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Macworld: Intel says it's not supplying chip for Apple iPhone

post #1 of 26
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Intel Corp. on Wednesday denied a a claim that it would be the supplier of the primary chip inside Apple's just-announced iPhone, but confirmed that it is supplying chips for the Apple TV set-top media box.

"We are not providing the silicon inside the iPhone," Intel spokesman Bill Kirkus told Reuters. "We are providing the silicon inside the Apple TV."

Intel was responding to an earlier Reuters report that quoted an Apple spokesman in Germany as saying Intel would supply the central processing unit (CPU) for the iPhone.

Representatives for the world's largest chip maker offered no additional comment.
post #2 of 26
So.... AMD, PowerPC, or did Apple port the whole OS to a third platform?

AMD seems unlikely without AMD making a deal about it, unless it's some unreleased AMD chip that they want kept quiet a few more months.

Porting to whole new architecture sounds unlikely--why bother, if PPC and Intel platforms exist already?

And PowerPC sounds unlikely too... but possible. G3?
post #3 of 26
According to this, it may be Portal Player:

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2006/11...ne_design_win/


I'm guessing that until this phone is officially released, Apple will not be divulging any information regarding it's internals so not to aid the it's competitors.
post #4 of 26
freescale?
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by the cool gut View Post

According to this, it may be Portal Player:

I was thinking that it would be great to see a PPC in this thing, but seeing Portal Player get another shot at the limelight like that would be awesome. Now if it were a Portal Player OS running on a PPC, that would be just about insanely cool enough to overcome the whole Cingular thing.
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post #6 of 26
Well, we know the OS is OS X.

I'd really like to know what chip is in there!
post #7 of 26
I'm assuming it's an Intel xScale chip, now courtesy of Marvell, like every other smartphone out there.

I daresay Apple has some experience with ARM chips, after all the newton ran on an ARM610. And it's RISC too.


That is, of course, unless Portal Player has an ARM-chip to go with the iPhone.
post #8 of 26
maybe it is using an Xscale which I believe intel sold a few years back..?
post #9 of 26
Transmeta is known for making very energy-efficient processors. They also happen to be x86 processors. So I think that would be a good option too.
post #10 of 26
I'd say it has to be something x86 or PPC compatible. I would be very surprised if Apple would port OS X to yet another new processor just for this.

Of course, the iPhone isn't running all of OS X. There's no Finder, no desktop, etc. Depending on how much they stripped away, maybe the remains are portable enough to target a new chip, but it still sounds unlikely to me.

One possibility is a non-Intel x86 chip. I've noticed that VIA is making a line of low power processors that may be very attractive for a PDA/phone type device. Their C7-M ULV processor only consumes 3.5W at 1GHz.
post #11 of 26
http://www.informationweek.com/news/...on=All+Stories

FBR Research also noted that Samsung appears to have won the combined video and applications processor socket in the latest video iPod, codenamed M45, which will launch in the third quarter. It replaces Nvidia in that role.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zandros View Post

That is, of course, unless Portal Player has an ARM-chip to go with the iPhone.

That would be a definite "yes", considering all of the PortalPlayer chips in every iPod to date has had an ARM at its core.
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

I'd say it has to be something x86 or PPC compatible. I would be very surprised if Apple would port OS X to yet another new processor just for this.

Of course, the iPhone isn't running all of OS X. There's no Finder, no desktop, etc. Depending on how much they stripped away, maybe the remains are portable enough to target a new chip, but it still sounds unlikely to me.

I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the label "OS X" which has been assigned to the iPhone's OS is anything other than a brand name for a product which happens to have a familiar visual interface.

Let's see an officially published API!

Until then, I'll think of the relationship between the iPhone's "OS X" in in comparison with the "Mac OS X" API in the same light as I compare my my PDA's OS (Windows Mobile) against the Win32 API. Specifically, they look similar; they can deliver similar services. But they have different programming interfaces and there is no binary compatibility.

Quote:
One possibility is a non-Intel x86 chip. I've noticed that VIA is making a line of low power processors that may be very attractive for a PDA/phone type device. Their C7-M ULV processor only consumes 3.5W at 1GHz.

Possible. That's the first realistic suggestion I've seen so far to explain them being able to offer a "true" OS X (ie. Darwin-based) solution on something like the iPhone.
post #14 of 26
Also (and I'm no programmer, so I could be completely wrong), I though that OS X APIs were being abstracted to allow for future architecture changes. i.e. No longer writing for Altivec or MMX, but for the accelerate API. If this was the case, then "universal" applications would just run regardless of the processor underneath.
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post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that the label "OS X" which has been assigned to the iPhone's OS is anything other than a brand name for a product which happens to have a familiar visual interface.

In this case, it's not even a familiar visual interface. (Unless you've seen some release of Mac OS with a multi-touch UI )
post #16 of 26
well could it just be that intel doesn't know they are supplying the chips yeta? afterall its not near manufacture yet.

Stu
post #17 of 26
I expected Intel, but it might be Samsung. They have fast, low power ARM-based chips for mobile phones, and of course Apple has a memory deal with them...
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

I'd say it has to be something x86 or PPC compatible. I would be very surprised if Apple would port OS X to yet another new processor just for this.

Of course, the iPhone isn't running all of OS X. There's no Finder, no desktop, etc. Depending on how much they stripped away, maybe the remains are portable enough to target a new chip, but it still sounds unlikely to me.

Actually, Steve listed all the things that OSX gave them, in the keynote.

