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Apple's 64-bit A7 SoC 'set off panic' for chipmakers

post #1 of 131
Thread Starter 
Apple caught market-leading chipmakers off guard when it debuted the 64-bit A7 system-on-chip alongside the iPhone 5s in September, a move one Qualcomm insider says put the industry in panic mode.

a7-performance-20131009.jpg
Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller introduces the A7 system-on-chip.


In a report from Dan Lyons' blog HubSpot, an unnamed source at chipmaking giant Qualcomm said Apple's A7 "hit us in the gut," referring to the silicon's support for 64-bit processing.

"Not just us, but everyone, really," the person said of the surprise Apple's chip caused. "We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared. It's not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won't benefit. But in Spinal Tap terms it's like, 32 more, and now everyone wants it."

Apple's A7 SoC holds the distinction of being the first 64-bit application processor to be used in a smartphone. Up until the iPhone 5s was unveiled, companies didn't see the need to include such an advanced processor in a handheld mobile device as apps were not able to take advantage of the extra horsepower. Even now, only a few programs outside of Apple's own stable are capable of addressing the technology.
"The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple's, since no one thought it was that essential" - unnamed Qualcomm insider.
"The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple's, since no one thought it was that essential," the source said. "The evolution was going to be steady. Sure, it's neat, it's the future, but it's not really essential for conditions now."

Apple managed to keep the A7 a secret until the iPhone's unveiling in September, quite an achievement considering the abundance of parts leaks leading up to the event.

At the time of the A7's release, Qualcomm's former chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher pooh-poohed the prospect of a 64-bit smartphone chip, saying of Apple, "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."

Less than a week later, Qualcomm clarified its stance on the issue and called Chandrasekher's comments "inaccurate." The ex-CMO was ultimately removed from his post and reassigned.

With the mass-produced 64-bit A7 AP in the wild, powering the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, the insider views Apple as being at least one year ahead of the competition, maybe more. Despite having the tech on a roadmap, chipmakers can't turn on a dime and moving their prospective timelines forward on such short notice will be challenging.

For example, Samsung, the foundries of which Apple uses to manufacture the A7, announced in November that it will be offering its own 64-bit Exynos chips sometime in the future. The Korean giant was mum on tentative release date, however.

"Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this," the Qualcomm employee said. "It's being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry."
post #2 of 131
Yeah baby! Who's yo daddy now?! 1wink.gif
post #3 of 131
The "set off panic" article title was circumspect, given the availability of the "in the balls" reference they could have used in the title...
post #4 of 131
When I read this story earlier and MacRumors it made me smile as I remembered all the analysts and tech bloggers claiming that Apple could not innovate. Many downplayed the 64-bit microprocessor achievement that Apple had made. Nearly 3 months later the real news starts to trickle out about Apple's competitors panicking over the release of the 64-bit a seven chip. Everyone was caught by surprise. Now everyone wants one. Everyone is going 64-bit. I am glad Apple got there first! I am looking forward to reading the glowing reports of Apple's competitors' 64-bit processors when they come out in 2014 and 15. I have no doubt the analysts and bloggers will say Apple is falling behind and Apple cannot innovate.
post #5 of 131
Once Apple has Xcode running on Ax64 iOS, you'll really see the industry freak out. An iPad pro with the ability to connect multiple large screen displays is going to give a lot of people heartburn for sure.

Originally, you could only program a Mac using the Lisa.

Then you needed the 68040 to create software for MacOS PPC.

Later, PowerPC was required to write code for Intel OSX.

Today, you need an Intel Mac to program the iPad.

Tomorrow, you probably won't even use Xcode on a Mac.
Edited by vaporland - 12/16/13 at 11:00pm
post #6 of 131
post #7 of 131
I predict more "downplaying" to come from the "but but but Android's already 64-bit" and the "but but but you don't need 64-bit" crowds. This thread is just getting started.

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post #8 of 131
128 bits coming lol
post #9 of 131
Can someone please explain how it was a big surprise when your number one competition is the person that is manufacturing it for you.

Samsung had to have known if they are the one's building it.

Maybe Samsung helped to keep it quiet so Qualcomm loses footing to Samsungs upcoming chip.
post #10 of 131

But but but I remember a qualcomm head honcho recently saying that 64 bit chips in mobiles are just a marketing gimmick by Apple...!!

post #11 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathanworld View Post

Can someone please explain how it was a big surprise when your number one competition is the person that is manufacturing it for you.

