Apple A10 Fusion Is Definitely Fast, But Its GPU Bit Is a Whole New Story

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Dec 2, 2016
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Apple’s A10 Fusion makes huge leaps and bounds are far as performance and efficiency is concerned, and the cores running inside the chipset are much bigger than the competition. However, despite the performance increase, the graphics architecture running alongside the quad-core processor might not be so different after all, as you will soon find out.

Apple A10 Fusion Uses a Custom PowerVR GT7600 GPU From Imagination Technologies – GPU Is Not Any Different Compared to the One Present in iPhone 6s

That is correct; instead of using a next generation PowerVR GPU inside the iPhone 7, Apple has decided to use custom PowerVR GT7600 GPU, which is the same one present in the company’s 2015 iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. The analysis was carried out by The Linley Group, which specializes in semiconductors, and states that the underlying architecture of the GPU is the same, while Apple claims that the A10 Fusion is twice as fast as its predecessor, the A9. It also claims that the GPU is around 50 percent faster. Though Apple’s claims are in the green zone in some benchmarking tests, other tests show that the GPU hardly fairs well.

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What Is the Biggest Problem With the Custom GPU Apple Used?

According to Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst at Linley Group, states in a research note that while the custom GPU is definitely impressive, it is unable to sustain that performance for long due to a popular term that we’ve all come to know and hate as thermal throttling. Gwennap is under the impression that Apple increased the clock speeds by 50 percent in order to bolster those GPU speeds, but as we’ve seen on modern-day graphic chips, increasing the clock speed has a nasty trade-off with high temperatures. While the custom GPU definitely takes the lead when it comes to comparison against other chips, its inability to sustain performance is definitely one of its weakest points.

“We believe the iPhone 7, to avoid overheating, throttles back from its top GPU speed after a minute or less, preventing it from achieving a high score for all users.”

To recap, the A10 Fusion GPU has a total of six cores and operates at around 900MHz. Imagination Technologies’ next step-up in GPU performance would be the company’s Series 8 GPU. Although it has released PowerVR Series8XE GPUs that are intended for cheaper mobile computing devices, it has yet to announce a high-end successor for the GT7600. Here’s the funny part; Linley Group actually places Adreno 530 GPU in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 ahead of the Apple’s latest GPU in overall size, power efficiency, and performance metrics, but hasn’t weighed in on whether or not this is due to the GT7600’s inability to sustain peak performance for long.

The real problem has to do with PowerVR’s architecture, which is falling out of favor with device manufacturers. Apple continues to tweak the GPU so that it has tighter control over both hardware and software, which only benefits the user in terms of better performance and battery life. Apple was reported to be in talks in Imagination Technologies, but no progress have come out of the earlier scheduled meetings.

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We’ll have to wait and see if Apple continues to rely on PowerVR series of chips or move on to something better in the future. What are your thoughts on the latest revelation? Tell us in the comments immediately.

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