Apple’s 2.0 GHz A8 processor will leave the A7 in the dust

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The rumormill is reaching a fever pitch when it comes to Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6, and one of the hottest new reports concerns the handset’s alleged A8 chip.

While we’ve been seeing a new A-series processor each year, there’s still been no definite confirmation that Apple plans to include the A8 chip in its next generation devices, especially since developers have yet to push the A7 to its limits.

With that being said, the Chinese media is claiming that the A8 will not only happen, but that it will blow the current A7 out of the water: boasting frequencies of 2.0 GHz or more per core (compared to the 1.3Ghz A7 SoC found in the iPhone 5s and Retina iPad mini, or the 1.4 GHz found in the iPad Air).

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard numbers like this. Renowned Apple leaker Sonny Dickson has thrown out figures as high as 2.6 GHz for the A8 in the past.

While many people were expecting the next-gen processor to feature more than two cores, however, the Chinese media report also states that the A8 will continue to use the 64-bit dual,-core architecture, and will be constructed using the 20nm process.

If true, this makes the iPhone 6 (and future iPad models) even more exciting. Yesterday we reported that Apple is reportedly expecting to sell an unprecedented number of the iPhone 6: with an alleged order to manufacturers Foxconn and Pegatron twice that of the iPhone 5. On the chipset front, while Samsung and TSMC are reportedly Apple’s main chip suppliers for the company’s upcoming iOS devices, TSMC is supposedly gradually taking over from Samsung in this role.

  • http://chrisbrighton.co.uk/ Chris J Brighton

    This is great and all but we NEED at least 2GB of RAM!

    • http://fortheloveoftech.com Rich Woods

      People say that, but have you ever actually been using an iPhone or iPad and found that you didn’t have enough memory? That’s why Apple doesn’t announce how much RAM is in their devices. If people don’t know, they won’t even notice.

      • TJ

        Exactly, no need for 2GB RAM unless the device needs it. iOS devices are more than capable with the current 1GB RAM, increasing it just for the sake of it or for the sake of specs would be silly.

      • sigzero

        I don’t think more than 2 cores is a necessity either. It starts to get into the “spec wars” category.

      • Sean Gordon

        1GB is definitely not enough. People have different usage habits, and perhaps you haven’t experienced performance compromises, but many of us have. The buffered data from a few browser tabs and just a few open apps eat right through a half gig, as evidenced by utilities that show RAM usage and knowledgeable recognition of memory-based compromises. 1GB improves the situation, but is not optimal. Some mobile apps still have a rather large footprint, and 1GB is simply not enough headroom for many usage scenarios.

      • TJ

        I have multiple browser tabs open all the time, numerous apps, play high end games, all without issue. I’ve never felt myself needing more RAM, if other people do then that’s fine but I don’t think we’ll get it or that it’s needed in the product lineup right now.

      • Kr00

        That might be the case for android devices, as the bloat ware installed will grind your device to a halt, but not so with iOS. Using an iPad (2nd gen) has no app lag on iOS 7, so unless you’re doing something wrong with your device, I can’t see the point. The processor is the engine that does the work, not the RAM.

      • l3it3r

        For platforms that don’t have a chipset dedicated to making the battery last as long as possible in between every single user interaction, sure. But the A7 chipset in the 5S, iPad Air, and iPad mini 2 does just that. Press the home button while in an app and the application ‘freezes’ every single process that isn’t singled out to remain active (music, nav, etc). Games don’t run in the background. Web pages will load and render, and music will play, but the rest of the app is completely stopped. Thats what Apple is leveraging the insane power of their chipsets against; Power waste. Memory isn’t needed now since not many applications even come CLOSE to using the available power of the thing, and if they add more in the future, it’ll just be so that they can offload actions from active applications even quicker.

      • http://www.feastofbeast.com DJBabyBuster

        Having chrome open with a few tabs plus a couple more apps, I notice the lack of ram. All for 2GB of RAM. Maybe they could introduce it only in the larger 5.5″ model as they’ll likely be charging an extra $100 premium anyways for power users.

  • acslater017

    Count me skeptical. 1) The megahertz wars are long over and bumping up 600 MHz is a pretty clumsy way to squeeze performance out 2) The iPhone 6 will be thin – I don’t see a big clock speed bump being good for heat or battery life. 3)The A8 will probably be made in Austin, not Shenzhen. So while I might believe a shell/manufacturing leak from China, less so for processor info. (Edit: just realized TSMC, of Taiwan, is helping build the A8)

  • http://fortheloveoftech.com Rich Woods

    I had a feeling they would use the A7 again. When they announced Metal at WWDC, they said it was “optimized for the A7″. If they were using an A8, would they have optimized it for the A8?

    • http://www.MyTabletLife.com Chris Garcia

      Why would they announce Metal when A8 hasn’t been announced. Never how Apple works.. They didnt mention a SINGLE thing about developing for larger iPhone screen sizes either.. we know that is a given.. WWDC just never works that way.,

  • Hildebrand

    Maybe add to the story that the A7 is constructed using the 28nm process (to compare A8’s 20 nm process).

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    I suppose that still won’t be fast enough for the pundits who claim Android smartphones are leaving the iPhone way behind. The idea that the iPhone NEEDS more RAM because Android devices have more RAM is just speculation because the hardware and software are quite different between the two. I’m almost certain that’s something end users should have no say about. There are Android smartphones with over 2GB of RAM and they still stutter under certain use. It doesn’t make any sense to start a spec race if the UI already works as smooth as butter.

    Apple’s A8 may have faster internal memory to not require more RAM. Same with the iOS due to the way it is written to fetch instructions. A user should simply say they want whatever is necessary to keep things running smooth and not be asking for any particular hardware spec. If 95% of iPhone users have no problem with the present amount of RAM, Apple is definitely not going to double the RAM of all of its iPhones to please the 5% who do have a problem. It’s simply not cost effective to do something like that.

    • Shamur Stewart

      RAM is nearly as cheap as dirt. Don’t use cost to justify having only a gig of it.

  • JSintheStates

    One can argue processor speeds, but I don’t believe a 65% increase in core speed is going to leave another processor “in the dust”!

    Yes, even the Woz himself was asking for more memory, since the iOS devices are soaking up image data! I need more memory, not a paper thin (I am such a great designer) objet d’art!

    • Kr00

      Image data? What the hell are you talking about. The resolution of any image has nothing to do with required RAM. Images are rendered thru software acceleration not hardware, so the processor does the work. RAM is for app start ups and background processes.

      • Jhabril_Harris

        I lost it at Woz

      • http://www.MagicDonkey.co.uk/ Jonas Hamill

        I’d presume he means storage capacity, not memory. I may be wrong though.

      • Kr00

        Its almost impossible to tell with this guy’s understanding of technology.

  • http://www.feastofbeast.com DJBabyBuster

    Apple has always introduced a new processor for the full model switch over, and with the increase in screen size producing a higher demand than maybe ever before for the iPhone 6, I can’t imagine they won’t introduce an A8 processor.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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