Apple A7 chip specs and details surface

Apple A7 chip specs and details surface
Apple is notorious for not sharing many hardware details in its launches and instead shifting the focus on the experience, not the tech specs. This however does not mean that the company is not doing a lot of heavy work on the silicon. The opposite is true actually as Apple is one of the few companies that design their own chips. It first started with the Apple A6 on the iPhone 5 where the company introduced its Swift processing core, and one would think that just a year after that, the new Apple A7 chip would ship with a slightly updated and polished processing core, but largely similar to Swift. That however is not the case.

The Cyclone processor core: unprecedented width

:"iPad Air vs iPad 4"Apple seems to have completely reworked its new processor codenamed Cyclone that it uses in both the new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina, and the iPhone 5s, according to low-level tests performed and analyzed by AnandTech.

Before we get into the technicalities, let’s mention that all new Apple smartphones and tablets (the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina) are powered by the Apple A7 chip. What’s a bit surprising with Apple’s choice of silicon is that all three new Apple devices actually feature the the exact same modification of the chip, the S5L8960X.

However, this chip does not perform equally on a tablet and on a phone. The larger space and better cooling possibilities of a tablet allow Apple to run the A7 Cyclone processing core at higher speeds. While the iPhone 5s features a dual-core chip that runs at up to 1.3GHz, the iPad Air uses the same dual-core chip but now at speeds of up to 1.4GHz.

What’s more interesting is that under heavy load, the iPhone 5s hits peak speeds for a few moments and then drops back to 900MHz, that’s Apple’s throttle here and it’s implemented to keep heating in check and battery life reasonable. On the iPad Air a throttle also kicks in, but it downsized the clock speeds to the much higher 1.2GHz. This means that under heavier loads, the iPad Air could perform up to 40% faster than the iPhone 5s, but not less than some 8% better.

We find particularly exciting that Apple’s new Cyclone core is a completely reworked processing core. Cyclone is the first ARM processor that we’ve seen come with a 6-wide instruction set, double the width of Apple’s earlier Swift core or Qualcomm’s Krait 400 cores. As for the GPU, the new Apple tablets use the same powerful IMG PowerVR G6430 as the iPhone 5s, and it is likely to run at up to 450MHz.

Apple A7 comes with lower power consumption

The Apple A7 chip is obviously built on a more efficient, 28nm technology, a step up from the 32nm manufacturing node on the earlier generation Apple chip. This alone should contribute to some power savings, but the beefier processor on the other hand could erase that advantage easily.

In real life testing, the iPad Air proves to be a battery-thrifty chip dropping down to 4 watts in less intensive tasks and still less than 5 watts in games like Infinity Blade. While peak power could theoretically reach as high as nearly 12 watts compared to up to 8 watts on previous iPads, real-life usage shows that the power drain actually averages to somewhere around 4 to 5 watts. So even though the Air is well capable of eating out battery quicker, in reality it is more power-savvy than earlier iPads.

All of this comes as Apple has decreased significantly the battery size. The iPad Air features a 32.4Wh battery, down from a 42.5Wh one on the iPad 3rd and 4th generations.

Now - somewhat surprisingly - having a smaller battery might actually be a good thing for an iPad. The tablet ships with a 12W charger and the large battery in earlier iPads meant that the device took an excruciatingly long nearly 6 hours to recharge. This drops to around 4 hours on the iPad Air, still not as fast as one would like, but definitely a more reasonable time frame.


All in all, Apple has done a lot of work under-the-hood to make the iPad Air the thin and light tablet that it is while still increasing its performance and maintaining its well-known 10-hour battery life. For more of the tiny processor and graphics performance details, head to the source link below, geeks won’t be disappointed.

source: AnandTech

Related phones

iPad Air
  • Display 9.7" 2048 x 1536 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A7, Dual-core, 1400 MHz
  • Storage 128 GB
  • Battery 8820 mAh



1. WHoyton1

Posts: 1635; Member since: Feb 21, 2013

lovely chip! Now lets see it on a platform that can utilise it!

3. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

+1. What's the point of such a powerful chip if they can't make it record true 720p in slo-mo videos....smh !

12. Shatter

Posts: 2036; Member since: May 29, 2013

Better looking games is about all that makes sense for these chips.

17. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

No point in running 'better looking games' if it has to run in 4 inch non-HD display !

19. papss unregistered

What about the air?

26. DukeX

Posts: 327; Member since: Aug 28, 2013

Forget the air. This is a phone we are talking about. Full HD isn't really needed but if apple wants to compete then they need to implement in. We cant hold on to retina displays forever...

21. eldyagustius

Posts: 182; Member since: Oct 30, 2013

I was satisfied with the only 4" display.. for me it's not a big deal.. this is a smartphone, not gaming phone.. probably if you look for the better looking games only by its screen size, go buy a tab or maybe even a PS4 with the Full HD TV.. you gone wrong if you want to find that experience only on smartphone :)

22. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

'I was satisfied with the only 4" display' ....Good for you. But the world prefers 5" displays over 4" that doesn't mean the entire world is being unreasonable because u don't find it plausible. 'for me it's not a big deal' - sounds like you are compromising and compromises should not be made for a $800 dollar phone (UK off-contract) 'you gone wrong if you want to find that experience only on smartphone' - I am not gone wrong. Those requirements I mentioned are currently available on all 2013 android models. Seems like someone is living in denial :)

32. bigstrudel

Posts: 606; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

Some people don't like large devices. You do. You dont speak for what the rest of the world wants. Some people prefer pockettable devices that are comfortable to hold and easy to slip into and carry around in any size pocket without feeling it at all.

33. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

Moto X is basically the size of the iPhone 5S and has a 0.7" larger screen. Your comment is 70% invalid.

35. bigstrudel

Posts: 606; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

The Moto X is 7mm wider than the iPhone. Thats the almost same width difference and in hand feel as going from a Galaxy S4 to a Note 3. Furthermore. The Moto X is not the rule. Its the exception. I love what Google's vision of an Android device should be. Almost bought a Moto X myself.

38. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

I am not speaking for the rest of the world but the world itself is. There is a reason why all other manufacturers Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, Oppo, Lenovo, ZTE, etc. except Apple have a 5" device. Its because the world is demanding so ! And the proof is they are selling well. So its not wrong for me to say the world is prefering towards 5" devices. And PapSmurf's reply#33 was directed towards your 'pockettable devices' statement. He meant to say several other devices have larger displays and yet are only marginally bigger than iPhones. i.e. 0.7mm doesn't make a phone 'unpockettable' but 0.7" is a welcome screen bump. Stop believing Apple's BS !

18. papss unregistered

Which is standard for apple. Say what you want but the games do run better on my ipad 4 than any I've had before.

24. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012

Even though I am a big Android fan I'll admit iPad 4/air is better than any tablets out there (factoring out the price that is). But, often when I use my mate's iPad 4, I've found the graphically intensive games crashes a lot. I frequently encountered that when playing injustice.

31. bigstrudel

Posts: 606; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

Yeah because Slo-Mo resolution is an absolute deal breaker for me. They probably curbed it for power draw or thermal purposes anyways. The iPhone is an extremely space constrained device. Its not a mobile TV like Android flagships. There will be sacrifices here and there.

34. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

There were sacrifices everywhere...

36. bigstrudel

Posts: 606; Member since: Aug 20, 2012

Elaborate? Or stick with baseless comment? Your call.

42. fteoOpty64

Posts: 8; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

"if they can't make it record true 720p". This is a limitation of the camera module/capture chip rather than the SoC. Small and cheap camera modules do not have the size nor power and quality of camcorder camera modules. You can see why no cell phone camera can beat a Go-Pro Hero 3 camera module!. Anyone would love to have such a camera in their phone!.

30. GeekyGene

Posts: 88; Member since: Aug 25, 2013

"Now lets see it on a platform that can utilise it!" It's on the *perfect* platform to utilize it actually.

2. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2265; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

Apple your the best.

4. tech2

Posts: 3487; Member since: Oct 26, 2012


14. HeWhoDoesNothing

Posts: 158; Member since: Jul 15, 2013

No, they're not.

27. GeekyGene

Posts: 88; Member since: Aug 25, 2013

Is this pantomime?

5. mr.techdude

Posts: 571; Member since: Nov 19, 2012

Ohhhhh Apple u make me cry when u innovate a chip that can reach 1.4 ghz, ouhhhh, 2.3 ghz is not fast at all no lets go with 1.4 ghz. All jokes aside but I have to admit when it comes to speeds for gaming and most apps nothing beats ipads and iPhones (coming from an android fan). No matter if android devices have 2.3 ghz the iPad air will beat that in real life performance. Imagine a 2ghz apple chip. GOD DAMN!!!!

7. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

ARMv8 (A7 1.3GHz) vs ARMv7 (S800 2.3GHz) I think.... Not sure though :/

8. Reality_Check

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Still not sure what the benefit is :S

11. gixxerrider311

Posts: 25; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

It's kinda like with AMD vs Intel CPU's, AMD advertises their chips to be quad core but in real time performance an i3 will outperform the A6 even though it's only a dual core. Apple really did an awesome job with their A7 chip.

13. TylerGrunter

Posts: 1544; Member since: Feb 16, 2012

The problem with your desire is that it's unreal. As it is built in 28nm if you clock that beast higher it would heat too much. To go higher in clock speed they would need to go lower in the node scale> 20 or even 16nm. They have done enough by creating a chip that can go against the lower Haswel core of intel (that are built on 22nm) And I actually find that chipset is GOOD NEWS for Android too, as it will (hopefully) stop the stupid trend of "more cores is better" and will start the trend "BETTER cores are better" as far as you have at least 2 of them.

25. brrunopt

Posts: 742; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

its not about ghz but consuption, that A7 at only 1.4Ghz is taking almost as much power as the S800 at 2.3Ghz. An A7 at 2.3Ghz would consume a gigantic amount of power...

28. GeekyGene

Posts: 88; Member since: Aug 25, 2013

"Ohhhhh Apple u make me cry when u innovate a chip that can reach 1.4 ghz, ouhhhh, 2.3 ghz is not fast at all no lets go with 1.4 ghz." Wat ......

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