Apple is gearing up for one of its biggest software shakeups in a decade that will also affect the features of its future processors in the upcoming A18 series. 

The sudden burst of AI-everything in phones by the competition are forcing it to catch up and introduce even more powerful machine learning coprocessor in the Apple A18 chipset. 

On the other hand, if Apple wants to keep its renowned focus on user privacy and security, it will have to do the bulk of processing for basic AI tasks on the iPhone itself, so the A18 chip will have to take that into its new features equation as well. 

So, how will the Apple A18 processor in the iPhone 16 line stack up to the A17?

Apple A18 specs to expect

  • 2 x 3890 MHz performance + 4 efficiency cores
  • 6-core GPU
  • TSMC 3nm N3P production process

Apple A18 vs A17 speed and benchmark performance

  • 5% faster CPU
  • 30% faster graphics
  • 10% reduction in power draw
  • 8571 vs 7288 Geekbench score

The new A18 processors are reportedly in the trial production and testing phase over at the TSMC foundry, and will use its enhanced 3nm N3P process node that offers just 5% faster speeds but consumes less power. 

That’s very typical for a second generation of a production node that typically brings stability and power draw improvements, rather than some grand performance boost. Apple, as usual, will find the balance between power draw and performance, but don’t expect the A18 to be much faster than A17. Instead, Apple will be using A18 to add features instead of clock speeds that are already plenty fast.

A leaked Geekbench performance score of the alleged A18-series of chipsets confirms that tradition, too. While running the most popular processor benchmark suite, the A18 doesn’t show a big performance boost compared to what the Apple A17 is able to muster.

The first benchmark pass in the leak displayed indicated that the A18 processor may be much faster than the current A17 crop, though it isn’t clear if it was done with a reference board or a prototype, and whether there was a difference in clock speeds.

There might have been, because the second suite of A18 benchmarks posted showed a 2822 performance score that is roughly in line with the A17 Pro’s 2958 points. As usual with a processor on a new production node, the A18 multicore score, with all the resulting die-shrink optimizations, beats the A17.

The 6-core GPU of the Apple A18, however, displayed way more significant gains over the A17 chip that is in the iPhone 15 Pro. This means that the iPhone 16 Pro series will shine in the gaming, computational photography, and AI departments that need a powerful graphics subsystem. Compared to the current iPhone 15 Pro GPU, the Apple A18 Pro graphics benchmarks show that it may be more than 30% faster.

Sure, this would bode well for all the gaming chops of the iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max. Above all, however, it may again put it firmly ahead of Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon processor series that has been catching up to Apple in the GPU department lately.

New Apple A18 features to expect

  • Faster graphics
  • On-device AI processing

Besides the faster graphics, Apple will be launching the iPhone 16 series with new A18 chipsets that will reportedly allow for a significant boost in on-device AI calculations and machine learning. 

Unlike last year when the iPhone 15 got an old processor, Apple’s AI push in iOS 18 will force it to equip all four phones in the iPhone 16 series with the respective AI processing powers. 

The A18 Bionic is expected to land in the iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus, while the top-shelf A18 Pro will eventually be powering the flagship iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max handsets.

Apple is reportedly working on its own Larger Language Model of machine learning called Ajax for iOS 18, which will be uses for on-device AI processing. That homebrew solution bodes well for the Apple A18 series AI processing chops, which should be the big new feature when the A18 is released some time in September. 

In short, the A18 may not be faster than A17, but it would be way more capable where it counts nowadays, in the AI processing tasks.

[ For more curated Apple news, check out the main news page here]

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