A17 Pro vs A16 Bionic: Understanding Apple’s Processor Evolution

Apple A17 Pro vs A16 Bionic

A17 Pro vs A16 Bionic: Apple’s decision to incorporate two different chips in the same generation of smartphones has raised eyebrows and questions. If you’re wondering about the differences between the A17 Pro and the A16 Bionic, this article is for you. Let’s dive into a simple comparison to understand the distinctions.

The iPhone 15 will use the A16 Bionic chip, and many are excited about its power and efficiency. But if you’re looking for even more speed, the iPhone 15 Pro will have the advanced A17 Bionic chip. Early reports say that the A17 Bionic will be 20% faster than the A16 Bionic. This means apps will open quicker, you can switch between tasks more smoothly, and the whole phone will work better.

Understanding Apple's Processor Evolution
Understanding Apple’s Processor Evolution

Specifications: A17 Pro vs A16 Bionic

Apple A17 ProApple A16 Bionic
Announced13 September, 202307 September, 2022
ArchitectureA17A16
Cores66
Threads66
Core architecturehybrid (big.LITTLE)hybrid (big.LITTLE)
HyperthreadingNoNo
OverclockingNoNo
A-Core3.70 GHz (2x Everest)3.46 GHz
B-Core2.20 GHz (4x Sawtooth)2.02 GHz
AI hardwareApple Neural EngineApple Neural Engine
AI specifications16 Neural cores @ 35 TOPS16 Neural cores @ 17 TOPS
GPUApple A17 Pro (6 GPU Cores)Apple A16 (5 GPU Cores)
GPU frequency0.70 GHz0.70 GHz
GamingRay tracing
Technology3 nm4 nm
Max. displays33
Compute units192160
Shader15361280
Max. GPU Memory8 GB6 GB
MemoryLPDDR5-6400LPDDR5-6400
Max. Memory8 GB6 GB
Memory channels1 (Single Channel)1 (Single Channel)
Max. Bandwidth51.2 GB/s51.2 GB/s
L2 Cache20.00 MB20.00 MB
L3 Cache24.00 MB24.00 MB
TDP (PL1 / PBP)7.5 W8.5 W
Technology3 nm4 nm
Chip designChipletChiplet
5G ModemYesYes
Operating systemsiOSiOS

Apple A17 uses new 3nm architecture

The Apple A17 Pro is built on a 3nm process node, which is a step ahead of the A16 Bionic’s 4nm architecture. This smaller architecture allows for more transistors on the chip, leading to potentially higher performance. Specifically, the A17 Pro boasts 19 billion transistors compared to the A16’s 16 billion.

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Benefits of the 3nm process include:

  • Power Savings: Up to 30% reduced power consumption compared to 5nm chips.
  • Performance Boost: Up to 15% increased performance for the same power consumption.

This means users of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max can expect longer battery life and less thermal throttling with the A17 Bionic.

The A17 Pro chip is exclusive to the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. In contrast, the A16 Bionic, which was first seen in the iPhone 14 Pro series, is now also powering the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. This means that to experience the top-tier performance of the A17 Pro, one would need to opt for the Pro versions of the iPhone 15.

CPU Performance

  • The A17 Pro boasts a 6-core CPU configuration, an enhancement from the A16 Bionic.
  • It uses a 2 + 4 split between performance and efficiency cores.
  • The A17 Pro can reach up to 3.70 GHz, a leap from the A16 Bionic’s 3.42 GHz.
  • The new chip benefits from TSMC’s 3nm fabrication process, ensuring better performance and energy efficiency.

GPU Performance

  • The A17 Pro has an edge with 6 GPU cores, compared to the A16’s five.
  • Apple claims the A17 Pro’s GPU is 20% faster.
  • The A17 Pro introduces hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a significant upgrade from the A16’s software-based approach.
  • The Neural Engine in the A17 Pro aids in MetalFX Upscaling, enhancing graphics while conserving energy.

Memory Bandwidth

  • The A17 Pro offers more memory bandwidth than the A16 Bionic, promising enhanced graphics performance.
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RAM

  • Both chips utilize LPDDR5 RAM technology.
  • It’s speculated that the A17 Pro might have an increased RAM capacity, potentially up to 8 GB.

Hardware-Accelerated Ray Tracing

  • The A17 Pro supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing, a first for Apple chips.
  • This feature was tested but not finalized for the A16 Bionic due to concerns about overheating and energy efficiency.

Transistors

  • The A17 Pro houses 19 billion transistors, a jump from the A16 Bionic’s 16 billion, resulting in 10% faster performance.

Improved ISP (Image Signal Processor)

  • The A17 Pro introduces the new Photonic Engine and Smart HDR 5, ensuring better photo and video quality.
  • It also supports Mesh shading, 4K Dolby Vision HDR, Apple ProRes, Cinematic Mode, and more.

Connectivity

  • Both chips utilize Qualcomm’s 5G modem, but the A17 Pro upgrades to the Snapdragon X70.
  • The A17 Pro supports faster Wi-Fi 6E and a USB Controller for quicker data transfers.

Neural Engine

  • The A17 Pro’s Neural Engine is twice as fast as the A16 Bionic’s, capable of performing 35 trillion operations per second.

Dedicated Engines

  • The A17 Pro introduces three dedicated engines, including the AV1 decoder for enhanced video streaming quality.

New support for USB 3

  • The A17 Pro introduces support for USB 3, coinciding with the iPhone 15 series’ adoption of the USB-C port. This allows for transfer speeds of up to 10GB/s, which is a massive improvement, being 20 times faster than USB 2. This ensures quicker data transfers between the iPhone 15 Pro and other devices.

Display

The iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro both have beautiful 6.1-inch OLED screens that show bright colors, sharp images, and really dark blacks. This makes everything you watch look amazing. But, the iPhone 15 Pro has a special feature: it refreshes the screen 120 times a second (120Hz), while the iPhone 15 does it 60 times a second (60Hz).

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This means that on the iPhone 15 Pro, things move super smoothly, there’s less blur when things move fast, and it feels quicker when you touch it. This is great news for people who love playing games or want the best screen experience.

Making the Choice

The A16 Bionic remains a powerhouse in the mobile sector, and its performance won’t suddenly become obsolete with the introduction of the A17 Pro.

For those who prioritize top-tier performance and are willing to invest more, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max with the A17 Pro chip might be the way to go. However, if you’re looking for excellent performance without breaking the bank, the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus with the A16 chip should serve you well.

In the end, it’s all about balancing your needs with your budget. Whatever you choose, Apple’s track record suggests you’ll be getting a high-quality, high-performance device.

The A16 Bionic remains a powerhouse in the mobile sector, and its performance won't suddenly become obsolete with the introduction of the A17 Pro.

Pricing: Options for Different Wallet Sizes

Apple is known for its top-notch devices, and the iPhone 15 series follows that trend. The iPhone 15 will likely have a starting price of $999. This is a good deal for people who want a great phone but don’t want to spend too much. The iPhone 15 Pro, with its extra cool features, will start at $1,199. Even though it’s a bit pricier, it’s perfect for those who want the best performance and camera quality.