Apple’s GPU in A10 Fusion chip Not So Different from Its Predecessor, says Linley Group

Apple’s A10 Fusion chip in the iPhone 7 has received acclaim from both users and critics, but it appears that the chip’s graphics architecture may not be so new after all.

According to a breakdown of the Fusion A10 by the Linley Group, the GPU in the iPhone 7 is based on a custom version of the PowerVR GT7600 GPU. This is the same graphics architecture used in the A9 chip powering the last-gen iPhone 6 and 6s Plus.

If Apple is to be believed, the Fusion A10 chip is 2x faster than its predecessor, and the GPU about 50 per cent faster. However, the benchmarks as conducted by the analyst firm show mixed results for the chip’s performance. Some benchmarks are in line with Apple’s claims, and others simply fall way off.

According to Linley Gwennap, founder and principal analyst at Linley Group, the chip is unable to sustain its peak performance for long due to overheating concerns. Gwennap states in a research note that Apple has definitely increased clock speed by 50 per cent to achieve high performance gains, but the big issue is that the chip throttles back from its top GPU speed after a minute or less.

For those who don’t know, the A10 Fusion GPU sports six cores and operates at around 900MHz. To improve its performance, Apple has made tweaks in the PowerVR GT7600 GPU architecture which it licensed from Imagination Technologies, claims Linley Group. Imagination has released PowerVR Series8XE GPUs that are intended for low-cost devices but it has yet to release a high-end successor for the GT7600.

Linley Group placed Apple’s latest GPU behind the Adreno 530 GPU in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 in overall size, power efficiency, and performance metrics. The size of the chip is an important metric because it “controls both cost and power, so Adreno’s efficiency edge should benefit both customers and end users,” Gwennap said.