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AnandTech reviews the iPhone 5: A6’s Swift processor clocked at 1.3GHz, taken through paces

Posted: , by Victor H.

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AnandTech reviews the iPhone 5: A6’s Swift processor clocked at 1.3GHz, taken through paces
The Apple iPhone 5 has been out for almost a month now, and while that might seem like a lot of time, it has been barely enough for tech gurus from AnandTech to take the device through its paces. And testing they did.

Why is this important? AnandTech gives the single most technical review of the iPhone 5, so for those who really want to understand what hardware Apple uses and why despite playing down specs, the company is actually running ahead in the silicon race. At the same time, Apple releases very little technical details about its custom-made chips like the A6 in the iPhone 5, and that’s why you need to do some state-of-the-art testing to get basic specs like the clock speed of the processor.

The first big conclusion that Anand and crew draw about the iPhone 5 is that Apple is actually delivering more than the double processor performance it announced at the unveiling. The iPhone 5 is powered by an A6 chip and on the die is a processor clocked at the unprecedented for Apple 1.3GHz. The processor itself is called Swift, and it is a custom Apple solution built on top of the architecture license from ARM. Anand expects this to signal a huge increase in the next iPad’s processor, possibly with Apple bumping it up to 1.5GHz.

Sadly, there are little good benchmarking apps for iOS (and cross-platform for that matter) to fully show the differences, but from the few Javascript tests available, it is clear that the iPhone 5 processor is cream of the crop, second only to Intel’s Atom Z2460 chip found on devices like the Motorola RAZR i. Apple has shrunken the size of the A6 chip itself, but it’s still not a small one.

You might remember that the iPad starting with the late second-gen tablet had the huge A5X chip, measuring a whopping 163mm2. This meant a lot of space for graphics, but while the new A6 measures a comparatively low 97mm2, it still has three cores, and runs all three cores at 33% faster speeds than on the A5. All are still PowerVR 543 cores, and this makes the whole setup deliver performance comparable to that of the third iPad. The difference? It’s in a phone.

Bottomline is that when someone tells you that Apple doesn’t care about specs and hardware, they’d be plain wrong. The company in Cupertino is on an aggressive one year cadence which it has followed rigorously with the sole exception of the iPhone 4S. While rivals like Samsung also have started releasing one flagship per year, Apple has the advantage of a fall launch, just in time for the Holiday season when sales flourish. There is a lot more to learn in the review below, so just head on there for all the interesting details.

source: AnandTech

30 Comments
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posted on 17 Oct 2012, 06:12 7

1. wendygarett (unregistered)


It's worth to buy :)

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 07:06 3

7. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


I feel like owning buying one... Apple why didn't they clock it at 1.6 and use 4gpu? And overclocked Gpu to 527mhz, This phone would be ultimate..,

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 07:17 5

10. wendygarett (unregistered)


Lol because it is an Apple silly :D
It would be much better if you stick back to android :)

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:01 8

12. TylerGrunter (Posts: 874; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


Because it would increase a lot power comsumption and the iphone has only a 1450mah battery, and increasing the battery capacity that would have meant to increase the size and weight of the phone.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 09:27 5

21. Jericho (Posts: 302; Member since: 12 Nov 2011)


No matter what processor they are using like every phone, The Mapple myphone 5 will be smoked by The Windows Phone.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 06:14 3

2. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


Would have been cool if they were Krait cores....

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:05

14. buccob (Posts: 1353; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


I agree... I want to see a comparison with the PadFone 2 and the new LG

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:16 5

17. Victor.H (Posts: 409; Member since: 27 May 2011)


What would have been cool about it when Swift is clearly shown to beat Krait phones in the benchmarks?

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 09:06 6

20. sheik (Posts: 249; Member since: 12 Sep 2012)


I am no tech nerd... but iPhone 5 does not exactly beat Kraits, in Gsmarena, Xperia T scores better than i5 in Geekbench, and GLBenchmarks(Egypt)....

