Geekbench Scores for iPad Pro Show A12X Bionic's Power

Sep 14, 2018
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Andrew Freedman, you're incompetent for using Geekbench as a benchmark. That's the worst benchmark you can use. Talk to a real semiconducting journalist and perhaps they can teach you how to benchmark chips.
 

jimmysmitty

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If these numbers are correct then it is still not impressive. It is an 8 core CPU that's matching a 4 core 8 thread CPU or slightly beating it in a synthetic benchmark. That means that on a per core level the Intel chip is 2x more efficient than the A12X.

Now when Apple can meet Intel or AMD on a per core level it will be impressive. But I doubt they will do it in the small TDP window they are trying to be in since it has to be more energy efficient than performance biased.
 

Wes006

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Even the average Joe (Apple A12X) can lift more weight than a body builder (Intel Core i7) using a fishing pole (Geekbench).

I would love to see a comparison using x86-64 optimized bench mark software against the A12X to counteract the blatant bias here.
 

ET3D

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The ARM configuration is 4 powerful cores and 4 weak cores, for power saving. It's not even clear if a benchmark like Geekbench is using all core, but even if it does, that about equivalent to 4 real cores + 4 hyperthreaded cores. So the comparison is quite apt, in that it's quite possible that IPC is the same for a powerful core in the A12X and an Intel core.
 

jimmysmitty

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Those 4 weak cores are vastly more powerful than Hyperthreading. HT adds at best 20% performance when it is programmed to take advantage. Those 4 cores are full cores just not as powerfull. The original idea behind the big.LITTLE design was the 4 big cores were the new "top of the line" ARM cores while the old ones were the older ones.

For example the Snapdragon 810 had a 2GHz Cortex A57 and a 1.5GHz Cortex A53. However the newer designs are just lower clocked versions of the same CPU, the Snapdragon 845 for example is 4 Kryo 385s at 2.8GHz and 4 at 1.8GHz.

So no it is not an apt comparison. The i7 is a 4 core CPU with SMT that basically allows multiple threads to be pushed through the same 4 cores. The A12X is a 8 core CPU with 4 high performance and 4 lower performance. And we don't know how Geekbench tests this but I would not be surprised if it does use all 8 cores in testing. Either way I doubt this CPU could replace any full fledged x86-64 CPU in raw performance.
 
Aug 1, 2018
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Of course this will just throttle down as portable devices don't have adequate cooling for big jobs but I wonder what these chips could do in a regular laptop setup with a decent cooler. Maybe Core i3 or even i5 levels of performance? I had discounted the possibility of Apple moving Macs to the Ax series chips/APUs but these numbers show that at the low and maybe even mid end, they could do it.

With the elephant-sized exception of recompiling *everything* for a new arch. Sure, Apple can do it but what about all those third party devs?
 


If you compare this A12X to any chip Intel or AMD could reasonably place in a tablet(heat / power) which is what the A12X is going into, aka the new iPad pro. I do believe Apple are getting higher per core performance than AMD or Intel in that power envelope. Apple is rumored to be working on a desktop class CPU so we will likely have to wait and see to compare them to the high performance chips but nonetheless this is somewhat impressive we are seeing this kind of CPU power in a lower power tablet.
 

jimmysmitty

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I would compare it to that. Apple isn't though. Apple is comparing it to the i7 U series. Apple is comparing it to the XBox One X. They are putting themselves in this position to be dissected.

I have no doubt that the CPU is the most powerful ARM CPU out right now. However when they state its more powerful than a i7 U series they have to be looked at in every aspect especially when they use a synthetic benchmark for it and are using it on an OS optimized specifically for that chip. Lets take iOS out of the equation and synthetics out. Lets take an OS that's not specifically designed for either and run real world tests on it and see.

However we can't do that as Apple likes to keep everything closed so all we can do is use their setups specifically designed for their hardware. I really don't care if they decide to replace everything again and make people go through the hassle of changing all their software again and leave anything non Apple CPU based in the dust. I don't feel bad for people who decide to buy an Apple product knowing that soon they may not get any new OS updates. Let them waste their money. I just have an issue with Apple making proclamations for a product that has no use outside of their ecosystem.
 

AlistairAB

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Stop spreading misinformation. You know the small cores are completely different than the large cores. You know Apple is comparing with the Xbox One S, not X. You know for the same amount of power draw, the A12X equals Intel easily. You're just digging in for no reason.
 

jimmysmitty

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I literally stated that the big.LITTLE was originally two new cores with two older style cores designed with performance/power in mind.

Still doesn't change the fact that they are full cores and not anything similar to HT.

I misspoke on the Xbox version. Still they are comparing themselves to a dedicated gaming system not me.

