Comparing Apple Inc.'s A10 With Qualcomm Inc.'s New Snapdragon 835 Chip

By Ashraf Eassa Markets Fool.com

Website Fudzilla recently noticed that performance results of the recently announced Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) Snapdragon 835 mobile processor -- the company's latest chip aimed at premium smartphones -- leaked online.

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Image source: Apple.

The site says that the Snapdragon 835 has "left Apple's(NASDAQ: AAPL)much quoted peak score of 172,644 for its A10 chipset for dead," with a score of 181,434.

I took the opportunity to run the performance test used to compare the two chips -- called AnTuTu -- on my iPhone 7 Plus. And the findings seem to paint the complete opposite picture to what Fudzilla says. The total score my iPhone 7 Plus achieved was 189,105 -- a bit ahead of the supposed results of the new Qualcomm chip.

AnTuTu is a test that's made up of many sub-tests, including 3D graphics, CPU, and "user experience." Let's take a closer look at how the A10 chip inside of the iPhone 7 Plus stacks up against these Snapdragon 835 scores -- if they are, indeed, legitimate.

Apple's CPUs crush Qualcomm's

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The A10 contains two sets of custom-designed processors. The "high-performance" cores are called Hurricane while the "high efficiency" cores, which handle less processor intensive tasks, are known as Zephyr.

The Snapdragon 835 uses a similar processor configuration, except it has performance and efficiency clusters, each with four processor cores each. AnandTech says that the cores are "semi-custom" cores based on ARM's Cortex A-series designs tailored specifically for Qualcomm's needs.

According to the leak that Fudzilla references, the Snapdragon 835 scores 10230 in the CPU Mathematics sub-test, 11924 in the CPU Common Use sub-test, and 15705 in the CPU Multi-Core sub-test.

The A10 in my iPhone 7 Plus achieves scores of 19825, 18570, and 14287 in each of these sub-tests, respectively. This means that per-core, Apple's cores are much faster than Qualcomm's, though there are half as many, and in multi-core applications -- ones that can use Apple's two high-performance cores and Qualcomm's four high-performance cores -- Apple's A10 slightly trails the Snapdragon 835.

Snapdragon's graphics lead

The AnTuTu test also includes two 3D graphics sub-tests -- 3D Garden and 3D Marooned. The leak shows that the Snapdragon 835 scores 29499 and 45330 points in these two sub-tests, respectively. The A10, on the other hand, achieves 29353 and 30206 in these sub-tests, respectively.

This suggests that the Snapdragon 835 has a superior graphics sub-system -- not a surprise, as Qualcomm has traditionally been very strong in graphics compared to the co0mpetition.

Apple's leads elsewhere

Finally, in the RAM, which seemingly tests the performance of the memory subsystem of the chip, the Snapdragon 835 apparently gets a score of 10532, while the A10 achieves a score of 12805.

Summing up the "user experience" subtests, the A10 achieves 64059 points; the Snapdragon 835 leak shows a combined score here of 52865.

A10 remains a leadership SoC until the A11 comes along

Although the Snapdragon 835 is more powerful than the Apple A10 in graphics performance, and although it integrates a gigabit LTE modem -- the A10 doesn't include any LTE modem -- the A10 more than holds its own in CPU performance, memory performance, and "user experience" performance as measured by AnTuTu.

This means that buyers of the iPhone 7/7 Plus shouldn't worry about their devices becoming "outdated" from a performance perspective these will still be best-in-class devices that can hold their own against the many Android-based flagship devices powered by the Snapdragon 835 that are likely to launch in the spring.

And when Apple releases the iPhone 7s/8-series smartphones in the fall, I expect Apple's devices to regain decisive performance leadership in graphics while extending Apple's leadership in CPU performance.

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Ashraf Eassa owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Qualcomm. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.