Last week, Apple became the first company in the world to offer a mobile SoC made with the most advanced technology currently available—TSMC’s 3nm manufacturing node. The tech world has been eagerly anticipating this node from TSMC for several years, so hopes were high at Apple’s launch that it would deliver stunning performance and efficiency. However, Apple poured some cold water on those hopes at the keynote by stating its CPU is just 10% faster than its predecessor. Although that number is lower than expected, the first Geekbench results are in for the A17 Pro, and it shows it is indeed quite powerful, at least in single-core performance.
A pre-release Geekbench 6 score has appeared in the benchmark’s online database, and it shows the A17 Pro cranking out a score of 2,914 in single-core performance. Tom’s Hardware notes that that’s within 10% of the Intel Core i9-13900K and the AMD Ryzen 9 7950X, which score 3,223 and 3,172, respectively. That’s impressive, considering the difference in core counts and clock speeds between the three chips. Intel’s CPU has 24 cores (8P+16E), and AMD’s chip has 16 Zen 4 cores. The A17 Pro has just six: two performance and four efficiency cores.
It appears Apple has bumped up the memory allocation from 6GB on the iPhone 14 Pro to 8GB on the 15 Pro.
Also, Apple’s SoC tops out at 3.77GHz, with the CPUs from both Intel and AMD running at 5.8GHz and 5.7GHz. There’s also a power consumption disparity here, with both desktop chips running at 125 and 170W, while we can guess Apple’s chip is sipping around 10W. The A16 Bionic was rated at 8W, so we’re just spitballing here. Apple has increased the clock speeds of the A17 Pro compared with its 3.46GHz predecessor, so it seems like the increase in performance comes from clock speeds alone, though it’s possible architectural changes are also under the hood.
Apple was not embellishing when it said it had increased CPU performance by 10%. We also owe the company an apology, as we scoffed at its remarks during the keynote about how the A17 Pro could go toe-to-toe with the fastest desktop PCs. It turns out that is indeed true, at least in single-core performance. In multi-core tests, however, the little A17 Pro can’t hold a candle to the 32-thread chips from AMD and Intel, which isn’t a surprise.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max phones with the A17 Pro will land on peoples’ doorsteps later this week, so we’re expecting an avalanche of new benchmarks shortly. To nobody’s surprise, it will likely earn the title of the world’s fastest mobile chip, as it has roughly a year’s head start on the entire industry in 3nm adoption. Its biggest rival, the upcoming Snapdragon 8 Gen 3, is expected to use TSMC’s N4P manufacturing node, which Apple used on last year’s iPhone 14 Pro.