For power draw, possibly. For actual real performance that is not based on a synthetic benchmark with too many variables that cannot be equalized? No. Until you can give me just the CPU in an OS that's not catered to that CPU or the Intel/AMD, that doesn't use a synthetic benchmark showing real world performance matching then no they only match it when its on their OS using their design for their ecosystem. It has not relevance in the laptop or desktop market.

Right now they are comparing a mobile OS to a desktop OS. The overhead difference alone can easily account for the performance.

Tell you what. Get with Apple and have them allow someone to develop a Linux OS for both x86-64 and the A12X and then have them compile some real world tests and lets see if it really matches that CPU or if it changes once their control over it is no longer there. I bet it wouldn't look nearly as good as it does right now.
 

bit_user

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Instead of being insulting and rude, why not suggest something better?

Geekbench has one attractive property: that of enabling comparisons between different CPUs and operating systems.

Also, it sure sounds like he's merely reporting on the presence of these scores - not that he actually has a review sample he can test as he likes.
 

bit_user

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When Apple's chip has a TDP probably in the single-digits and that i7-8559U is 20 - 28 W, it's very impressive.

And that Intel has to use 2 threads/core shouldn't be overlooked, but neither should the fact that 4 of the A12X's cores are lower performance, power-optimized "Tempest" cores. Sure, it's not quite the same as comparing two chips with the same core & thread count. For that, it'd be interesting to see the benchmark results for each chip run with just 4 threads. This would also let the Apple SoC use just its 4 high-performance Vortex cores.
 

bit_user

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Wow, have you looked at any CPU benchmarks, this decade? Do you see only ~20% difference between i5's and i7's, or between Ryzen 3 and Ryzen 5 models (after accounting for clock speed)?

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-kaby-lake-core-i7-7700k-i7-7700-i5-7600k-i5-7600,4870-4.html
https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-ryzen-3-2200g-raven-ridge-cpu,5472-7.html

Of course, the amount of benefit from HT depends on the workload, but it's routinely much better than 20%.
 

bit_user

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CPU emulators with JIT compilation are probably better than you think. Plus, how much 3rd party software do people really use on their Macs, these days? Perhaps web browsers, office/productivity, and some media editing. Probably not a whole lot more...

Apple has changed the uArch of its Macs twice, already. They should have a pretty good idea how to do it successfully, by now. IIRC, the switch to x86 happened in just a couple years, and they now have quite a bit more money to throw at the project.
 

bit_user

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Here's the thing. Apple clearly did something very impressive, that's heads-and-shoulders above any of their competitors. Yes, their claim is quite a bold one, and no, most of us probably don't expect it really to be across-the-board faster than the quad-core i7. But, again, the Intel chip has a TDP probably 2-3 times that of the A12X.


Part of the problem is that you're trying to tear it down, with virtually no information to support your position. If you want to add something constructive to the discourse, how about going through the Geekbench scores and picking out ones that are compute-bound (i.e. minimally affected by OS overhead)? I think the whole OS argument is just a red herring - their devices share the same kernel as their desktops and need to be equally secure - but I'm willing to accept it makes some difference.
 

jimmysmitty

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I would have no problem with that. I only have two requests.

1. Same OS for both to eliminate any optimization variables or OS overhead variables, again Windows adds more overhead than IOS by far.

2. Do it with non synthetic benchmarks.



Its not routinely much better than 20%. In most games its not much better at all and in some programs it can bet better than 20%. How about I say its more average 20%? Would that be a better term? Because SMT is not powerful enough to beat out a real core.

BTW the Kaby Lake review you posted is not easy to use. Not only does the i7 have a clock speed advantage (3.8GHz base vs 4.2GHz base, the same as the i5s turbo speed) it also has a cache advantage (8MB vs 6MB, 33% more) on top of the SMT.

https://www.anandtech.com/show/11544/intel-skylake-ep-vs-amd-epyc-7000-cpu-battle-of-the-decade/15
https://www.gamersnexus.net/game-bench/3227-ffxv-hyperthreading-smt-on-vs-off-benchmarks-cpu

Some benchmarks do show that it can hit up to 30%. Some show little to no gains. Still doesn't replace 4 full cores, low power or not.



It can make quite a difference. I doubt iOS has the same overhead as Windows does. Thats what I was getting at. I would rather see them in a neutral OS (same) with neutral tests being done rather than different OSes, especially one thats optimized for that hardware specifically.

In the end it doesn't matter. Apple can do as they wish. Its their product. I just don't think we will ever see ARM replacing anything but ultra mobile devices. At least not until the software support catches up.
 

bit_user

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Well, if they switch Mac to this platform, you'll get #1 and people will undoubtedly run plenty of #2.


To argue that one CPU is not faster because it doesn't speed up a certain non-CPU bound game relative to another is absurd on the face of it. I feel embarrassed for you, over that one.

