Originally Posted by Lemon Bon Bon. http://www.cringely.com/2013/09/19/the-secret-of-ios-7/
On the back of Wizard's speculative posts...re: the A7 (after all, Tim Cook called it a desktop class cpu. It is...equal to my previous iMac's cpu in many ways... How long before the A series chases down an i7?
Don't know but do they really need to chase down i7? Many of the markets Apple serves or could serve don't need i7's CPU performance though GPU performance is required.
I look at the Power Mac in my front room and marvel that an iPhone 4 could run youtube better than it could...pinch me...*)
I'm amazed everyday at what my old iPhone 4 and iPad 3 can do. These are both relatively old devices too. I've installed iOS on both and frankly it looks like they jumped the gun as far as it being ready for the iPad goes, but even so both machines are still fully functional. More so in some aspects they perform better than before iOS7 even if there are a few performance regressions here and there. That says a lot about iOS and Apples approach to performance.
How long before the 'low end mini' is chased down by the A8, A9...
If Apple goes the A7X route it might be this year. All they really would have to do is add two cores, improve the GPU and add 500MHz or so to the clock rate. Considering past behavior that isn't impossible. I'm not sure they will go quad core ARM in A7X, but if they did it would make for a very nice extreme low power desktop replacement. Effectively an AppleTV sized box could pass as a desktop computer and not run much hotter.
There was a time when Portable CPUs in laptops and gpus where miles ahead of the desktops. Now look at things. And the phone performance market is blazing along.
The evidence is pretty clear Intel has been forced by market conditions to embrace very low power devices. Even server rooms are rejecting +150 watt CPUs. It isn't just mobile, the entire industry has had to address the problem of excessive power usage.
The A7 is an astonishing break through. If it doubles in two years, where will it be?
That is a good question. At some point process technology won't shrink fast enough for Apple to do simple performance doubling, they will effectively have caught up with the semiconductor industries process scaling. At that point significant A series gains will only arrive when the new semiconductor processes do.
Since I'm a big iPad user I'm very much interested in what the A7X will look like in the next iPad or if there will even be an X variant. So I speculate a bit on what A7X might look like, does Apple stay dual core ARM to beef up the GPU or do they go quad core ARM? I don't know but you are looking two years ahead and I'm looking at what I hope is not more than two months. When you have a 1 billion plus transistor SoC is it really that easy to offer multiple variants, or can Apple may just bump clock rates to double iPad performance.
Lots of speculation but if Apple moves ahead with their two chip strategy then I have to believe that they have an excellent desktop replacement chip on their hands. That won't be in two years but rather months. No it won't compete with Intels top of the line processors but many products don't need that sort of performance.
(If the Intel cpu performances are merely 10% over the next two years...where will it be? We've had several of years now of very static cpu development in terms of performance.)
There is a limit to just how far you can go improving a CPU. In Intels case it takes considerable effort to get just a little bit of improvement each year as the architecture is mature. In Apples case they effectively with A7 are starting out with a whole new architecture that only support legacy ARM architecture in a 32 bit mode. In the long run I can see Apple dropping backwards compatibility with 32 bit ARM hardware completely. Divesting themselves completely from legacy hardware means they can push into new power and performance frontiers. Contrast this with Intel which has all sorts of legacy support built into every chip they have ever made.
So how long can Apple go on with 2X performance increases every year? I'm guessing about 4 years at which point they will be like Intel trying to squeeze a few percent out of each ALU. At that time the processor will be a pure 64 bit implementation. If Apple becomes real aggressive with developer with respect to supporting 64 bits in their apps you will know this is a long term goal.
As to Cringely he has some interesting ideas, some of which I agree with and that I think Apple is pursuing.
Number one I see Apple delivering the hardware so that some users can leverage their iPhone or tablet as their primary computer. This won't be for everybody and frankly if this is Apples goal the current iPhone 5S is way off mark here. However having a computer in your pocket that docks with the desktop hardware (keyboard, screen and whatever) either wirelessly or via plug in will be a huge win for many workers.
The problem I have here is that iOS isn't really there yet as an OS that will let this happen. The main problem they have is a place to stash common files so that you can work on them with different tools. That and they need a finder type app to help with managing that store. I know this is at odds with their security model but they need to find a solution that will make iOS viable in these sorts of desktop uses. There are other issues too, but I see how the user currently interacts with files and apps as a big problem moving forward.
One approach they should consider is a dual mode OS. One where an iOS device effectively runs a Mac OS GUI when docked. This would provide the user with all the benefits of Mac OS but only when there is a screen available to support that functionality. The one thing that absolutely prevents me from ditching my Mac for an iPad is the complete inability to get to the OS when needed. If they where to address this when docked to a screen and keyboard/mouse so that you have a duality of personalities to work with I might just say good bye to the Mac. The reality is that when mobile iOS rocks, at the desk it is a very frustrating environment. Even if that desktop mode ran iOS apps in separate iOS sized windows it would be a big improvement usability wise. Give us a bit of UNIX access and we are golden.
In a nut shell I think Cringely is right, Apples goal is a computer you carry around in your pocket that is "Your Computer". To accomplish that Apple will need to morph iOS into something different than we have today. That may be personalities that reveal themselves when plugged into a dock or some other solution. Apple is most likely hot on this but it is hard to say when the hardware and software will arrive. I really don't think iPhone 5s has the chops for this and for some odd reason they didn't address the lack of flash issue. All of these scenarios require a lot more secondary store than iPhone 5s ships with.