Apple’s A9 impresses and the Nexus strikes back: The TR Podcast 188

Our discussion last night was wide-ranging. After a rough start due to technical issues, we took on a bunch of your questions while addressing some hot topics in the world of tech. We talked about the new iPhones and the apparent excellence of the Apple A9 SoC, and then we touched on the recent AMD news and what it means for that company. Afterward, we looked at Google's new slate of Nexus devices alongside the funky Pixel C.

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    • TardOnPC
    • 4 years ago

    Love the podcasts but I have to nit pick. I’m not a video guy but can’t the audio for the video podcast be compressed and normalized? Scott’s voice is low in this podcast compared to everyone else, then when he laughs it’s super loud. This is to be expected for the live stream but surely this can be fixed afterwards. The audio only podcast versions, podcast 187, seems to be better in terms of volume and compression.

    • Meadows
    • 4 years ago

    Yes! Luke has his necktie and signature dentist’s ad smile back!

      • sweatshopking
      • 4 years ago

      YAY. i love him.

        • sweatshopking
        • 4 years ago

        i love all of them .

          • chuckula
          • 4 years ago

          WHAT ABOUT ME!?!?!?!

            • Meadows
            • 4 years ago

            YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM.

    • DPete27
    • 4 years ago

    Sound levels are real wacky on the video. Maybe it’s just my setup.

      • Damage
      • 4 years ago

      No, we had impossible problems with Skype and had to use Google Hangouts, which apparently has auto-gain adjustment that you can’t turn off. We were powerless to overcome the problems during the show.

      Next time, we’ll either get Skype going again or use some other solution that doesn’t mess with our levels.

        • Philldoe
        • 4 years ago

        Teamspeak.

    • albundy
    • 4 years ago

    what i find interesting is that samsung is one of the SOC suppliers, yet doesnt use those chips on it’s own phone.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      How would they? Just making the chip doesn’t give them free licence to use them. TSMC can’t turn around and use AMDs chips in whatever it wants without AMD agreeing to a licencing deal. It’s the difference between being the manufacturer and being the designer.

      Samsung uses it’s own home made Exynos in it’s new high end phones anyways.

        • albundy
        • 4 years ago

        it’s their fab, plus they’ve copied other things before and modified them.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          It’s their fab, that Apple paid to use, would you really think there would not be strict agreements in place for this? Samsung copied design elements before, but copying a chip their fabs manufacture would be cut and dry since the agreements were already signed by both.

          Plus, losing a massive customer…And probably many more when everyone else sees they feel ok with stealing their custom chips.

          Just think it through, if it was that trivial GloFo and TSMC would just steal Nvidias and AMDs designs and be rolling in it.

            • blastdoor
            • 4 years ago

            I agree — Samsung could get away with that exactly once, and then they’d never have another foundry customer again.

            • TheRealSintel
            • 4 years ago

            Not even exactly once, they would be sued from here to Tokyo for every possible dime (and more) they would stand to gain.

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    Apples SoC lead in the ARM camp is almost scary. Other chips were only just starting to be in the same ballpark (still not up to 100%) to the per-core performance of the A8, then the A9 dropped. Others need 8 cores all active in a benchmark to match the performance of it’s two. And two are obviously more easy to utilize most of the time.

    I’m not sure if that’s indicative of Apples chip team being amazing (and a huge R&D and talent hiring budget helps), or that other ARM players dropped the ball hard. Probably a bit of both. A57 isn’t that impressive, and most chips are using it because other 64 bit cores were not ready in time. Denver was…But that was the definition of mixed bag, with it’s binary translator choking up on spaghetti code and multitasking. in straightforward tests it did well though.

    Plus it helps Apple that they know they’re selling the SoC with a high margin product wrapped around it, so they can spend some extra die size. What was it, 50% larger than Core M?

    They’re also using NVMe and a modified version of the NAND controller from the Macbook with pretty crazy results. Sequential reads and writes, no other phone is even close.

