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.

source: AnandTech & CNET



1. AbhiD

Posts: 876; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Although this is very good to see a new performance level architecture from ARM making way for more powerful processors, one shouldn't be taking these lofty claims by ARM by the face value. With every new gen architecture, ARM has been making lofty claims but hasn't been able to deliver as much in the real world. Apple's A series has been simply outperforming every other Snapdragon, Exynos and Kirin out there and it will continue to be so. By the time A76 cores find a way in phones being launched, Apple would be already 2 steps ahead. And to think these mobile processors with low power usage can ever catch up in performance with desktop level processors is funny. This is all BS talk just to hype up the product. i5 ans i7's of the computer world are way more capable than any mobile processor can be in near term. Infact one should read the linked AnandTech analysis on this story's source. They have very well demonstrated/explained how these claims mostly won't hold up in real world applications in Smartphones.

5. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Apple may be ahead in terms of performance, but that did come at a cost as that performance is directly linked to the rapid battery degradation that results in people having to swap their batteries after a year.

31. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The thing is Apples Ax SoCs overheat and throttle down very quickly with very intensive tasks. Where as Qualcomm's SoCs can perform very intensive task like VR and sustain its speed. Apple never did anything with VR, because they already knew their SoCs would overheat and shutdown. Apple has some high benchmark test scores, but when it comes to real world tasks, we have all seen how well Qualcomm stands up to Apple, and in many cases beats Apple. It's well known that Apples SoCs have larger amounts of cache on board compared to Qualcomm's SoCs. Which is really great for benchmark scores. Still Qualcomm's GPUs kick Apple's GPU's to the curb.

44. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

You mean snapdragon not A11 or Exyons 9810 Lol.

54. Macready

Posts: 1830; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

It's a clickbait title and article anyway. First it (and its title....) asserts that the new A76 cores may allow SD designs to catch up with A10 speed, but later on mentioned this: " 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?)" Meaning, it jumps from comparing single core performance as a key parameter for speed (which it isn't, Android is a multi core platform all day and night long and processors are designs as such) to multi core performance as mentioned in the quote above, since the key difference between i5 and i7 platforms is... the amount of cores*. Not the single core speed in general. *yes, I know there can be more differences, but that is the key difference in general.

2. iPhoneFanboy

Posts: 286; Member since: Apr 21, 2018

Is Aprils fools late this year?

3. kamejoko

Posts: 255; Member since: Nov 10, 2011

apple cheated. Check on Geekbench, all cpu of apple run max cpu speed. A11 @2.3Ghz. When see to android all run 1.7Ghz or 1.8Ghz. Why benchmark no run same cpu clock speed?

6. NateDiaz

Posts: 1093; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

Calm your manly tits bro

21. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

"Why benchmark no run same cpu clock speed" I don't think you understand how Geekbench work, it just use the clock speed it's allowed to use :-/ If snapdragon limit their core to 1.8GHz, then geekbench only use up to that limit. And if users overclock it (Let's say i9 to 5GHz) then Geekbench will use that 5GHz (while displaying stock clock)

23. Boast_Rider

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

You both are wrong. Actually, geekbench reports the frequency of the slowest core which runs during the benchmark. Apple's little cores run at 2.3 GHz, while big cores run at a higher frequency(I think 2.8 or 2.9 GHz). Same with SD 845, where small cores run at 1.8 GHz and big run at 2.8 or 2.9 GHz. Hence the frequencies. i9s run at full frequency for all cores, hence the full numbers reported.

34. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

The benchmark scores between Apples SoCs and Qualcomm's are a joke. It's well known that Apple packs a ton of cache on their Ax SoCs. Plus the graphics related benchmarks are a real joke. They will compare benchmarks with Apples scores using Apples Metal to Qualcomm's and Androids OpenGL 3.0 or 3.1 scores. Why not use Vulkan for Android and Qualcomm nowadays. The thing is Apples Metal is similar to Vulkan graphics. So why has 3DBench and Geekbench as well as other benchmark tests not switched over to Vulcan? It been on Qualcomm's hardware since 2015, and in Android since 2016. Last time I looked it's 2018, and those benchmark applications still use OpenGL. That's why people should take those benchmarks with a grain of salt.

39. Boast_Rider

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Well, the Apple SoC is still faster in CPU. It uses a wider architecture, and of course it's faster. No one told Qualcomm to use small cache in their CPUs. The thing is, android manufacturers can't do that. Samsung tried with their Exynos 9810 and failed hard. These 3W CPUs require very fine-grained control over OS and hardware, which is impossible to do for android. The only way to do it is like ARM does. Make super low-power 1W CPUs and slowly ramp them up.

