Apple’s new A7 chip inside iPhone 5s is 64-bit, ‘desktop-class architecture’

By , Sep 10, 2013

A7 Chip

In revealing the new top-line iPhone 5s smartphone, Apple spent some air time talking about the all-new A7 chip. Contrary to previous reports and the somewhat mixed rumors, the new chip is 64-bit. This is huge. It’s the first time Apple’s made a jump to the modern 64-bit mobile architecture.

Apple says it’s the first such piece of silicon in a smartphone (“I don’t think the other guys are even talking about this,” Schiller said) and notes iOS 7 has been specifically designed with 64-bit computing in mind. They are calling it a “huge leap forward in mobile computing performance” as the A7 enables “desktop-class architecture” on a mobile device…

Apple’s previous in-house designed A-series processors were all 32-bit.

The A7 chip has a massive die measuring 102 square-millimeter – the same as the A6. It packs in over a billion transistors and contains two times general-purpose and floating-point registers of its predecessor.

Contrary to FOX reporter Clayton Morris’s claim of a mere 31 percent jump in performance, Schiller said the A7 is “up to twice as fast” in both CPU and GPU department, the its A6 counterpart.

iPhone 5S Fast Graphics

Compared to the original iPhone, the A7 sports 40 times faster CPU and 56 times faster graphics performance. On the GPU side, the A7 supports the latest in mobile graphics standard, including OpenGL EL for console-level graphics, Schiller said.

More interestingly, the A7 is capable of running both the existing 32-bit apps and those that have yet to be optimized for 64-bit computing. Apple on its part said it has re-engineered its own iOS 7 apps, kernel and drivers to be 64-bit and said its third-party developers should be able to re-compile existing apps to be 64-bit without too much hassle.

Sweet!

iPhone 5S CPU performance

As for the graphics performance, previous iPhone chips left competitors in the dust as Apple implemented UK-fabless maker Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR GPU units. The iPhone 5 features a three-core GPU inside its A6 chip (four GPU cores inside the iPad 4’s A6X variant).

iOS 7 64 bit

Though Apple stopped short of detailing the A7’s GPU unit, chip wizards over at Chipworks will solve the mystery once they have a chance to put the A7 under a microscope.

For now, the 2x performance claim should suffice but there’s no denying that the iPhone 5s packs a powerful punch thanks to the A7 chip and 64-bit optimized iOS 7. Such a powerful mobile processor makes more sophisticated and complex applications possible and I can’t wait to see what developers will be able to accomplish with it.

Is the A7 chip alone enough to entice you to upgrade?

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  • abdullah575

    Cool and faster phone !!!

  • Mohamed Ahmed

    that means that it is doble faster than A6X

  • Joseph

    Coolio. But this means that older devices will quickly fall out of use because apps designed with this processor in mind, and only this one, will never be backwards compatible, similar to how 64 bit applications won’t work on a 32 bit machine.

    That raises the question; should I wait until the iPad 5 or spring for the iPad 4?

    • James

      raises the question – not begs.

      • Joseph

        My bad. :p

      • James

        Haha no worries. Just a pet peeve of mine.

      • JaeM1llz

        “Begs the question” is a well-known idiom in the English language.

      • Windy

        Indeed, but as James correctly points out, it is mis-used like so much of the English language. Question begging is a powerful tool in debating, not a device for “raising a question”

    • Allen Greathouse

      Funny how no one actually responded to your question. I will, I would wait for the ipad and get an iphone 5s now.

  • batongxue

    Holy shite!!!!!

  • thats right

    Finally

  • Chris Holden

    i wonder how long it will take for samsung to announce their new 64-bit phone.. *rolls eyes*

    • Joseph

      Stop being a sarcastic asshole. 64-bit technology is nothing new, and it’s called being modern.

      • JaeM1llz

        Didn’t you know that Apple invented 64-bit computing?

      • Yash Gorana

        How much did Samsung pay you for writing sad comments about Apple huh >

      • Joseph

        How much did Apple pay you for being a fanboy? If you can’t keep up a proper discussion, then please leave this article and don’t talk to me again.

      • Allen Greathouse

        If you cant respond kindly then maybe YOU SHOULD LEAVE. Everyone was being kind until you showed up, now I am no apple or Samsung fanboy but I think you deserve to give even a fanboy some respect.

