A10 Fusion: The silicon powering Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus

The A10 Fusion doesn't offer as big a jump in performance as last year's A9, but it's still an impressive piece of silicon.

While most people focus on what's on the outside of the new iPhone, it's the stuff on the inside that really counts.

Powering Apple's new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones is a new chip called the A10 Fusion. Why Apple added the word Fusion to the name is unknown, and beyond the obvious -- marketing to put on a slide at the launch event -- I can only assume Apple wants to distance itself from a weapon of war. Or maybe it has something to do with AMD's A10 chips. Don't know.

See also: Apple publishes durability warning for new glossy Jet Black iPhone 7 finish

The A10 Fusion is Apple's first quad-core mobile SoC (System-on-Chip), and it consists of two high-performance cores for demanding applications, and two energy-efficient cores for regular usage.

Which cores are used is controlled by an Apple-designed performance controller.

The low power cores operate at a fifth of the power of the high-performance cores. This is similar technology to ARM's big.LITTLE technology, which isn't surprising given that Apple licenses ARM technology for its chips.

The chip contains 3.3 billion transistors. Compare this to Intel's original P5 core Pentium released in March of 1993, which contained 3.1 million transistors.

According to Apple, the A10 Fusion has 40 percent more CPU performance and 50 percent more graphics performance compared to the A9 chip found in the iPhone 6s. Sounds impressive, but the numbers suggest that how much power Apple can squeeze out of its silicon is slowing down given that the A9 chip was a whopping 70 percent faster than its predecessor.

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