Samsung had to have known if they are the one's building it.

Maybe Samsung helped to keep it quiet so Qualcomm loses footing to Samsungs upcoming chip.

 

I would say that after the revelations in the 2010 court case of possible leaks between various divisions of Samsung, that behind the scenes Apple came down hard on Samsung and tightened security significantly.

 

There were probably very few people outside Apple who knew what the chips were capable of.

 

This was while Apple was publicly looking for new chip foundries to supply them with chips.

 

Samsung aren't stupid, Apple is a major customer, they would bend over backwards to keep them.

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post #12 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


At the time of the A7's release, Qualcomm's former chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher pooh-poohed the prospect of a 64-bit smartphone chip, saying of Apple, "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."

Less than a week later, Qualcomm clarified its stance on the issue and called Chandrasekher's comments "inaccurate." The ex-CMO was ultimately removed from his post and reassigned.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j4zb4 View Post
 

But but but I remember a qualcomm head honcho recently saying that 64 bit chips in mobiles are just a marketing gimmick by Apple...!!

 

I wonder where Chandrasekher was "reassigned" to?

 

It sounds ominous, maybe he now monitors toilet roll supplies in the restrooms.

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post #13 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathanworld View Post

Can someone please explain how it was a big surprise when your number one competition is the person that is manufacturing it for you.

Samsung had to have known if they are the one's building it.

Maybe Samsung helped to keep it quiet so Qualcomm loses footing to Samsungs upcoming chip.

In a previous response a few months ago someone stated something like, "Apple was testing 64-bit manufacturing with Samsung then out of the blue told Samsung to mass produce the 64 bit chip."

The unexpected switch by Apple took Samsung by surprise. Amazingly Samsung did not leak the chip. Even if Samsung had three months maybe six months notice of what Apple was doing with the 64-bit chip, it could not change its direction fast enough to come out with its own 64-bit chip this year.

There will not be a 64-bit Android OS until Google has a 64-bit chip to support it. Samsung can have a 64-bit in early 2014 but there will be no 64-bit Android OS to support it. I am uncertain Tizen is 64-bit or even ready for prime time.

Yes, Apple has a 1+ years lead in the 64-bit arena.
post #14 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


At the time of the A7's release, Qualcomm's former chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher pooh-poohed the prospect of a 64-bit smartphone chip, saying of Apple, "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."

Less than a week later, Qualcomm clarified its stance on the issue and called Chandrasekher's comments "inaccurate." The ex-CMO was ultimately removed from his post and reassigned.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by j4zb4 View Post
 

But but but I remember a qualcomm head honcho recently saying that 64 bit chips in mobiles are just a marketing gimmick by Apple...!!

 

I wonder where Chandrasekher was "reassigned" to?

 

It sounds ominous, maybe he now monitors toilet roll supplies in the restrooms.

 

Maybe also making sure the pots are shining... ;)

post #15 of 131

Crisis of Design II follows...:D

post #16 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by appleisshit View Post

Gullible dumbfks!

As if a bunch out-of-touch, overweight, middle aged white guys could invent anything.

These days are long gone, USians!

While Google uses standards essential patents (as well as Cayman Island bank accounts) against both Apple and Microsoft, it was Apple (a US company with white guys and gals and people of all colors) beat everyone else to the ArmV8 implementation and delivery.
post #17 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by appleisshit View Post
 

 

iSheep will continue to buy iCrap...

Crapple will continue to avoid taxes...

Crapple will continue to "compete" via lawsuits...

Umh...Apple's paid all its taxes it is required to pay. Nice try though.....

post #18 of 131
Wuahaha. Apple produces still cutting edge stuff.
post #19 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by MagMan1979 View Post

Yeah baby! Who's yo daddy now?! 1wink.gif

It isn't you.

post #20 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by appleisshit View Post

iSheep will continue to buy iCrap...
Crapple will continue to avoid taxes...
Crapple will continue to "compete" via lawsuits...
Fandroids will continue to spout nonsensical bulls#!t
Samsung will continue it throw s#!t at the really
Samsung will continue to rely on Apple for their ideas
post #21 of 131
""Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this," the Qualcomm employee said."