      • Joseph

        I don’t act kindly to people who don’t treat others kindly. Did you even read the comments above mine?

    • Dan

      That’s business, everyone copies everyone, companies try to improve upon others, more power to the consumer.

    • Melina Kanceraides

      Two days.

  • Martynas Linkevicius

    omfg I want that so baaaaaaad

  • Markus Hudobnik

    This is when my iPhone 5 feels slow all of a sudden.

    • hkgsulphate

      its already real fast…

      • Markus Hudobnik

        it’s a joke

    • Ishaan Malhotra

      I know the feel

  • workin

    Hehe m7

  • ic0dex

    They took the leftover A6X chips and named them A7

  • Taf Khan

    Let’s hope we some apps actually use the power of the A7 64bit CPU before the release of the A8… Tut tut. Not sure this ever happens

    • not a spark

      Oh well at least it will be more future proof

  • Joseph

    Apple shot themselves in the foot this time. Unless they manage to do some sort of wizardry with app compatibility, all apps designed with the A7 processor in mind will not work on previous devices, due to the different architecture. That effectively splits their app store into two sections; apps that are compatible with all devices, and apps that aren’t (there’s iPad-specific apps, but those are intentionally designed for and put off to the side for one specific set of devices). It’s an Apple fan’s worst nightmare; fragmentation.

    • Cameron Chao

      uhh, when they continually release new iphones and people are stuck with their old ones, as far back as 2 generations, isnt that the same fragmentation as we have now? Considering the iPad apps are totally separated from the iPhones, and that the iPhone 5C has the same specs as the iPhone 5, how much fragmentation change are we having as compared when Apple released their iPhone 4S? or iPhone 5?

      • Joseph

        Not my point, since I already addressed that. My point is that there are now two architecture variants, which will outright make apps that are designed for the iPhone not work on certain models, and make overall compatibility with all of the devices harder.

      • Cameron Chao

        Do you think its possible that App creators will be made to do both 64bit versions and 32bit? if not, im no expert here, but i do feel Apple has a way to ‘convert’ them to make it compatible.

      • Joseph

        Cross-compatibility is possible if the developer specifically does it. Older apps are probably screwed, in that case. And if there was a way to convert them… well, it would already be doable on computers that use those architectures.

        This is all speculation at this point. I’m a pessimist, but for the reason that in situations like these, I like being proven wrong.

      • Cameron Chao

        Its Un-Apple to start fragmentation after releasing a phone, they only did it when they had no choice and no other way around it, im talking about the lightning cable. I dont even worry about this, the 64bit apps will be supported device wide as long as the device isnt too old.

      • Joseph

        You don’t understand processor architecture. 64-bit applications can’t run on 32-bit devices.

      • Cole Hunt

        I believe developers will always start with 32bit architecture in apps and then re-compile into 64bit. You’re being dramatic.

      • jp2002

        Thank you. @disqus_ooiRunBkpH:disqus is acting dumb here. Any dev who reads his comments are gonna laugh their ass off.

      • jp2002

        Do you know there is no recoding involved? All you have to do is compile your app to a 64bit binary. And it wont be fragmented. if you are not sound technically, don’t freakin post sh*t. You are just dumb and flame this same point in all articles related to iPhone 5.

      • Joseph

        “This is all speculation at this point. I’m a pessimist, but for the
        reason that in situations like these, I like being proven wrong.”

        Please try reading and understanding that this is my personal speculation, and that I am not an app developer. Did you know that I only posted this point on this article, and not on all of them related to the iPhone 5 (I think you were referring to the 5s, but whatever)?

  • Taf Khan

    I won’t upgrade just for the CPU… Maybe I would reconsider if the user experience and apps were 40x better.

  • chumawumba

    Don’t worry samsungs already thinking about it

    • Joseph

      I’ll tell you the same thing I told the person below; it’s called adapting to keep up with the competition and staying relevant. Besides, Apple is still playing copy-and-catchup in a lot of places, so your statement is contradictory.

