A year ago Apple began the transition of its Macintosh from the use of processors with ISA x86 to ISA ARM, specifically to the same SoCs that they use in their PostPC devices, iPhone and iPad, and they did so with their M1 SoC, the which was nothing more than a version of his A14X Bionic.
Well, a year later Apple has released its A15 Bionic, which will be the basis for an eventual Apple M2 in the next generation of MacBook and iMac. Among its novelties are improvements in all aspects with respect to its predecessor such as the use of LPDDR5 memory, a new GPU architecture that doubles the computing power per core, a Neural Engine with greater capacity, a new video codec and even a new ISP.
However, it seems that the new Cupertino SoC keeps a dark secret regarding the performance of its CPU.
Apple A15 Bionic stalls on CPU performance
Whenever a new SoC appears, it is expected that there will be an increase in performance in all its elements, especially in the case of the central processor or CPU, but in this case Apple has hidden the leap in performance from one generation to another, the only thing that We know is that it is a 6-core configuration, composed of 2 Avalanche cores that are high performance and 4 of the efficient type called Blizzard.
The alarms have been triggered by a statement from Apple itself regarding the new iPad Mini where they state that the performance compared to the previous version, based on the A12 SoC, has improved by 40%. Which shouldn’t put anyone on alert if it weren’t for the fact that it’s the same leap in performance on the iPad Air with the A14 Bionic released last year and also with 6 cores.
Therefore Apple is claiming that the CPU in your new APU has not undergone performance improvements compared to the previous model, which has led to rivers of ink in recent days because it is being transmitted by those of Tim Cook who want to put the brakes on CPU advances.
Is it the end of the golden age for Apple processors?
One of the best purchases that have been made in the hardware world is the one that Apple made of PA Semi during the 2000s, which was the germ that allowed them to have a hardware development team for the first creation of their iPhone and then its range of products to finish even on its Macintosh personal computers, marking the third transition in terms of ISA in the history of the company.
Everything points to the fact that despite the fact that those from Cupertino have given new names to the CPU cores in the A15 Bionic, we would really find ourselves facing almost the same architecture as its predecessor and as we have commented before, the improvements come from the processors of Support and accelerators that would have been improved, as the new SoC has a total of 15 billion transistors compared to less than 12 billion in the previous design.
What do the gossips say? Well, the departure of Apple’s former chief CPU architect, Gerard Williams, to found Nuvia in combination with 100 other people who were under his command. The company is currently owned by Qualcomm, having been bought out a few months ago. So the company now run by Tim Cook has been left without the key engineers who have allowed it to be on the crest of the wave in the last decade.
Of course, we cannot deny that at the moment Apple has the best CPUs under ISA ARM in the industry, but it will be necessary to see how this talent drain affects them in the medium term in the future of their processors.