Haha, I love it!
post #22 of 131
Definitely, the big news with the iPhone 5s was Apple begin first to have a product with a 64-bit ARM in it
- especially when you consider how long nVidia has been working on their Project Denver
- a really impressive achievement

What pisses me off though, is how Apple haven't got a 5" screen iPhone yet...
- personally, I am loath to upgrade my aging iPhone 3GS to a 5s with the 4" screen
- my aging eyes really need a bigger screen...

Anyway, that's a different argument, but, yes, I agree that the announcement of the 64-bit ARM was the big news for me at the iPhone 5s launch
- almost makes we want to get the 5s!
post #23 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 

 

I would say that after the revelations in the 2010 court case of possible leaks between various divisions of Samsung, that behind the scenes Apple came down hard on Samsung and tightened security significantly.

 

There were probably very few people outside Apple who knew what the chips were capable of.

 

This was while Apple was publicly looking for new chip foundries to supply them with chips.

 

Samsung aren't stupid, Apple is a major customer, they would bend over backwards to keep them.

 

Why would a highly-centralized company who couldn't care less about its largest customer's patents, all of sudden, find itself so worried about separation between different divisions?  (note the key word "highly-centralized").  

 

why do you want to believe so badly that Apple's move was a surprise or that Apple did something that was technically impossible, difficult or innovative?

 

No. you are absolutely right, Samsung isn't stupid -- of course, they knew Apple was working on the 64bit A7.  Duh!

post #24 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

...and u will still be missing from the gullible dumbfcks I suppose.
I already flagged him. Stop responding to his garbage.
post #25 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by appleisshit View Post
 

 

iSheep will continue to buy iCrap...

Crapple will continue to avoid taxes...

Crapple will continue to "compete" via lawsuits...


If you wanted a hug you could have just asked.

post #26 of 131

I suppose this is sort of a reply to the "iSheep buy iCrap" comment, but it's a meaningful summary of the apple experience.


We bought the $99 airport express last night.  Our old-timer Linksys WRT54G (missing a letter in there I think), has just about had it.

 

The little airport express is in a tiny box of course, with a great little cardboard thing providing a little "Voila!" experience (remember W. Mossberg saying that Steve showed him early-release products sometimes and even when it was just-him there was a little cloth over the product, so Steve could "Voila" him?).

 

The little thing is like JEWELRY.  It's like a physical app-icon you can hold in your hand.  It's glossy plastic around the rim (with peel plastic to 'reveal' it as-such).  The top is matte, with an apple logo.  The bottom is slightly beige, with another logo, "swollen out" a smidge (circular), so it sits "up" a bit when you set it down.

 

The power cord is great.  Perfectly coiled in the box.  Quality materials in your hand.  For the Cord!  The plug is tiny.  No big-ass power brick like some crap from HP.

 

It's impossibly small for what it does (wireless printing, audio-out).  And of course it just works, is easy to set up, provides better signal, etc etc.

 

It's COMPLETELY SOLID.  It's like the little thing was poured like the plastic in the iPhone 5C commercials.

 

It's "just" a little router,  yet fully and completely encapsulates the Apple experience.

 

My buddy with me in the Apple store said, "$100!?!?!" in protest.


We say here that people don't "get" the Apple experience, but deep down everyone does.  We all have our high end temptations, and we all have our low-cost-temptations.


I buy Apple products due to the high end experience, but can't resist cheap wine ("hey this is $8!").

 

Where the REAL problem lies is people's failure to see the Apple is the best of both worlds.  High end AND a good value.

 

I don't have any illusions about my $8 wine, but people have reverse-illusions about Apple.

 

So be it.

post #27 of 131
"Can someone please explain how it was a big surprise when your number one competition is the person that is manufacturing it for you."


Without knowing exactly the complicated relationship between Apple, Samsung and ARM there's no way to be sure, BUT if we assume they knew why then act so surprised?! Why not even push it hard to beat Apple to the launch (as they tried with the watch thing)? Why all this charade ?
post #28 of 131
Let's not forget supporting 64-bit is still a work in progress for Apple as iOS 7 still has memory management issues with the 64-bit platform.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7460/apple-ipad-air-review/9

Transitioning to 64-bit architecture is more than just designing a new CPU.
post #29 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post

In a previous response a few months ago someone stated something like, "Apple was testing 64-bit manufacturing with Samsung then out of the blue told Samsung to mass produce the 64 bit chip.

