It’s been nearly a year since the introduction of Apple’s A6 SoC, so the recent rumors surrounding the launch of the iPhone 5S and its A7 chip next month is making the whole internet begin to froth at the mouth. Not only are we supposedly going to see a substantial CPU speed boost over the A6 processor, but sources indicate that Apple is finally making the switch to a 64-bit CPU in its mobile devices. While it likely won’t make much of a difference right off the bat, this does set the stage for faster apps and more memory down the road.
Fox’s Clayton Morris recently claimed that we’ll see a 31% increase in speed over the iPhone 5′s A6, but that alone is nothing to write home about. Apple’s next chip will obviously be faster, but what else can it do? 9to5Mac is reporting that while the A7 won’t make the jump to a quad-core CPU, it will feature a 64-bit processor. That, in and of itself, is something to get excited about.
64-bit processors, now the standard on desktops and laptops, do have speed advantages. Applications specifically written to take advantage of 64-bit CPUs can see a nice increase in performance. For example, when Handbrake released a 64-bit version, users saw a speed boost of 10-15%. More importantly, 64-bit CPUs are capable of addressing more than 4GB of RAM. In the coming years, smartphones and tablets will undoubtedly need more than 4GB of RAM, so it’s smart for Apple to start making the transition now when most devices still only ship with 1 or 2GB of RAM. By the time iPhones start shipping with 6 or 8GB of RAM, at least some apps will be optimized to take advantage of the additional memory.
While the iPhone 5S will likely stick with a dual-core CPU, there’s no telling what Apple might do with the A7X for the iPad line. When the first Retina iPad was announced, Apple flaunted its quad-core GPU built into the A5X SoC — designed to help drive the huge 2048×1536 display. If Apple wants the 9.7-inch iPads to remain at the top of the tablet market, this year might be the perfect time to include a quad-core CPU in the A7X as well. Since the full-sized iPad has such a gargantuan space for its battery, the increased power draw of quad-core chips could certainly be easier to compensate for. With any luck, Apple’s top-notch engineers will have something truly compelling to show us next month.
Apple has been relatively low-key in 2013, so expectations are running very high for the upcoming annual iPhone announcement. We’re hearing new information about the iPhone 5S and 5C every day, and speculation is running rampant. After a year of lackluster stock performance, September’s event is clearly Apple’s best opportunity to turn the tides in its favor.