    [url<]http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph9662/77664.png[/url<] [url<]http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph9662/77665.png[/url<] (samsung still leads the random reads/writes on that test but apparently it's because the test only uses one depth queue, while the custom controller has many). I think a lot of us would like to see what Apples chip team could do when not thermally contstrained, say a small heatsink and fan. The ATV would have been a good opportunity for that, but they only put the A8 in (still curious if that has substantially higher GPU clocks or anything thanks to the heatsink). The X1 in the Shield TV with a heatsink and fan is pretty nutso.

      • terminalrecluse
      • 4 years ago

      the Next full fat ATV will likely be rocking a fully thermally unlocked A9.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        It would make sense if they’re keeping it at a n-1 SoC behind the iPhone kind of thing. If it starts getting yearly updates like that, it would be more powerful than the 7th gen consoles by next year, and start to crawl up on the 8th gen consoles in a few. Probably by that time we’d be thinking about 9th gen consoles, but still.

        Wonder who will have the first 1Tflop SoC GPU – not counting Nvidias half precision bull.

        • blastdoor
        • 4 years ago

        Do we know yet what clock speed the A8 in the new ATV is running at?

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Not that I know of, or CPU clocks either. I’m very curious, would like to know.

      • blastdoor
      • 4 years ago

      It’s kind of ironic that Google is the advocate of delivering content through web browsers, Apple is the advocate of apps, yet the biggest advantage that Apple’s SOCs have over the SOCs in android phones is in web benchmarks, not apps.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        On desktop/chromebooks yeah, but isn’t Google pretty on the app party bandwagon with mobile?

        Web tests give the A9 even more of a lead since they’re dependant so much on the software stack, but the A9 does still have quite a lead in native apps too.

          • blastdoor
          • 4 years ago

          [quote<]On desktop/chromebooks yeah, but isn't Google pretty on the app party bandwagon with mobile? [/quote<] My impression is that it's only out of necessity and that Google's original vision/desire was to have smartphones exist primarily as mobile web browsers. Heck, that was even Apple's original vision (allegedly), and I suspect that was partly due to the influence of Eric Schmidt (back when Apple and Google were best buddies). Everything was supposed to be "web apps". But then somewhere on the way to reality, people realized that native apps are a necessity on a device with such brutally binding power constraints.

        • _ppi
        • 4 years ago

        Looking at
        1) all the unidentified space on Apple SoC
        2) Their very very good browser benchmarks (especially SunSpider)
        I have to wonder whether they do not have some HW acceleration for certain browsing tasks and JavaScript, that would be available only Apple/Safari

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          Software “optimizations” for those tests would make more sense as they’re ever changing, and more cost effective. But the A9s lead is maintained in native benchmarks as well, so even ignoring the browser benchmarks it’s still impressive.

      • brucethemoose
      • 4 years ago

      Qualcomm kinda dropped the ball after Krait, and most other companies can’t afford the R&D needed for a custom ARM core.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Sammy can afford it, they’re just late to the party with Kyro. I think they were caught with their pants down a bit for the 64 bit party.

          • blastdoor
          • 4 years ago

          Yeah, I’d think Samsung can definitely afford it. Plus they have the “synergy” of owning the fab.

          I wonder how successful Samsung is in recruiting top engineering talent outside of Korea. Does anybody have a sense of that? My casual impression is that Samsung might not be the most appealing place to work, but I have very low confidence in that impression — I’d love to hear from someone with first hand (or even second hand) knowledge of what it’s like to work for Samsung in, for example, their Austin facility.

      • _ppi
      • 4 years ago

      Seems they are using short-time overclocking Core-M style. Or else they would not be able to match/get so close to 15W SP3.

      The browsing benchmarks make me think whether they do not have some HW acceleration of some of the tasks (there are huge unidentified die areas in all Apple chips devoted to who-knows-what).

      On the other hand, I would not be too focused on single core performance on Android: [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/9518/the-mobile-cpu-corecount-debate[/url<] Die size is also interesting: Apple A9 SoC: 96-104mm2 Core i7-6700: 122mm2 - sure, larger, but in the same league

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        If you read the whole article it shows Android itself is good at using 8 cores, but apps themselves are not. Particularly games, which need the performance most.

        The Ars 6S review showed they’re not doing anything like Turbo Boost, it stays at its rated clock for a very long time. The prior models you could say that for though.

        [url<]http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/charts.021-980x720.png[/url<]

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    dupe

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