Anand Shimpi of AnandTech has concluded that Apple’s latest A7 processor can indeed be categorized as “desktop class.”
According to Shimpi (via AppleInsider), the A7 is packed with the same number of execution ports as Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips and equipped with a reorder buffer equal to that found in Haswell architecture.
“Apple didn’t build a Krait/Silvermont competitor, it built something much closer to Intel’s big cores,” Shimpi reported. “At the launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple referred to the A7 as being ‘desktop class’ - it turns out that wasn’t an exaggeration.”
As AppleInsider notes, the number of execution ports is particularly important, as it defines how many instructions the processor can handle concurrently.
“Apple’s A7 can process six instructions per clock cycle, the same as Intel’s Ivy Bridge chips found in previous-generation Apple laptops and twice the capacity of the A6,” AppleInsider explained.
“Similarly, a larger reorder buffer gives the processor a bigger pool of instructions to choose from when deciding how to most efficiently complete its tasks. The A7’s 192-instruction buffer matches Intel’s Haswell designs and is more than four times the A6’s 45-instruction buffer.”
Shimpi says he believes the A7 was designed to be forward-looking, with room to increase performance as Apple shift to smaller, more agile fabrication processes.
However, it is possible that Apple could instead choose to release yet another new architecture design with the A8 - rather than optimizing the A7’s “Cyclone” core.