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Apple's A11 Bionic SoC is kind of insane
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-09-13 16:40:52

With the iPhone X revealed, we really have to start talking about its processor and SoC - the A11 Bionic. It's a six-core chip with two high-power cores, four low-power cores, and this year, for the first time, includes an Apple-designed custom GPU. It also has what Apple calls a Neural Engine, designed to speed up tasks such as face recognition.

Apple already had a sizeable performance lead over competing chips from Qualcomm (what Android phones use) in single-core performance, and the A11 blasts past those in multicore performance, as well. Moreover, the A11 also performs better than quite a number of recent desktop Intel chips from the Core i5 and i7 range, which is a big deal.

For quite a few people it's really hard to grasp just how powerful these chips are - and to a certain extent, it feels like much of that power is wasted in an iPhone, which is mostly doing relatively mundane tasks anyway. Now that Apple is also buildings its own GPUs, it's not a stretch to imagine a number of mobile GPU makers feeling a bit... Uneasy.

At some point, these Apple Ax chips will find their way to something more sizable than phones and tablets.

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Apple to "apple"?
By QandA on 2017-09-14 01:57:22
I am not sure if it is an Apple to Apple comparison. Are we trying to compare RISC(ARM) and CISC(x86) architecture, isn't it?

https://www.quora.com/What-are-CI...

Edited 2017-09-14 01:58 UTC
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RE[3]: Performance
By JLF65 on 2017-09-14 02:28:43
> ARM @ 24 MHz

Yeaaaaaah. Something tells me that the software isn't handling the new iPhone correctly, making ANY figures suspect.
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RE[3]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By JLF65 on 2017-09-14 02:32:16
Only for phones and pads or the like. Not for laptops, and CERTAINLY not for desktops.
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RE[4]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By Kochise on 2017-09-14 02:52:01
I'm not sure if you are aware that st, atmel, nxp, xilinx, allwinner, mediatek, rockwell, whatever runs on ARM, not on x86. The world is not just desktop, pads and smartphones. Ask yourself what your tv, car or even fridge runs on.

Edited 2017-09-14 02:52 UTC
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RE[5]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By Darkmage on 2017-09-14 04:22:47
I am, 100% aware of the popularity of embedded applications and systems. I am also aware that Linux has completely failed to make a dent into desktop market share. This idea that people will magically drop Photoshop to take up Krita and GIMP is false. AND in the interest of full disclosure, I only use Linux systems at home and where possible at work. I've been using Linux for 16 years now. I can compile my own kernels, and I write my own desktop software using GTK. I also live with an artist who would burn the house down before giving up Photoshop and the Autodesk suite of programs. This idea that ARM will magically take over everything is a fantasy from people that hate Intel. Legacy applications are a massive driver of IT purchasing decisions. Sure ARM is popular on mobile/tablet devices where content is consumed and barely created, raw capture is one thing, deep editing is another. ARM isn't going to suddenly storm into workstations and servers because people want it to.

Edited 2017-09-14 04:24 UTC
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RE[6]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By woegjiub on 2017-09-14 04:58:36
It's not going to matter much what CPU it's running soon enough.

You may not have noticed, but there are proof-of-concept in-browser versions of the heavy hitters like CAD and photoshop.

With either wasm or electron, it's trivial to use the full extent of a platform's power, and do you really think Adobe is going to keep letting their software get pirated like it does?

Google office and MSOffice Online are only the start, it's all going completely subscription-based - and what better way than by requiring everyone use an OTA-updated universally compatible app?

Hell, look at desktop and mobile already - huge percentages of modern software are webapps in wrappers.


Even if you don't see the writing on the wall for desktop apps, there are large numbers of "professionals" for whom an ipad pro is already sufficient. Stick a keyboard on it and resurrect the "iBook" branding or something, and you really think the Adobes of the world are going to stand around while competitors like Sketch eat their breakfast?

Edited 2017-09-14 05:00 UTC
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RE[6]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By Kochise on 2017-09-14 05:02:09
Then why is there ARM based server ? At least attempts ? What is so particular to x86 that ARM cannot do ? It plays video and game, display pictures and the internet, can be used for office use, even lightweight clients runs on ARM.

The virtual machines (Net, Java) and JIT makes things so easy to port or even run any kind of software on ARM it is baffling you believe it won't work because desktop linux failed. I'm pretty sure Adobe could port Photoshop and whatever suits them if they find an economical interest doing so.

I was a 68k fanboy but turned agnostic because flaws in x86 were slowly removed and because the cpu implementation isn't really important provided it counts reliably and accurately. Pretty sure ARM will slowly take over the world, sooner or later. I'm not even sorry for the 50 year old x86.
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RE[3]: Performance
By Drumhellar on 2017-09-14 05:27:18
Exact same CPU, but different OS (OS X 10.12 vs 10.10) In this, every single sub-benchmark is faster on the newer version of OSX, without exception.

That probably has more to do with it.
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RE[7]: Expect ARM Powered Macbook
By shotsman on 2017-09-14 06:21:30
Ah, the mythical Web based thingy.

Naturally it relies upon an always on internet connection that charges by the bit for data going over it.

So there I am on a shoot and take a whole bunch of images with my new Nikon D850 (47MP). Say around 24Gb for a decent day in the field.
1) How long to copy that lot up to the cloud for the cloud version of Lightroom to work on it?
2) How much will that cost me from the middle of the Amazon rain forrest? Do you want an extra arm with that?

Sure, for a lot of people the cloud/web versions will work. But for a huge percentage of Photographers out of the studio? Forget it.
Have laptop, will travel and process images.
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RE: Comment by yoshi314@gmail.com
By fmaxwell on 2017-09-14 07:05:08
> apple is not going to compete on the market with their pricing, no matter what insane tech magic they whip out.

Since Apple doesn't sell chips, how do you know what their pricing would be? And why would it be so hard to command a high price for a chip that is likely twice as fast as the competition while being more energy efficient?

As to pricing of finished goods, there is no direct way to compare Apple's prices to those of other vendors, because you're not just buying hardware. When you buy an iPhone, you automatically get free and timely OS upgrades, the development of which is funded from your purchase. You get access to AppleCare, the best support available in the industry. You get access to carry-in service, support, and training at Apple stores all over the world. And you get a product that holds its resale value much better than competing products. How do you compare that to the price of an Android phone?
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