I haven't come across anyone in the ARM camp that can compete with what Apple has built here. Only Intel is competitive.

As John Gruber pointed out on Daring Fireball in his review, it's roughly the same amount of raw power as a 2010 MacBook Air. That's the machine I primarily ran iMore on for a year. And now that's in my phone, and in my tablet. Insane.

Pop open Wikipedia and go read Anand's whole review.

Source: AnandTech

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • It is insane, I've been reading a lot of comments about how the processor is just a gimmick and the m7 doesn't do much blah blah. What they don't see is the importance and the huge leap in mobile computing this is. It's really cool what companies are doing with technology, and not just Apple.
  • +1 great comment
  • I'm wondering if Apple is using the iPhone as a way to subsidize getting the A7 into the mini. If producing millions more chips reduces the cost per chip that maybe how the could go all the way to A7 in the mini and only raise the price a bit.
  • Well said.
  • I don't think that they are subsidizing the cost of putting the A7 into the iPad mini any more than they are subsidizing putting it in the iPad Air. What they are doing is proceeding with a planned obsolescence of 32 bit based iPhones and iPads. In fact, I think that at some point we should expect a switch from Intel based processors in their desktop range to Apple designing and using their own processors. Possibly with far more 64 bit cores in laptops and desktops or multiple processors to reduce their reliance on Intel. I am certain that the dumbing down of the iWork and iLife apps on OS X and making them 'free' with new purchase is guide 'user familiarity' between the iPad and the apps on the Mac. It ease the transition to the use of multiple core 64 bit ARM processors in Mac's and of course, essentially it will be a little easier for dev's that have always done cross platform development for iOS and OSX to port Apps to an OSX that uses Apples own processors on a Laptop and Desktop Environment. Just my thoughts about this push towards 64 bit on the iPhone and iPad. It's not that they need to but because they need to make the older 32 bit iOS devices into obsolescence.
  • I'm always glad to see more power being put into phones. I don't think I'd ever use the phrase "more power than a phone needs to have" though. It might be true at the moment, but I think when you give developers more power to use, they tend to find a way to use it. A year or two from now, when a lot of people will still be using this phone, it might not seem like enough.
  • I'm not a spec junkie and I don't really give much more than a glance to a spec sheet these days but this is very true. Even if I don't need it someone will find a way to make it useful and then I'll want it more than anything.
  • Agree with this. We won't know for a couple of years if this statement is true. If it is, in a couple of years, this phone should still be blazing fast. I guess I'm skeptical because every top of the line phone I've owned has always seemed woefully out of date by my next upgrade.
  • I completely agree. I love how fast my 5c is and how much longer the battery lasts now because the phone doesn't struggle to run the apps (which was the impression I got from my old iPhone a lot - same apps now run blazingly fast and smooth as butter).
  • The iphone 5c does not have an a7. It is running an a6. Still a powerful mobile SOC
  • I don't think I'd use that phrase either. To be more correct it's "more power than iOS needs at the moment." Hopefully we see future updates and apps that take advantage of this power. A phone is a tablet..just a smaller one.
  • I sure hope so, I'm trying to go to a three year cycle on phones.
  • I lined up this morning an hour before opening - Happy, excited Apple folk, me
  • I lined up this morning an hour before opening - Happy, excited Apple folk, me
  • I lined up this morning an hour before opening - Happy, excited Apple folk, me & about 100 others (Perth City Store, Western Australia). Now have my gorgeous new iPad Air 128gb wifi cellular Silver with a yellow Smart Cover. Having had every model iPad since release, I am so impressed with the iPad Air. It looks as good as it feels, and is Super fast. Typing on the keyboard it feels as though you are skimming over the keys rather than touching them - it's extraordinary. Everything is at lightning speed! I have to play some more, but the experience so far is WOW!!
  • This shouldn't surprise anyone. I think this pre-dates the phone all the way back to IBM days. Apple/Mac made computers that were too powerful for the everyday user. IBM slowed computer speeds to make them more affordable. Apple/Mac has always pushed the boundaries and have been criticized for doing far I think it's worked for them. Please make more stuff that is just too powerful!
  • Things seem to have shifted at Apple. What was once "here's our best processor yet for iPhone, how do we get it into an iPad?", is now, "here's our best mobile processor, let's put it in everything!". Great to see iPhone and iPad on the same page. Though, I feel bad for the iPod Touch, (aka iPad Nano or iPad Shuffle?).
  • Hi Rene Brian’s reply was the best available really and kudos on what could have been quite a challenging question. I disagree than a device can be overpowered or at least for an extended period of time as software will evolve and make use of the additional resources to further enhance the device. Also Apple wouldn’t be able to sell us the next generation of super-fast processors if it was overpowered. I occasionally write for <a href="">iPad Repair</a> and I must use the MacBook Air power comparison as it is truly remarkable and is a perfect example or how fast technology moves. Best wishes