      • Cameron Chao

        want to see how long it takes for Samsung or Android to get their finger print sensor right? My guess, as long as it did for them to get their touch screen right. “Apple is still playing copy-and-catchup in a lot of places” Barely, you still dont see NFC, wireless charging and stupid handhovering gestures on its iPhone 5S. (and my guess wont ever)

      • Joseph

        Samsung/Android makers are the ones who choose the screens. Also, they still are, in terms of the superior hardware.

        As I said below, what you don’t find useful might be useful to other people. iDB made a post on this once, and if I was able to find it, I would link you to it.

      • Cameron Chao

        so they decided to use the same buttery smooth capacitive touchscreen about 3 years after Apple released their first iPhone?

      • Joseph

        I didn’t use Android or iOS that far back. Praise the dumbphone overlords!

        My first product from either was actually an iPod Touch 4G at the end of 2010, I think it was.

  • workin

    iPhone 5SLR hehe, good time to catch up and this unit is an iteration

  • Tom

    i wanted to download ios7

  • Yash Gorana

    R.I.P. Samsung
    R.I.P. Android

    • Guest

      Stop over reacting. Even you know that won’t happen.

      • Yash Gorana

        Naysayers gonna nay.

      • Guest

        No. Android has a larger market share than iOS, and it’s market share continues to grow every day as Apple’s has slowly continues to fall. You know the Android won’t die off just because of the iPhone 5S/5C, you are just being arrogant.

      • Yash Gorana

        Please go lick your laggy android phones. Get out of iDB.

      • Joseph

        Please go out and try a high-end Android device and see how it’s buttery-smooth. I’m sorry, but I’m here because I’m interested in Apple news just like you are, and I don’t need jolly assholes like you making it unenjoyable for a user of both types of devices.

      • Bob

        I have a “high-end” Android device and I hate it. Can’t wait to switch back to the iPhone.

      • Joseph

        Not my experience.

      • Pankaj Rana

        Using galaxy s4, that octa core is a fc*king shit, n jellybean too, it’s smooth but still not as smooth as iOS (using iPod 5 n iPad 3)… S4, a high end device, n my device hangs/crashes a lot :( I like both OSes but that’s fact my old 4S never hanged or crashed like my current phone, I’m facing plenty of problems with s4, possibly bcoz it’s an android device, .

      • Guest

        My Android experience hasn’t been bad. It isn’t any more ‘laggy’ than my iPhone was at times, and it has all the apps I need.

    • Joseph

      Most Android devices are still miles ahead of this, you know.

      • Cameron Chao

        Ya, when all you do is read the spec sheet and include its pointless features, it does look ‘Miles Ahead’ in that case i give it to you.

      • Joseph

        Said pointless features are either implemented into the latest device (for example, that new camera feature in the 5S where it selects the best picture is already in the Galaxy SIV) or made into a jailbreak tweak.

        Just because it’s useless to you, doesn’t mean it’s useless to other people. I’m willing to bet that you haven’t even tried the features, either, nor do you have a broad enough mind to see why it would be useful (let it be in certain scenarios or not). I would hardly call the features pointless, because if you want them, you’ll get the device, in which case, they’re not pointless to you. If you don’t want them, that’s all fine and dandy. That’s your choice, not mine.

      • Cameron Chao

        i wont get minor features i might need in exchange for a problematic phone that doesnt have a centralized and user friendly syncing cloud like what Apple has with iCloud, iTunes, Safari and Photo stream. Apple has the best all rounder phone that includes features that what Apple thinks will benefit most people. Samsung throws everything in and in turn causes problems because of bloatware.

      • Joseph

        iCloud is the same as Google’s backup feature that’s shown in the system settings on Android. iTunes is laggy on Windows machines, and besides, the apps that I want easily get redownloaded from the cloud if I choose when I restore my device (my Android device). Music is kept in the cloud via Google Music and *automatically* syncs whenever I add music to my music folder or iTunes, and I can download it locally from the device whenever I want, in easy batches (iOS doesn’t do it that easily, to my knowledge, or at least more slowly). Safari with cloud tabs is the same as Chrome with tab syncing. Photo Stream is the same as Google+’s photo syncing.

        All of Google’s services integrate into each other, and this is especially shown by how closely knit Google’s iOS apps are together. It’s essentially the same as Apple’s.

        What Apple thinks isn’t always what people want, this is the main advertising point that phone makers, especially Nokia and Samsung, use to allure people to their devices, and it’s actually one of their main weaknesses (and the reason why people jailbreak!).