42. sgodsell

Posts: 7605; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

"These 3W CPUs require very fine-grained control over OS and hardware, which is impossible to do for android. " You really don't know what the hell you are taking about. First of all Android does give you fine grained control over OS and hardware. You can even kill every process to the point that your Android device will be like an iPhone, which halts every task as soon as you switch to another task. But I guess you never knew that because all you have ever used is an iPhone.

43. Boast_Rider

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

LOL, I use a Oneplus 3. And I was praising ARM's decision. There is a reason they are not going the way Samsung went with the Exynos 9810 with a wide core. And no, I have seen a lot of rogue apps on android. Even the popular ones like facebook are absolute dogs**t. And don't tell me no one uses facebook. Yes, android gives you the ability to do that, but no manufacturer would be stupid enough to do that. iOS apps on the other hand are made very well, and they don't have access to as much system resources as android, hence can't go rogue. Anyway, I'm quite happy with the A76 core. We should get A10 level performance at less than half the power consumption. I would rather have that than the A11, which throttles after 5 minutes.

67. vincelongman

Posts: 5803; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Rogue apps have nothing to do with CPU core widths The reason the 9810 has poor efficiency is because Samsung hasn't designed their hardware front end and firmware to use its m3 core's resources efficiently enough It ramps up and down way too slow as mentioned in Anandtech's deep dive I have no doubt the m4 will have major improvements in its front end to try fix this My theory is ARM's core will eventually become as wide as Apple's too We've already seen: 2017 A73 2-wide-> 2018 A75 3-wide-> 2019 A76 4-wide I won't be surprised if the next is 5-wide, and eventually 6-wide like Apple And if eventually Snapdragons become 2 big + 6 little for 8XX, 1 big + 3-5 little for 7XX

68. Boast_Rider

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Andrei did 2 follow-ups to that article, in which he modified the scheduler, removed the hotplugging, and did all the modifications he could do. Even after that, he just wasn't able to beat the 845. Neither does the A11. Sure, it performs really well in short bursts, but at 3x the power consumption. I would rather have a 1.2W CPU that gives 9000 on geekbench, than a 3W that gives 10000. Not to mention that the A11 can't sustain the performance of either the CPU or the GPU for very long. The reason ARM is only now going 4-wide is because at 7nm, it makes sense. Yes, they will go wider eventually, but by then the efficiency of process will be so advanced that we will be able to get the same 1W TDP. It's not that they can't go 6-wide now. If Samsung can, ARM definitely can. But phones are fast enough right now and most people would rather have the battery life.

69. vincelongman

Posts: 5803; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yep, that's why I reckon the HARDWARE front end is where Samsung's major improvements are needed (but software improvements will still help)

70. Boast_Rider

Posts: 536; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Well, let's see if they are able to fix it with the 9820. They also have a chance to patch it with software with the Note 9 as well (though knowing how Samsung's software teams work, I know fully well that won't happen).

45. Trex95

Posts: 2383; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

IOS written with advanced c++ android written with carpy java.

4. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1482; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Let's hope ARM at least does it in a way where it doesn't kill the battery at an accelerated rate, like Apple's A series does.


Posts: 202; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

No hardware can fix unoptimized software

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4369; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Exactly this

12. may_czos

Posts: 957; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Android flagships have slower SoCs (at least on paper), they have to run the virtual machine, yet they're as fast as the newest iPhones. iOS is the one that needs some optimization.

16. cmdacos

Posts: 4369; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

That was my thought. Apple A series chips are so powerful yet lack of ram optimization and software issues hold it back.

17. tedkord

Posts: 17505; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They don't run like a VM anymore. Apps are compiled on install with ART, unlike the older Dalvik runtime.

9. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Who wants to bet this won't be in smartphones even on 7nm? Android needs better optimisation, the chipsets are fine (though their innovations are underutilised [e.g. who's using QSync?]). Google should have mandated Vulkan based apps this year.

11. may_czos

Posts: 957; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

Android is already better than iOS. Android flagships are equally fast as the newest iPhones while sporting slower processors (based on benchmarks) and having to run the virtual machine.

35. vuyonc

Posts: 1091; Member since: Feb 24, 2014

Sorry, I mean optimisations from apps not the OS itself. Vulkan support has been slow for Android apps and games.

10. may_czos

Posts: 957; Member since: Nov 22, 2014

This Apple speed is a myth, with recent changes in many benchmarks, they're not comparable cross-platform anymore (for using multiplierts or constants characteristic and favouring Apple SoCs). Speed tests or custom made benchmarks are clear - Qualcomm is on par with Apple, Android is on par with iOS.

14. japkoslav

Posts: 1553; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

This is sadly true. Often, when I am chilling on the sofa, I pick myself Xiaomi Mi Max 2 instead of iPad Pro laying next to it. Brave on the Android is much smoother experience than Safari on iOS. And Max 2 uses SOC that is like 30% of the speed of iPads. Still, I am planning on buying new iPad Pro or Tab S4 ... or both.

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