When we're debating CPU performance and the merits of uArch features, you need to focus on CPU-bound tasks. And though I initially resisted, you've successfully trolled me into whipping out my spread sheets and computing the per-clock speed up on the CPUs I mentioned. Kaby Lake and Ryzen, because they're both 4c/4t vs 4c/8t comparisons.

First, Kaby Lake (i7 7700K vs i5 7600K):

  • ■ Blender: 46.5% faster per clock
    ■ Cinebench: 29.1% faster per clock
As you say, the i7's L3 cache is 33% larger. There's no way to intuitively say how much that benefits the i7 - it will vary on a case-by-case basis, potentially not even helping at all.

Now, the Ryzen 2000G series presents a better opportunity, both since they have the same L3 cache size and because the review included many more compute-bound benchies. So, comparing Ryzen 3 2200G with Ryzen 5 2400G, the clock-speed normalized improvements are:

  • ■ Cinebench: 38.4%
    ■ Blender: 36.6%
    ■ LuxMark (CPU/C++): 35.3%
    ■ LuxMark (CPU/OpenCL): 46.9%
    ■ POV-Ray: 38.6%
    ■ 7-Zip decompress: 65.3%
    ■ 7-Zip compress: 23.5%
Finally, there's my own experience of compiling C/C++ code on 4c/8t and 8c/16t machines, where I typically see about a 60% benefit from HT.

So, going back to the question of how HT compares with low-power cores, let's see how the Tempest (little) cores stack up with the Vortex (big) cores.

  • ■ Clock speed: 1.6 vs. 2.5 Ghz
    ■ Instruction issue: 3 vs. 13
    ■ ALU pipelines: 2 vs. 6
Source: https://www.anandtech.com/show/13392/the-iphone-xs-xs-max-review-unveiling-the-silicon-secrets

So, it's really not hard to view their contributions in a similar vein as HT. And while reading through that article for those specs, I came across this juicy morsel:
Monsoon (A11) and Vortex (A12) are extremely wide machines – with 6 integer execution pipelines among which two are complex units, two load/store units, two branch ports, and three FP/vector pipelines this gives an estimated 13 execution ports, far wider than Arm’s upcoming Cortex A76 and also wider than Samsung’s M3. In fact, assuming we're not looking at an atypical shared port situation, Apple’s microarchitecture seems to far surpass anything else in terms of width, including desktop CPUs.
By all accounts, what Apple has done is simply amazing. Many have predicted ARM eventually overtaking x86, but we now finally find ourselves standing at the edge, peering over the precipice.
 

bit_user

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Upon further reading, Anandtech's detailed benchmarking and analysis included a power measurement for the 6-core A12 SoC: 3.64W / 4.27W for int / fp.

https://www.anandtech.com/show/13392/the-iphone-xs-xs-max-review-unveiling-the-silicon-secrets/4

At the bottom, they make these statements about the A12 (not the A12X we're discussing here):
Overall the new A12 Vortex cores and the architectural improvements on the SoC’s memory subsystem give Apple’s new piece of silicon a much higher performance advantage than Apple’s marketing materials promote. The contrast to the best Android SoCs have to offer is extremely stark – both in terms of performance as well as in power efficiency. Apple’s SoCs have better energy efficiency than all recent Android SoCs while having a nearly 2x performance advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised that if we were to normalise for energy used, Apple would have a 3x performance lead.

...

What is quite astonishing, is just how close Apple’s A11 and A12 are to current desktop CPUs. I haven’t had the opportunity to run things in a more comparable manner, but taking our server editor, Johan De Gelas’ recent figures from earlier this summer, we see that the A12 outperforms a moderately-clocked Skylake CPU in single-threaded performance. Of course there’s compiler considerations and various frequency concerns to take into account, but still we’re now talking about very small margins until Apple’s mobile SoCs outperform the fastest desktop CPUs in terms of ST performance. It will be interesting to get more accurate figures on this topic later on in the coming months.
Imagine that! Apple actually undersold the capabilities of the A12! Perhaps they are trying to fly under the radar, hoping Intel doesn't notice what they're up to.

He also did a performance analysis of the low power, Tempest core. The overall performance, relative to the big Vortex cores, is 27% / 22% for int / float, respectively. So, a little faster than the 21% that I had predicted, but still well within the range of HT.

https://www.anandtech.com/show/13392/the-iphone-xs-xs-max-review-unveiling-the-silicon-secrets/5
 

alextheblue

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Even 3DMark would probably be more useful. But we likely won't see a truly good array of benchmarks until one of these is running MacOS.

Hmm, I wonder if we'll see Qualcomm/Samsung ARM Hackintoshes? :p
 

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