        I don’t see why you’re using Samsung to represent Android. Yes, it has dominance on the Android market, but that’s hardly relevant to the vanilla Android OS, which is actually very stable and snappy.

    • Dao Sasone

      Haha u must b lagn in news jus lik apple lags in tech. Always da last to implement. I was realy expecting more from dem dis time.

  • Mathieu Reid

    64 bit is pretty much useless for now. Only really useful if you get more ram (more than 4 Gb).

    Only a future proof feature, because I doubt the 5c or 5s has that much ram.

    • Dao Sasone

      Hey, dey need a selling hype. Only sum.1 dat dont no much bout tech would fall fo dis. Dumb apple wrd everything as if its da greatest tech dats around. Dey are yrs behind others.

    • jp2002

      Open up your PC and check how much ram you use running multiple apps. Do you know virtual memory concept? Without knowing anything technical don’t jump to some conclusions. There is a big team out there in apple working on a single smart phone. Increasing RAM wont help much.

  • Saul

    OK a faster processor sounds good. But how about memory? I bet is still at 1GB.

    1GB is used up quick when you start customizing your phone with all them Cydia’s themes and tweaks.

    In fact my Iphone 4 is crap nowadays. It crawls with so many Cydia Tweaks installed and runs out of memory rather quick. It’s so damn slow compared to my Wife’s 1GB IP5.

    So like I said a faster processor is cool but I sure hope they increased the memory too.

    • Belthed

      “In fact my Iphone 4 is crap nowadays. It crawls with so many Cydia Tweaks installed and runs out of memory rather quick.”

      Well, that’s your fault, isn’t it?

    • omrishtam

      maybe u should UNjailbreak it…..maybe?

      • Saul

        An Iphone without Jailbreak sucks… It’s basically just a dumb phone. In fact I would never ever recommend an Iphone to anyone unless it can be jailbroken

      • Paul Meneshian

        “An Iphone without Jailbreak sucks… It’s basically just a dumb phone. In fact I would never ever recommend an Iphone to anyone unless it can be jailbroken”

        Fact^

      • 3aloo1

        True story

  • Allen Greathouse

    Sweet I’m hoping NDS4IOS will be able to run at full capacity now that A7 is available for it to use, because on my ipod touch 4g it is nearly unusable.
    Maybe powerful enough to emulate game cube games? Maybe? Ahh wishful thinking ;)

    • Joseph

      It won’t, actually. The thing is, nds4ios and nds4droid are based off of code from Windows emulators. Since that code isn’t specifically designed for the device, it tends to not do as well without major tweaking; at which point you may as well rewrite it.

      In fact, in order to get max FPS on Android, even on the highest end devices, someone had to code an emulator made completely from scratch (DraStic DS Emulator, look it up on Google Play). If a game can’t even play decently on a high-end Android device, I’m willing to bet that i 64t won’t be able to run all games at full capacity like DraStic can, even with the 64-bit processor.

      This isn’t a rant saying that Android is better. This is just proof that, if you want a full-speed DS emulator, you’re going to need an app written specifically for iOS.

      On that note, us Android users have Dolphin Emulator on the Play Store. It can barely run Gamecube or Wii games at the moment, so that’s out of the question for you all, as well, most likely. Then again, it’s also in alpha, so there’s that.

      • Allen Greathouse

        Saying that the dolphin emulator can barely run wii a game is a huge overstatement, basically you can get to the first frame of the loading screen.
        Also to your point of major tweaking of the windows version. I agree to some extent but what can I say, I just have to deal with it and the 5s seems like the best way possible to, because I cant code apps.
        If you find an android that can beat the iphone in EVERY way send it my way I might look into that ;)

  • Ishaan Malhotra

    Dual or quad? Doesnt really matter. 64 bit part is what impresses me

    • ttzero13

      Doesn’t matter. It’s dual core. But still beats every Android phone.

  • 3aloo1

    64 BIT Double the power :)
    But i think it consume battery more or what?
    And please apple More memory!!!
    Correct me if i am wrong

    • jp2002

      Yea your wrong. RAM is balanced rightly now. Increasing it would have no additional performance or multitasking improvement.

      • 3aloo1

        I meant it for jailbreak tweaks