Why are Apple’s SoC’s faster than Qualcomm’s (Or other competitions)

Apple vs qualcomm

 

 

Ev​ery year Apple releases a new iphone© and with it, a new SoC or system on chip (Basically the processor). Last year was also not different with the release of the apple iphone© 8,8plus and X(ten). With this apple introduced a new chip dubbed the A11 bionic which is a six core processor using the arm64 architecture. The chip is designed in house by apple and it uses 2 high performance cores and 4 high efficiency cores. 

The main difference is in the performance gains.

With this chip apple claims to have a 25% boost in the 2 high performance cores and almost 75% boost in the 4 power efficient cores compared to the previous iteration the A10 fusion found in the iphone 7&7plus.

This chip also has the ability to use all 6 cores

at once compared to the A10 which can use either the 2 high performance cores or the 2 low performance cores at any given time.

As always in benchmarks the A11 smashes the flagship Soc from Qualcomm the SD 845.

A11 BionicA10 FusionSnapdragon 845
Process10 nm16nm10nm
CPU64bit

hexa-core 2xmonsoon+

4xmistral

64bit quad-core 2x hurricane+

2x zephyr

64bit octa-core 4x cortex A75+

4x cortex A55

Core schedulingPer corePer clusterPer core
GPU3 core6 coreAdreno 630
RAM typeLPDDR4LPDDR4LPDDR4
Geekbench 

Single core

426033992422
Geekbench  Multi core1022153868351

As you can see, whilst the SD 845 has more cores for sure, the A11 absolutely creams it in terms of benchmarks. But why is it so?

1.A bit of history

Up until 2013 smartphones were using the 32 bit architecture with Qualcomm leading the pack with their krait cores. In 2014 Apple threw the hammer by releasing the first 64bit Soc(A7) in their iphone 5s at the time when Qualcomm were refining on their 64bit process. Since then Qualcomm and other companies have been playing catch up with apple. So historically Apple has been almost 2 generations ahead of the pack.

 

       

            Sourced from android authority                     

 

2.Manufacture of the Soc itself

You see, When apple comes up with a new iphone, all the team members are tightly coupled with each other in production of the phone. From the chip to the screen to the………well, you get the point. This means that apple can make a huge investment of their

R&D for the SoC itself and compensate for that loss somewhere else

(aka RIP 3.5mm jack). And this also means that the lack of optimisations in the software front can be compensated by the sheer power of the SoC itself.

 

Whereas in the case of Qualcomm or any other chipmaker for that matter…..They rely on outsourcing their components for instance, the cores are provided by ARM. And these chipmakers supply to phone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, etc. where these processors get utilized in their phones.

Here these companies don’t invest much in production of their SoC so they compensate the lack of power with the optimizations with the software side of things.

 

3.The actual chip itself

Since Apple invests a huge amount of their R&D for their SoC, they can use a larger silicon die for their processor (upto 2x larger than competition) this can lead to development of more powerful cores and more space for cache and other components (More about the cache situation in a bit…)

But when it comes to the competition, since they are outsourcing, The companies (In this case ARM) need to make a profit. They make this profit by reducing the area of the silicon die. This reduces the capabilities of the processors in the above mentioned parameters thus less powerful. This is also contributed by the fact that these companies make products for the mass market. 

For example, ARM makes chips from routers to car ECU’s so they have a wide range of products and need to manage their funds during the development of their chips. Same case for Qualcomm (or other chipmakers) which uses these ARM cores and mix-match them to make different skews of processors from the low-end 200 series to the flagship 800 series. Whilst apple has to only make one processor for essentially one product for a specific niche (Which is why android is the most used operating system).

About the cache thing………. Look at the image below

Sourced from android authority

Compared with the SD 845 which has only 2mb at L3 you can see the larger silicon advantage that apple has This means that the apple SoC can load apps and data much quicker thanks to it’s massive amounts of cache.

 

Conclusion 

These info might have helped you realise the technological leap that apple has over it’s competition. Does this mean that apple phones will always be the king in SoC’s……………….????????

Well……………not quite. Due to the enormous resource that Google has on it’s software front the lack of raw power can easily be compensated by software optimizations thereby eliminating any susceptible lag or jitter in the software interface. Also with the outbreak of AI technology. These chipmakers can level the playing field by the AI side of things as these advancements can lessen the amount of sheer power required for a specific task. Also, chipmakers like Huawei are incorporating hardware level NPU’s to their processors to enhance the AI capabilities. This can give them a serious advantage over apple in these aspects. So  perhaps apple might get dethroned from the following years.

 

Anand
Anand

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