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 12:31 1

26. TylerGrunter (Posts: 874; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


I have to defend Victor here. I am a tech nerd and can tell you two things:
Krait and Swift (iphone cores) manage to get similar values in Geekbench 2 only cause krait cores are clocked at 1.5 MHz while Swift are clocked at 1.3 MHz. That means that the Swift will be more battery savvy than then krait (As Anand points out)
Most of the tests show that the Swift is around 10% more powerful than the Krait, not much, but not bad.
For GLBenchmarks: Xperia T is the GLBenchmark 2.1 while the iPhone 5 is the GLBenchmarks 2.5. the second one is around 3 times more stressfull in the GPU.
Conclusion: the chip in the iphone is around the same as a dual krait PRO at 1.5 GHz with Adreno 320, MSM8960T (Xperia T has the Krait with Adreno 225, MSM8260A), but a bit more battery friendly.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 12:28

25. XPERIA-KNIGHT (Posts: 2384; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


which "krait" are we talking about? dual or quad pro?

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 12:38 2

27. TylerGrunter (Posts: 874; Member since: 16 Feb 2012)


Krait refers to the CPU so it doesn´t really matter if you are talking about the power of individual cores, as both have the same CPUs (that´s what Victor is probably referring to).
The iphone is only match to he dual kraits, it has more or less the same power. The quad-core kraits should be around 60% more powerful than the A6 in CPU and more or less equal in GPU.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 06:22 9

3. BadAssAbe (Posts: 434; Member since: 22 Apr 2011)


The Iphones are good phones but i hate apple with a passion because they are way overpriced and i feel they take advantage of people who they marketed to.

phone simple and works, so lets overcharged

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 06:35 5

4. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


Android phones are already moving towards s4 pro with adreno 320 which gives A6 run for its money both in cpu and gpu department. And newer generation exynos, tegra and Omap are yet to arrive.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 07:10 1

8. TROLL (banned) (Posts: 4851; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Even those would fail to Exynos. The S4pro. S4PRIME. S4+, if the A6 was clocked at 1.7ghz with Pvr543mp4 Adreno don't stand a chance.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 07:10 8

9. TimTebow (Posts: 70; Member since: 14 Feb 2012)


Anandtech is in bed with Apple.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 17:55

28. wumberpeb (Posts: 423; Member since: 14 Mar 2011)


Tim Tebow is in bed with...

...no one

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:03 1

13. nofear (Posts: 149; Member since: 22 Jun 2012)


A6 is dual core processor, Apple did not give more than 2 core. TimTebow, you are right! on this one, Anandtech got Tim cook's a$$.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:12

16. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


Also, the android benchmarks scores are lower than they should be. Anandtech has apple fetis. Just look how long their idevices reviews are.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:29

18. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


What the hell is with that ridiculous notion about the Intel chip?!?

That said, yes the A6 is, overall, the best phone chip on the market right now.. but S4 pro is just about to roll out, and it is already a superior solution. And by the time A7 gets reviewed, this apple chip will see many other soc's taking over the charts.
So objectively, it's nothing to write home about.

BTW, in Geekbench - the only true cross platform benchmark - A6 is significantly outperformed by the quad core Exynos 4 (Galaxy S 3 and Note 2)

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 08:46

19. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


"That said, yes the A6 is, overall, the best phone chip on the market right now."
- On what basis can you say that ? Exynos in s3 and snapdragon s4 outperform A6 in many benchmarks and that too is highly software dependent. Only in GPU does A6 beat others.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 09:29

22. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Overall, meaning CPU+GPU performance, power efficiency and connectivity.
Compared to dual core Krait, seems like Swift takes a victory on all three fronts.
Compared to quad core Exynos, it gets partially beaten only in CPU department.

Anyways I've just read the whole review and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Glad to see that the author basically made the same point that I have:

" At a high level, it would appear that ARM's Cortex A15 is still a bigger machine than Swift. Swift instead feels like Apple's answer to Krait. The release cadence Apple is on right now almost guarantees that it will be a CPU generation behind in the first half of next year if everyone moves to Cortex A15 based designs."

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 09:47 1

23. PackMan (Posts: 277; Member since: 09 Mar 2012)


Fair enough. But I am not sure about the power efficiency and connectivity part. Hard to measure.

posted on 18 Oct 2012, 03:54

30. darac (Posts: 2156; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


Yeah, that's a point alright.
Actually I think I need to correct myself.. overall (since geekbench is the best overall cross -platform measure we have ) the Exynos 4412 still seems like a more capable computing machine.
Swift holds up hugely thanks to the GPU.
Swift has dual core Krait edged out slightly in CPU and convincingly overall, thanks to much more powerful GPU and Java script optimizations.

posted on 17 Oct 2012, 12:14

24. TheDarkKnight (banned) (Posts: 88; Member since: 12 Oct 2012)


So android fans, it looks like we are using superior, smart and more power efficient technology in the palm of our hands.

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