Only 10 percent more computing power: Apple’s promises about the powerful CPU cores of the iPhone 15 processor A17 Pro made waves among fans and investors on September 12th. Apple shares fell by 6.5 percent, Intel’s shares rose by the same amount. The A17 Pro is the world’s first high-volume chip with TSMC’s N3 manufacturing technology, and the small advantage compared to the A16 Bionic with N4 technology – which is closely related to N5 – was disappointing. Conversely, this is a positive sign for Intel’s race to catch up in chip manufacturing technology. You can read more about the new iPhones with USB-C sockets here.
At Intel, the Meteor Lake mobile processors are in the starting blocks, the CPU tile of which Intel produces using Intel 4 technology. According to experts, the latter is likely to be between the TSMC generations N5 and N3 in many aspects. However, there are some indications that the Meteor Lakes are the first Intel 4 chips to not easily achieve such high turbo clock frequencies as their predecessors. This is probably why Intel is foregoing desktop PC versions and is bridging the year until the next CPU generation Arrow Lake with the refreshed Raptor Lakes aka Core i-14000, which are expected at the end of October. However, the performance increase should be quite moderate. Significantly faster desktop processors can only be expected with Arrow Lake-S from Intel’s second-to-next manufacturing technology 20A. These chips could launch in fall 2024 on Series 800 motherboards with the new LGA1851 version.
Group photo from Brussels with prime ministers of those regions that have joined forces to form the European Semiconductor Regions Alliance (ESRA).
(Image: Saxon State Chancellery/Philippe Veldeman)
With the Meteor Lakes, Intel is changing the naming scheme and the lowercase “i” is no longer included. Results from the Geekbench 6.1.0 benchmark have already appeared for a “Core Ultra 7 155H” with 16 cores and 22 threads. It therefore delivers very decent performance on a par with the AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS (8 cores/16 threads). We explain on page 32 how Intel “flows together” the interesting CPU core combination 6P + 8E + 2E of the Core Ultra 7.
We are currently preparing a comparison test of notebooks with the Ryzen 7040U processors announced by AMD in May, of which only a few are available in Germany. AMD is causing confusion. A variant of the Ryzen 7040 called “Phoenix2” suddenly appeared in China, in which AMD (as speculated in Bit-Noise in c’t 9/2023) combines two Zen 4 with four slimmer Zen 4c cores. Supposedly this chip could come as a Ryzen 5 7540U – although there is also another Ryzen 5 7540U with six of the same Zen 4 cores.
In addition, AMD is following in Intel’s footsteps and promoting CPU functions that are not actually usable in all copies of a series. Until now, AMD had emphasized more uniform equipment. But the AI accelerator “Ryzen AI”, which comes from the acquired company Xilinx, not only has a confusing number of names such as XDNA or IPU, but is also far from being active in every notebook or mini PC with a Ryzen 7040HS or Ryzen 7040U. This is unlikely to promote the spread of AI software adapted to this.
The relatively small increase in performance of the Apple A17 Pro is not only pleasing to Intel, but also to Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek. Upcoming smartphone SoCs with the ARM Cortex-X4 processor core could come closer to the still leading single-threading performance of Apple chips. In order to overtake, the ARM competitors would have to increase their clock frequency enormously, because ARM itself only promises about a 15 percent increase in performance for the Cortex-X4 compared to the Cortex-X3, which is used as the “Prime Core” in the current Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 calculates. However, the latter lags behind the strong cores of the Apple A16 by around 25 percent and is probably more than 30 percent behind the A17 Pro. MediaTek promises that smartphones with its Dimensity chip with Cortex-X4 from TSMC’s 3-nanometer production will come in autumn 2024.
Under the leadership of Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer, the Alliance of European Semiconductor Regions, ESRA for short for European Semiconductor Regions Alliance, was founded in Brussels on September 7th. 27 regions from eleven EU states as well as Wales from Brexit UK are taking part. Allianz wants to take advantage of the attractive funding from the European Chips Act and thus attract investors. But they also want to promote the training of skilled workers and network with each other so that the EU actually manages to increase semiconductor production several times by 2030, as planned.
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