That would have been me. I'm sure Apple has more than a few designs going at any given time that it asks Samsung to build in sample quantities. I'm sure Samsung knew about the A7 being 64bit but they were caught off guard by the fact Apple planned to use it so soon.

All Samsung would know about is the processor itself. They had no access to iOS 7 and didn't realize Apple completely re-wrote it for 64bit. That would have tipped Apple's plans to actually release the A7.

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post #30 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

That would have been me. I'm sure Apple has more than a few designs going at any given time that it asks Samsung to build in sample quantities. I'm sure Samsung knew about the A7 being 64bit but they were caught off guard by the fact Apple planned to use it so soon.

All Samsung would know about is the processor itself. They had no access to iOS 7 and didn't realize Apple completely re-wrote it for 64bit. That would have tipped Apple's plans to actually release the A7.

When you ask a company to fan a chip do they know what the chip does? I'd think it would be Apple's engineers that do most of the setup and testing with Samsung just making and stamping the wafers to Apple's specifications.

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post #31 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai1999 View Post

Definitely, the big news with the iPhone 5s was Apple begin first to have a product with a 64-bit ARM in it
- especially when you consider how long nVidia has been working on their Project Denver
- a really impressive achievement

What pisses me off though, is how Apple haven't got a 5" screen iPhone yet...
- personally, I am loath to upgrade my aging iPhone 3GS to a 5s with the 4" screen
- my aging eyes really need a bigger screen...

Anyway, that's a different argument, but, yes, I agree that the announcement of the 64-bit ARM was the big news for me at the iPhone 5s launch
- almost makes we want to get the 5s!

 

Have you ever seen the 5 inch Dell Streak phablet? There is a limit for how big a mobile phone could be before losing it's mobility usefulness, I'll be embarrassed to use one of those overgrown size phone in public, I don't want to show off my phone in public, I wanted it has discreet as possible.

post #32 of 131

Quote:

Originally Posted by rgwychu View Post

Let's not forget supporting 64-bit is still a work in progress for Apple as iOS 7 still has memory management issues with the 64-bit platform.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7460/apple-ipad-air-review/9

Transitioning to 64-bit architecture is more than just designing a new CPU.

 

True transitioning to a 64bit architecture is more than merely designing a new CPU, you need to recompiled all software for tapping every benefits a new platform has to offer,  just like Apple already done it with iOS and OSX way before.  Beside, which memory management issues are you talking about?  Like saying Android still got battery draining issues, Apple and iOS is not liable for badly coded third party apps.

 


Edited by BigMac2 - 12/17/13 at 7:23am
post #33 of 131
Ah, so the talking points are now that the A7 is not "true 64-bit." Clever. Apple never wins.

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post #34 of 131

"Although things seem to have improved with iOS 7.0.3, the 64-bit builds of the OS still seem to run into stability issues more frequently than their 32-bit counterparts. I still see low memory errors associated with any crashes. It could just be that the move to 64-bit applications (and associated memory pressure) is putting more stress on iOS’ memory management routines, which in turn exposes some weaknesses. The iPad Air crashed a couple of times on me (3 times total during the past week), but no where near as much as earlier devices running iOS 7.0.1."

 

If you bothered to read the link I provided, you would know what I'm talking about. Above is the quote from the link I posted. Many others on Apple's forum and I have similar issues with iOS 7. If it is an issue caused by third party app, then I would have this same issue with iOS 6 installed on my old iPad, which is not the case. Unfortunately, my new iPad Air crashes at least every other day.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post
 

Quote:

 

True transitioning to a 64bit architecture is more than merely designing a new CPU, you need to recompiled all software for tapping every benefits a new platform has to offer,  just like Apple already done it with iOS and OSX way before.  Beside, which memory management issues are you talking about?  Like saying Android still got battery draining issues, Apple and iOS is not liable for badly coded third party apps.

 


Edited by rgwychu - 12/17/13 at 7:53am
post #35 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


That would have been me. I'm sure Apple has more than a few designs going at any given time that it asks Samsung to build in sample quantities. I'm sure Samsung knew about the A7 being 64bit but they were caught off guard by the fact Apple planned to use it so soon.

