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

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.


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?