Apple Announces iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with A10 SoC

Subject: Mobile | September 7, 2016 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: smartphone, mobile, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 7, iphone, DCI P3, apple, a10

Another Apple announcement is in the books, and with it comes the expected refresh to the iPhone lineup. The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some notable upgrades from the previous models, though it's the lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack that has been getting much of the attention.

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Looking past the omission of the headphone jack for a moment, what exactly is new and noteworthy here? For starters, the iPhone 7 brings a new SoC to the table with the A10, a new design that is Apple's first foray into a "big.LITTLE" type of configuration. Unlike the A9 SoC's processor, a dual-core 1.85 GHz design, the A10 now offers a pair of high-performance cores, and a pair of high-efficiency cores that Apple says require only 1/5 of the larger pair's power. This sort of processor configuration is obviously similar to a number of existing ARM designs, which similarly combine faster and slower cores in an effort to reduce power consumption - though the 1/5 number is significant. It will be enlightening to see what the actual core speeds are - as well as particulars on the GPU, which is "50% faster" than the A9's PowerVR GT7600.

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Other major updates include the cameras, which now features optical image stabilization (OIS) in the regular 7 as well as the 7 Plus (it was a 6/6s Plus-exclusive feature previously). The camera - or rather cameras - on the iPhone 7 Plus provide separate wide-angle and telephoto lenses, and allow for some powerful depth-of-field effects as demoed during the presentation. The displays contain another significant update - but not in resolution. The previous (low) 750x1344 resolution from the 6s remains in the iPhone 7, with the 7 Plus sticking to 1080x1920. The upgrade comes from the backlighting, which now provides 25% greater brightness and much wider color from the DCI P3 color space.

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The lack of a 3.5 mm headphone jack was rumored for months leading up to today's announcement, and of course it will be a controversial topic. The Lightning connector is the only port on the iPhone 7/7 Plus, and Lightning-connected earbuds are included along with a 3.5 mm adapter (which also includes the DAC and headphone amp). The new haptic motor for the new non-mechanical home button is partly to blame for the omission of the headphone jack, but might also have been removed as part of the process to make the iPhone water resistant - a first for Apple.

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Wireless earbuds ("AirPods") were also announced, which look pretty much like the existing "EarPods" with the cord cut off. One final note on sound: the new iPhones have stereo speakers for the first time, with sound claimed to be 50% louder than previous, and now emanating from both ends of the phone.

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The family of iPhones now includes the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, along with existing 6s, 6s Plus, and the iPhone SE. In a surprising move, Apple announced that they would upgrade last year's 6s models to shipping with double the base storage - 32GB vs. 16GB - for the same price.

Pre-orders for the new iPhones begin on September 9th, with pricing beginning at $649 for the 32GB iPhone 7, and $769 for the 32GB iPhone 7 Plus.

Source: Apple

September 7, 2016 | 09:33 PM - Posted by BackwoodsNC

Well Ryan, you can get a new sheeple phone since they timed yours to break right on time. Lolz

September 8, 2016 | 06:01 AM - Posted by Coupe

Apple is iterative, which makes sense since the company rides on this device.

The overlooked but interesting things:
1. wireless apple earbuds for $160. The sound was never good in the earbuds. It is interesting to see what is going on. Since they work with Macs as well, I suspect they use bluetooth with a convenient pairing method implemented by apple. This is contrary to what people are saying that they are not bluetooth.
2. Bad journalism is that Super Mario will be iPhone exclusive. They never said that. They just said it's coming to iphone first. But who would expect less from Verge.
3. I was wrong here. Edited out.

September 7, 2016 | 10:21 PM - Posted by Joe Seijo (not verified)

Once my iPhone 6 dies, I'm done with Apple. Removing the headphone jack is idiotic. There's absolutely no innovation without Steve. RIP Apple.

September 8, 2016 | 12:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So Apple went big little instead of maybe getting the A10's more powerful cores some SMT abilities. SMT would have been better for allowing the CPU’s cores the ability to take advantage of any thread stalls/latency issues by shifting over very quickly the execution to the other 2nd processor thread and keep the CPU's execution resources better utilized. Without SMT ability a CPU's core resources are going to be underutilized with plenty of wasted pipeline bubbles instead of actual work, and Apple's A series processors are of a very wide order superscalar design so there will be even more wasted execution resources, what with the Apple A series custom cores able to decode 6 IPC and send that work to a very wide back end. So Apple went with 4 single threaded cores and no SMT, with each core unable to keep the pipeline bubbles in check. Apple is not making very good use of their P.A. semiconductor CPU engineers the way Apple did with the A7 and Apple’s first completely custom ARMv8A running CPU micro-architecture. Let’s hope that Apple will let those engineers take the next logical step towards SMT and more than one processor thread per core for Apple A11.

