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Apple A17 Pro and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 Compared

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Apple has entered the ever-changing world of mobile technology once more, this time with its A17 Pro CPU, which was launched alongside the iPhone 15 Pro series. The A17 Pro deviates significantly from the “Bionic” moniker, aligning itself more naturally with the Pro series mentality. What exactly does this powerful chip bring to the table, and how does it compare to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor? In this comprehensive examination, we will dig into the details of each CPU, investigating their CPU, GPU, AI capabilities, ISP, and more.

Apple’s A17 Pro chip, with its focus on GPU performance and improvements in the Neural Engine, represents a substantial advancement in mobile performance.

Key Points

  • Apple increased the transistor count in the A17 Pro from 16 billion to 19 billion, a significant jump compared to the previous chip.
  • The CPU configuration remains unchanged from the A16 Bionic, with two high-performance and four efficiency cores. Apple claims a 10% performance boost in the new performance cores.
  • Apple’s emphasis was on the GPU, with a single additional core and a claimed 20% increase in GPU performance compared to the A16 Bionic.
  • The A17 Pro features an entirely new shader architecture, enabling hardware ray tracing, which was demonstrated at 32fps, a significant improvement over software-based ray tracing at 8fps.
  • Apple introduced upscaling to allow the phone to run games at higher resolutions while conserving power.
  • The Neural Engine saw a substantial improvement, increasing from 16 trillion operations per second to 35 trillion, with applications in on-device machine learning, voice functionality, photo processing, and autocorrect.
  • The A17 Pro is seen as a significant advancement, although the full impact may be realized with future M3 chips utilizing TSMC’s 3nm process. Apple seems to be focusing on enhancing GPU performance for mobile gaming experiences.

A17 Pro vs Snapdragon 8 Gen 2: Specifications

Before we get into the details, let’s lay the groundwork by looking at the specs of these two mobile powerhouses.

CPU

Apple A17 Pro:

The A17 Pro has a six-core CPU design, which was accomplished using TSMC’s cutting-edge 3nm technology. It boasts an astounding 10% performance gain over its predecessor, the Everest cores, with two high-performance cores clocked at a blistering 3.70 GHz. In addition, four power-efficient CPU cores contribute to the chip’s outstanding efficiency, notably the A510 core, which offers three times the performance per watt of the competitors. Apple’s work with TSMC’s newest 3nm production node has clearly paid off, firmly establishing the A17 Pro as a serious CPU competitor.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 2:

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is built on TSMC’s 4nm node (N4 process) and includes an octa-core CPU architecture. It has a 1+(2+2)+3 CPU cluster structure, with a single 3.2GHz Cortex-X3 core, two 2.8GHz Cortex-A715 cores, two 2.8GHz Cortex-A710 cores, and three 2.0GHz Cortex-A510 cores. Notably, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2’s main core tops out at 3.2GHz, falling short of the A17 Pro’s 3.70GHz frequency. This disparity favours the A17 Pro in single-threaded workloads, making it a tough rival. Even leaked information regarding the future Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 processor, which features a (1+3+2+2) CPU architecture with a prime Cortex-X4 core clocked at 3.39GHz, falls short of the A17 Pro’s capabilities.

GPU

Apple A17 Pro:

Shifting our attention to the GPU, Apple has begun on an ambitious path to recapture Qualcomm’s GPU kingdom. The A17 Pro is equipped with a new Pro-class 6-core GPU built on shader architecture, which promises unrivalled performance and economy. This GPU aspires for supremacy with a 20% performance boost over its predecessor. Notably, it adds hardware-accelerated Ray tracing capability, allowing visuals to be rendered 4x quicker than on the A16 Bionic. Furthermore, the A17 Pro employs MetalFX Upscaling, which harnesses the combined capabilities of the GPU and Neural Engine to offer high-quality visuals while consuming minimum power. This upgrade promises an immersive gaming experience, with titles such as Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4, Death Stranding, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage set to shine on the iPhone 15 Pro series.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 2:

Qualcomm’s Adreno 740 GPU surpassed Apple’s 5-core GPU in both performance and efficiency last year. Apple has reacted this year with a 6-core GPU architecture on the A17 Pro, hoping to reclaim the championship. The large 20% year-over-year gain in GPU performance is a big step forward. Apple also provides hardware-accelerated Ray tracing, paving the way for an exciting gaming experience on the iPhone 15 Pro series. While the Adreno 740 GPU on the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has shown impressive capabilities, Apple’s new 6-core GPU on the A17 Pro places Apple as a forerunner in the GPU competition.

ISP and Others

Beyond the CPU and GPU, we explore the Image Signal Processor (ISP), AI capabilities, 5G modems, and wireless networking.