All Samsung would know about is the processor itself. They had no access to iOS 7 and didn't realize Apple completely re-wrote it for 64bit. That would have tipped Apple's plans to actually release the A7.


I disagree a bit with the notion Samsung did not know. I mean, "Build me 1000 samples of this" is way different than, "Build me 10,000,000" of these...

post #36 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by rgwychu View Post

 

If you bothered to read the link I provided, you would know what I'm talking about. Above is the quote from the link I posted. Many others on Apple's forum and I have similar issues with iOS 7. If it is an issue caused by third party app, then I would have this same issue with iOS 6 installed on my old iPad, which is not the case. Unfortunately, my new iPad Air crashes at least every other day.

 

This is a pretty unspecific issue more related to iOS 7 than the new A7, I've been using iOS since the iPhone 3G, I've always seen some apps crashing, most of those apps got updated or disappear after time, I have now a iPhone 5S and a iPad Air, I can't say there is a really issue here, I still got some apps crashing some times, but most of the time it affect older pre-iOS 7 third party apps that needed to be updated.   I haven't found any instability yet using built-in apps. 


Edited by BigMac2 - 12/17/13 at 8:02am
post #37 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


When you ask a company to fan a chip do they know what the chip does? I'd think it would be Apple's engineers that do most of the setup and testing with Samsung just making and stamping the wafers to Apple's specifications.

 

Yup. People hanging on to the idea that since Samsung Semi fabbed Apple's SoCs, it was really Samsung who "built" the chip, and therefore can easily ramp up a 64-bit SoC on their own are pretty desperate for it to be true. It's like saying since Foxconn manufactures the iPhone, Foxconn will be able to ship their own iPhone in 6 months. The business relationships and the manufacturing process just don't work that way.

 

To make a poor analogy, it's like saying the workers of the local KFC franchise can make great fried chicken (go with me here) because they make KFC fried chicken all day. They obviously can't as they "supposedly" know nothing about KFC's secret recipe and all they are doing is following a simplistic cooking recipe with KFC provided ingredients from the KFC trucks. And by ingredients, I mean "chicken", "seasoning", not 5 TSP of salt, 3 TSP of pepper, etc.

 

These SoCs have 1+ billion transistors. My bet is Samsung isn't seeing any detailed circuit designs whatsoever. Apple is giving them the masks to fab the chips. Maybe there is some corporate espionage going where Samsung "borrows" a finished wafer and puts it under the microscrope to see what's going on. That's rather tough going when you have 1 billion transistors and multiple wiring layers to look at. They wouldn't be able to replicate the Cyclone or Swift CPU designs at all.

 

The Cyclone and Swift CPU designs are entirely Apple's and neither ARM Holdings nor Samsung have any real knowledge of them.

post #38 of 131
A whole lot of celebrating over spec-whoring. Presently, it's nothing more. As a non-fan of either side, I find it funny that the two biggest mobile OS rivals are switching roles in some ways.

iOS has become less stable and their fans are all of the sudden concerned about specs (quad core processors don't mean shit, right?), even when there isn't a significant real world performance boost.

Truthfully, the majority of iPhone owners do not have a clue that their new phone has a 64 bit chip, nor do they care. The move by Apple was forward thinking. It is the path both camps will follow.
post #39 of 131

More C level Execs at companies have lose there Jobs over what Apple is doing

 

Here is another

 

Quote:
Less than a week later, Qualcomm clarified its stance on the issue and called Chandrasekher's comments "inaccurate." The ex-CMO was ultimately removed from his post and reassigned.

 

Motorola CTO was fire after she came out and said there was nothing innovating or unique Apple as was doing when they introduced the iphone, she now works for Cisco.

post #40 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by st88 View Post
 

Meanwhile, Intel's x86-64 Bay Trail (22nm Silvermont + Ivy Bridge GPU) is already on the market. In 2014 Intel is planning their tick-tock with Cherry Trail (14nm Airmont + Broadwell GPU) and Willow Trail (14nm Goldmont + Skylake GPU).  Intel will also be launching a successor to their current LTE chip with LTE-Advanced in 2014.

 

Ok.... What is you point?  No intel CPU can reach smartphone TDP levels offer by ARM SoC

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