September 8, 2016 | 01:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Foxconn, I MEAN IPHONES, are like overpriced toys compared to Samsungs or other competent manufacturers. That CAT phone is sick as well.

And BACKLIGHTING? I thought this stupid phone was getting a Samsung made AMOLED screen? My S6 active has a 2560x1440 Adobe RGB OLED sith near perfect default calibration. Why is Apple still in 2010 with LCD? Theyre bragging about a phone with 1920x1080 and 1344x750?

How far do you have to hold it away for it to be a "retina display"? Bullshit marketing term btw. A 640x480 monitor is a retina display from across the room lol.

Oh and my camera has HDR still and HDR video with optical image stabilization and 32GB of insanely fast UFS storage. And its over a year old, waterproof, dustproof and impact resistant. Lol Apple toy phones.

September 8, 2016 | 12:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Really, until you look at the custom A series CPU cores on the Apple products, and the semi-customized PowerVR GPUs that Apple uses. The A7, and newer, custom CPU micro-architecture is twice as wide order superscalar as any of the Arm Holdings reference core designs. So Apple’s P.A. semiconductor(Apple acquired P.A. Simi) chip engineers taped out the first custom core engineered to run the ARMv8A 32/64 bit ISA, even before Arm Holdings had any of their reference design cores that run the ARMv8A 32/64 bit ISA to market from any of ARM holdings’ other licensees. Say what you will about iOS, iOS is a Toy OS, but that custom All Apple A7 and newer cores are very powerful to this day relative to the other custom ARMv8A running CPU cores on the market.

The only other core that may be more powerful than Apple's A series designs is AMD’s K12 custom ARM core that the Jim Keller led K12 design team was working on at the same time as the Keller’s Zen design team was working on that new x86 micro-architecture. If the Keller led team designed K12 with SMT ability then K12 will be the only custom ARMv8A running ISA able to make better use of its CPU core execution resources, and Intel has used SMT(Hyper-threading) for some time now!

September 9, 2016 | 12:27 AM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

How does it compare to the Exynos 7420 and the new Exynos? They can put SMT in it but the Exynos in my phone uses all 8 cores simultaneously in its big.LITTLE implementation.

And their SoCs are probably quite good. The rest of the phone is Foxconn trash though. A phone is much more than just its SoC.

September 10, 2016 | 12:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How many instructions can the Exynos decode per clock, if Exynos is using the ARM Holdings reference design cores they can only decode 3 IPC! The Exynos uses Cortex-A57+ Cortex-A53 big little cores can only decode 3 IPC while the Apple A series A7/A8-A9 cores are of a custom all Apple(P.A. Semi chip engineers now owned by Apple) design. So the Apple's A series cores of the A7-A9 and beyond are twice as wide order superscalar design than the other ARM cores that make use of mostly Arm Holdings reference design cores, and there is pitiful poor amount of proper journalism concerning any of the custom ARM cores that do not use the Reference Arm holdings OFF of the shelf designs but instead only license the ARMv8A ISA from Arm holdings and build their own custom CPU micro-architectures that are engineered to run that ARMv8A ISA. The last good technical journalistic review of a Custom ARMv8A product was the Anand Lal Shimpi article/s on the Apple custom A7(Cyclone) micro-architecture and the Cyclone has more in common with Intel’s core i series of SKUs, although the Apple A series custom cores lack SMT capabilities. Here is Anand Lal Shimpi’s listing on the A7 Cyclone cores:

CPU Codename----------------Cyclone,
ARM ISA---------------------ARMv8-A(32/64),
Issue Width-----------------6 micro-ops,
Reorder Buffer Size---------192 micro-ops,
Branch Mispredict Penalty---16 cycles (14 – 19),
Integer ALUs----------------4,
Load/Store Units------------2,
Load Latency----------------4 Cycles,
Branch Units----------------2,
Indirect Branch Units-------1,
FP/NEON ALUs----------------3,
L1 Cache-–------------------64KB I$ + 64KB D$,
L2 Cache--------------------1MB,
L3 Cache--------------------4MB,

So an Apple A series core can do the same IPC than 2 of the A57 reference designs cores, and to this date in the consumer market Apple's A series cores are still the widest order superscalar designs for any custom ARMv8A ISA running custom CPU micro-architecture inside of a phone form factor. Nvidia's custom Denver core can do 7+ IPC but can not be used in a phone for factor because of the power/heat generated. It looks like none of the "Technical" press covered Nvidia's new Tegra design that used a maybe(?) an updated Denver design, but that's the technical/enthusiast press for you 99.99% of the time, if it is not sponsored it's not reported on!

