We’ve heard a lot about what to expect from this year’s iPhones – being dubbed the iPhone 12 for now. We expect a tile design similar to that of current iPhone 4 and iPad Pro models; rear flight time sensors for better AR and portrait mode performance; faster 5G mobile data support; 6 GB of RAM; and an A14 processor with a 5nm process.
But what does this 5nm process mean for phone power? New analysis suggests that it could mean that the iPhone 12 is as powerful as the 15-inch MacBook Pro …
MacWorld’s Jason Cross is back with another look at what Apple’s next A14 chip could offer, and he suggests it could be a lot.
He begins by pointing out that moving from a 7nm process to a 5nm process may not seem like much, but it is really a big problem.
This is a great upgrade. The 5nm mode is not half a step by any stretch, but it is the next “full knot” after 7nm (…)
If we take TSMC by the word about improving the density of the 5nm process transistors, we are looking at an incredible 15 billion transistors. More than all of them, but the biggest high-end desktop and server processors and GPUs. It’s enormous. It is so large that I would not be entirely surprised if Apple reduced the total area of the chip a bit to around 85 mm square and to around 12.5 billion transistors.
This could allow Apple to do better than the trend line would suggest in terms of multicore performance in particular.
The trend line gives us a score of around 4500, but I think a combination of architectural changes and clock speed will give us a lot more. I wouldn’t be surprised if Geekbench 5’s multi-core score climbs to around 5,000.
For what it’s worth, the fastest Android phones get around 3000 on this test, and a score of 5000 would be similar to traditional 6-core desktop processors or high-end portable processors. This is the territory of the 15-inch MacBook Pro.
More transistors in the GPU and the rumored (faster) 6 GB of RAM could see the performance of games increase by around 50%.
I expect Apple to spend a large transistor budget to make the GPU more powerful. With more memory bandwidth, we can probably expect GPU performance far beyond predicting the low range trend line of 7,000 in this test. Unless there is a new bottleneck, I think a score above 9,500 is certainly possible. In other words, I think we can expect a 50% improvement in graphics performance for the type of high-end graphics used in games.
Cross expects even more improvement in another area of the A14 chip: the neural engine.
With the higher transistor budget offered by the 5nm manufacturing process, I think Apple will add Neural Engine cores this time, and could also make other architectural improvements. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Apple claim that machine learning tasks are at least twice as fast as on the A13.
The whole play is worth reading.
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