A16 Bionic: Is Apple running out of steam?

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With the release of the new iphones, Apple has also made official the A16 chip which, although surpassing the competition, has not impressed that much.

An architecture that stagnates?

A few days ago, Apple announced the new iphones 14 Pro with the A16 bionic chip keeping a similar layout to the A15 but engraved with 4 nm from TSMC. It has, as in the previous version, 6 cores, with 2 performance cores and 4 efficient cores.

Contrary to its habits, the Apple brand has opened up very little about the performance of its new cores. For the purpose of the presentation, we only had a single graphic that is not very detailed and especially that takes as a reference the A13, a SoC dating from more than three years ago.

apple A16

How to explain this “discretion” when Apple is not really used to keep a low profile on these subjects? Is the architecture really an evolution or only the frequencies have actually increased? The first scores on Geekbench give us a first insight of the answer.

Level or ceiling in the evolution of Apple SoCs?

Reaching 1879 points in single-core on Geekbench 5, the A16 gets a score 6% higher than the A15 with a frequency increased by about 7%. This observation does not apply only to the latest chip of Apple, indeed since the A14 the brand is almost only increasing the frequencies to be able to offer better performance and can no longer offer real jumps as we saw on the A13 or the previous SoC.

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This is an interesting observation, while for many, the ARM ISA is considered as the architecture that will replace the x86 because more scalable. Apple, which is undoubtedly the leader of the ARM architecture, would begin to show signs of weakness on its ability to offer a better IPC at each generation. Are we facing a plateau, a ceiling or are the brain leaks of the last few years penalizing Apple SoCs?