Less than a month from now, Apple is expected to officially unveil its new A9 chip. This will be the ninth A-Series processor including the original A4, which powered the first iPad, iPhone 4, fourth-generation iPod touch, and second-generation Apple TV. It’s hard to overstate the importance of the A-series chips to Apple’s devices, as they’ve helped the company to achieve everything from major processing leaps to impressive power efficiency and — often taken for granted — guaranteed UI smoothness for every year’s newly-launched devices.
With the iPhone 6S just around the corner, we’ve started to receive tips purporting to reveal how much better the A9 will perform than the A8 processors found in the latest iPhones, iPad Air 2, and iPod touch. While we wouldn’t characterize the numbers we’ve seen as reliable, they led us to look back at the history of A-series chips, and consider what can reasonably be expected from the A9. Read on for our thoughts…
How Each Year’s A-Series Chips Have Progressed
Most of the time, Apple introduces two new A-series chips in a year — for instance, the A5 for iPhones and the A5X for iPads, which were followed by the A6 for iPhones and the A6X for iPads. Every year’s chips improve on the prior versions, with slightly different priorities for the iPad and iPhone. The iPhone version is designed to be more energy-efficient and at least a little less powerful, while the iPad version generally runs faster and has more power, offset somewhat by the need to drive a higher-resolution screen.
The A6 offered huge performance jumps over the A5X, and the 64-bit A7 did the same relative to the 32-bit A6X. By contrast, the A8 respectably outperformed the faster iPad version of the A7, though there wasn’t an A7X to compare against.