Androids may catch up to Apple's A10 with ARM's new 'laptop-class, console-level' chipsets
ARM has a new mobile chipset architecture in the works for next year. That short sentence is capable of sending goosebumps down the spine of the initiated tech lovers, as ARM is the engineering bureau behind the Snapdragon, Exynos, Kirin, and all other Android chipset designs. Apple, whose A-series system chips are highly customized, still uses the ARM instruction sets, too.
The iPhones, however, have consistently outperformed top-shelf Androids, irregardless of their chipset model, in synthetic benchmarks. The reason behind that, according to analyst Patrick Moorhead, is that Apple has enough profit margin on its phones to build the A-series processors in a more expensive way, with way more circuitry, and more processor cache so that the system doesn't have to retrieve info from the slower operating memory.
ARM, however, will try and address exactly those issues with its upcoming Cortex-A76 architecture. It will be at least 35% faster than existing high-end Android system chips, much more energy-efficient in 7nm chips than the current 10nm crop (duh), and will rival Intel's Core-i5 7300 chip in terms of performance. With a bit more cache added, ARM's Cortex-A76 will be as powerful as Intel's flagship Core-i7 family (say what now?) The fact that ARM's engineers are sizing up their new architecture with Intel's mobile processors, should tell you where the wind will be blowing next year.
That's right, Microsoft is already highly interested in the A76 architecture, as, with Windows now able to run on ARM, it will lead to thin and light fanless laptops, and two-days battery life, without sacrificing performance in the process. According to Microsoft's Matt Barlow: "It just changes the way you work. You can go on a two-day business trip and leave that power cord at home."
What about my beloved phones, you cry? Well, a rising tide lifts all boats, and ARM's new Cortex-A76 will be addressing the shortcomings that make current A75 designs slower than Apple's A-series, by making the processor accommodate 33% more parallel instructions at once, accelerating memory communication, and predicting instructions to come down the set pipe. Coupled with the newly announced Mali-G76 graphics processor, or the dedicated Mali-V76 video chip, the phones with 7nm A76 processors should finally be catching up to Apple's monster custom designs, which may be power hogs, but highly optimized ones, with unrivaled peak performance (to the extent that they can make your iPhone's battery give up on supplying current from its aging bones).
Of course, by this time next year, Apple will likely have a second-gen 7nm A12 processor incorporating that same instruction set, so the cat-and-mouse game in mobile performance will likely continue unabated, for our viewing (and playing) pleasure. Google already tried the new system for its VR Daydream products, and came away impressed. "We have console level graphics with the G76," quipped the Daydream product manager, Rahul Praddad.