The Exynos 8 cores can not be clocked as high if all 8 cores are running compared to Apple's A series cores so the Apple 2 core phone variants are very powerful even if they lack the total core count compared to the Exynos, that Apple A10 2 big 2 little needs to be looked at more closely. But if the Little Apple A series cores are the of the same Core design as the big A series cores, with the little cores only being clocked lower then the A10 will be very powerful. More information needs to leak out on Apple's A10 design to be sure.

Maybe AMD’s K12 will be the only custom ARMv8A ISA running design that has SMT capabilities when AMD decides to talk about K12 more to the public! But in Jim Klller’s YouTube Video interviews he hinted that maybe K12 will share a lot of design elements with the Zen, and the Zen design is the first x86 ISA running design from AMD with SMT capabilities.

September 8, 2016 | 10:43 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

People will buy those overpriced, hardware deficient, with scheduled obsolescence phones just like they buy Nvidia GPUs.

September 8, 2016 | 11:23 AM - Posted by funandjam

new apple phone? meh

September 8, 2016 | 01:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

"A9's PowerVR GT7600"? Apple uses a semi-custom variant with extra shader clusters, and please get some more information about the DSP in the new Apple iPhone SKUs, that and some more info on what core design Apple is using for its "Little" cores, and "Big" A10 cores also. And Please ask Apple why they have not decided to go with an SMT enabled A10 core this time around. I want to see a comparison between Qualcomm's Hexagon DSP, and Apple's new DSP in the new iPhone 7 SKUs. Will the DSP in the iPhone 7 be accessible through the iOS API for developers to make use of like Qualcomm's Hexagon DSP is through an Android/API extension? And What about Imagination Technologies PowerVR Ray Tracing GPU IP, will Apple be using that in their new iPad Pro SKU in the future! An iPad Pro that has A GPU that includes some Ray Tracing functional blocks on the GPU to accelerate Ray interaction calculations would be very popular for graphics/gaming usage.

September 9, 2016 | 12:30 AM - Posted by BlackDove (not verified)

What game engine supports ray tracing?

September 10, 2016 | 12:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Game engines all support software Ray tracing of some form mostly done on the CPU, but also accelerated on the GPU(GPGPU) also via OpenCL, but the PowerVR Wizard IP supports Ray Tracing in the GPU's hardware so that Gaming engine can call on the Driver/API extensions provided by Imagination Technologies to get at PowerVR Wizard's hardware Ray Tracing units.

“OctaneRender 4 prototype achieves 100+ million rays/second on a 2 watt PowerVR Ray Tracing mobile GPU core – a 10x increase in ray-tracing performance/watt compared to GPGPU compute ray tracing in OctaneRender 3” (1)

"OTOY and Imagination unveil breakthrough PowerVR Ray Tracing hardware platform for cinematic real time rendering"

September 9, 2016 | 01:28 AM - Posted by fred sam (not verified)

Mostly the airpods look interesting, face it, headphones especially wireless headphones are a stagnant niche, the mass market push will be good for all as this tech trickles down to the rest of us. Wireless buds, especially ones you can one ear monitor to say...listen to pcper podcast, very sweet. The implementation especially the auto on off ir sensor is well thought out. Most people don't carry around their earpods or headsets because a wad of wire in your pocket is just not convenient.

Just look at history, apple forces technology into mass adoption, ssds alone they helped accelerate the mass adoption through their guaranteed demand on suppliers.

September 9, 2016 | 07:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'm a PC enthusiast and I will still buy an iPhone. Deal with it....

September 9, 2016 | 08:51 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

No... you are the one who will have to deal with it... XD

September 10, 2016 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How do you know the lightning 3.5mm adapter has a DAC and amp in it? I can't find that info anywhere.


September 11, 2016 | 06:45 PM - Posted by Erich (not verified)

I like how they eliminated the most popular storage size (64gb) to force people into the 128gb models.

I fucking hate Apple but I've bought too much shit on the App Store to dump them. But they are really pushing it.

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