ISP

iPhone A17 Pro:

The A17 Pro demonstrates Apple’s concentration on photography, as its Photonic engine drives numerous camera functions like as Night mode and portraits. The inclusion of Spatial video recording, which is set to be released early on the iPhone 15 Pro series, promises to create immersive memories with exceptional depth, all while being optimised by Apple Vision Pro. Furthermore, the A17 Pro can take 48MP ProRAW photos and 4K60 ProRes films, demonstrating the capabilities of its strong ISP.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 2:

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 has an 18-bit triple ISP architecture that supports capabilities like 8K HDR films and images up to 200MP. While the specifications sheet for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 implies outstanding image processing capabilities, real-world performance frequently shows a different tale. The video quality and photographic abilities of iPhones have routinely outperformed those of leading Android handsets, making it difficult to assess the ISP’s actual capabilities merely on specifications.

AI and machine learning

iPhone A17 Pro:

In terms of AI and machine learning, the A17 Pro outperforms its predecessor, the A16 Bionic, with a 16-core Neural Engine that gives double the performance. The A17 Pro marks a massive advance in AI capabilities, capable of doing 35 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Apple’s remarkable improvement in this arena is apparent, with performance more than tripling in only a year.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 2:

Qualcomm has a strong track record of AI innovation, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 improving on the efficiency of its AI engine. With 27 TOPS, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 already performed brilliantly, and while Qualcomm continues to make progress, it meets a stiff competitor in the A17 Pro’s Neural Engine.

5G Modem and Connectivity: A17 Pro versus Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

Modem 5G

iPhone A17 Pro:

While Apple did not go into detail on 5G connectivity at the event, the A17 Pro does include a distinct 5G modem from Qualcomm, most likely the Snapdragon X70 5G modem. This modem can reach speeds of up to 10Gbps and operates in both the mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands. Furthermore, the A17 Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3, offering a wide range of connectivity possibilities.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Generation 2:

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 also has the Snapdragon X70 5G modem, which is outfitted with the most recent radio advances. It has Bluetooth 5.3, LE, and Wi-Fi 7 for local connectivity. Furthermore, both flagship CPUs, the A17 Pro and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, now support NavIC, India’s navigation satellite system.

To summarise

In many respects, comparing the Apple A17 Pro with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 demonstrates Apple’s unwavering pursuit of greatness. The A17 Pro, built on TSMC’s 3nm technology, has powerful CPU, GPU, and AI capabilities. The increased GPU performance, along with hardware-accelerated Ray tracing, promises an outstanding gaming experience. Furthermore, Apple’s dedication to photography is evident in its ISP advancements, and the A17 Pro’s AI and machine learning capabilities are nothing short of extraordinary. The addition of a standalone 5G modem and extensive networking options strengthens its position as a mobile processing powerhouse.

While the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is only a year old, it serves as a standard against which Apple’s A17 Pro is assessed. Qualcomm has unquestionably made advances in mobile technology, and the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is a formidable contender. The A17 Pro’s outstanding specifications and real-world performance, on the other hand, demonstrate Apple’s ambition to lead the field.

The scene has now been set for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 to see if it can overcome the gap and threaten Apple’s dominance. Only time will tell who will emerge as the genuine winner in this never-ending war of invention.

Apple A17 Pro Vs the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2

SpecificationApple A17 ProSnapdragon 8 Gen 2
CPUSix-core CPU, 19 billion transistorsOcta-core, Kryo CPU
CPU Cores2x High-performance cores, 4x High-efficiency cores1x 3.2GHz (Cortex-X3), 2x 2.8GHz (Cortex-A715), 2x 2.8GHz (Cortex-A710), 3x 2.0GHz (Cortex-A510)
Process TechnologyTSMC’s 3nm processTSMC’s 4nm process
GPUApple Pro-class 6-core GPU with Hardware-accelerated Ray TracingAdreno 740 GPU with Hardware-accelerated Ray Tracing
Memory SupportLPDDR5LPDDR5X
Machine Learning and AI16-core Neural Engine; 35 TOPSNew AI Engine, Hexagon Processor
ISPApple-designed Image Signal ProcessorTriple 18-Bit Spectra ISP; Cognitive ISP, Snapdragon Sight
Camera CapabilityProRAW photos at 48MP, Photonic EngineCapture photos up to 200MP, 36MP triple shots with ZSL
Video Capability4K60 ProRes videos, Spatial video recording, 4K HDR Dolby Vision @ 60FPS, Cinematic 4K@24FPS, Action mode8K HDR, Bokeh Engine 2
ModemSnapdragon X70 5G modem, Up to 10 Gbps Peak Download, Up to 3.5 Gbps Peak UploadSnapdragon X70 5G modem, Up to 10 Gbps Peak Download, Up to 3.5 Gbps Peak Upload
WiFi SupportWi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 7
BluetoothBluetooth 5.3, LE Audio, Dual Bluetooth Antenna, aptX LosslessBluetoothBluetooth 5.3
Other FeaturesAV1 Decoder, ProRes codec, Pro display engine, NavIC SupportAV1 Codec Support, NavIC Support
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Editor.Tech.Exist
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