He mentioned video, audio, multitasking (etc etc), core animation, cocoa. (It was all listed on a slide. I can't watch it again from here sorry.)

Some things he did not mention were Carbon, or Finder (or BSD, or POSIX).

He also said something like "Desktop Class Applications", in contrast to "Desktop Applications", which I thought was an interesting distinction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post

I though that OS X APIs were being abstracted to allow for future architecture changes. i.e. No longer writing for Altivec or MMX, but for the accelerate API. If this was the case, then "universal" applications would just run regardless of the processor underneath.

Absolutely. Cocoa was written this way (see Openstep, or GNUstep), but the older Carbon API was not. Naturally an abstract API can't take advantage of great features of a given processor - and CoreVideo and CoreAudio have attempted to provide abstraction while taking advantage of ALtivec/SSE etc.

I think Apple could easily make a platform based on an embedded OS, running Cocoa, Quartz, CoreVideo/Audio/Animation. I'm not sure how easy they could make it for developers to write an app that runs on both, but they've got experience with doing that.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by shamino View Post

One possibility is a non-Intel x86 chip. I've noticed that VIA is making a line of low power processors that may be very attractive for a PDA/phone type device. Their C7-M ULV processor only consumes 3.5W at 1GHz.

In the same fashion, it could be an AMD Geode.

Still, I think Samsung is more likely.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by stustanley View Post

well could it just be that intel doesn't know they are supplying the chips yeta? afterall its not near manufacture yet.

Stu

Yes, I think so. I suspect that this (along with the iPhone cisco thing and the airline iPod connector thing from a month or two ago) is one of Apple's strong-arm business techniques. I suspect that what happened is that Apple made a low offer to intel for whatever processor is in the iPhone, and intel said, "Let me get back to you on that..." So Apple announces that Intel is providing the chip. This leaves Intel with two options: Accept the offer that is favorable to Apple, or suffer a stock hit that comes from public embarassment when they deny it, and the accompaning confusion.

500 lb. Gorilla tactics. (Apple aint 1000 lb. yet!)

:-D
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post #21 of 26
Are you saying Apple would change processors if Intel doesn't accept a low price for their chip?

Personally, if you were right, I think Intel could easily refuse to undercut themselves - they'd be in a far stronger position than Apple if Apple's already done all that R&D.

However... Apple didn't announce that it was an Intel chip. An Apple guy in Germany said it was an Intel chip, he was probably confusing the AppleTV with the iPhone.
post #22 of 26
There are many many ARM-based processor vendors, and only ARM-based chips have the power consumption to make this device possible. A Transmeta, Geode or VIA chip is an order of magnitude greater in power consumption.

TI, Samsung, Marvell and others are options.

This one looks quite good, here but I seem to think that it may use a discrete ATI Imageon or NVIDIA GoForce instead of an integrated accelerator.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

I think Apple could easily make a platform based on an embedded OS, running Cocoa, Quartz, CoreVideo/Audio/Animation. I'm not sure how easy they could make it for developers to write an app that runs on both, but they've got experience with doing that.

Exactly!

Those technologies are libraries which could theoretically be ported to any underlying hardware and kernel.

If that is the case, then it's entirely conceivable that the source code for a simple "real Mac OS X" Cocoa application might be massaged to the point that it can be re-compiled, unmodified, to run under an "embedded OS with select OS X-related technologies" under such a scheme.

True binary compatibility (in the Universal Binary sense of the word), however, really depends on the continued presence of the BSD/Mach underpinnings of the OS.

But since the common perception is that it's the bells-and-whistles that make up an operating system, (as opposed to the kernel, threading model, file systems, loadable binary formats, etc), even if there's a fundamentally different back-end, the public perception will be that it's actually the same OS.
post #24 of 26
First of all, I would be fantastically surprised if the chip were not ARM-based. If it's x86, then it's a Geode, but even at 0.5W, these are way too power-hungry. In the world of embedded electronics at the 65nm size, you can expect that they are driving for NO LESS THAN 2MIPS/1mW. There are a handful of ARM SoCs that can deliver this.

As far as I can tell, it's either a TI OMAP 3000-series, perhaps a custom model, or a custom Nvidia GoForce. The GoForce has everything except the CPU core, which is inelegant because these days you don't just buy ARM CPUs -- they pretty much always come as SoCs. It's possible that an ARM core CPU has been stacked inside the GoForce package. Apple has been known to do this with iPods, yielding Apple-branded chip packages.
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post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Actually, Steve listed all the things that OSX gave them, in the keynote.

He mentioned video, audio, multitasking (etc etc), core animation, cocoa. (It was all listed on a slide. I can't watch it again from here sorry.)

Some things he did not mention were Carbon, or Finder (or BSD, or POSIX).

He also said something like "Desktop Class Applications", in contrast to "Desktop Applications", which I thought was an interesting distinction.

He listed many features. What makes you think that this was an exhaustive list? MacWorld is not a technical/developer conference. Jobs isn't going to list every dinky feature of the embedded OS - it would bore much of the audience, and is useless information in the absence of any developer tools.

I don't think you can point to that list and say "anything not mentioned must have been deleted".
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GregAlexander View Post

Are you saying Apple would change processors if Intel doesn't accept a low price for their chip?

Personally, if you were right, I think Intel could easily refuse to undercut themselves - they'd be in a far stronger position than Apple if Apple's already done all that R&D.

However... Apple didn't announce that it was an Intel chip. An Apple guy in Germany said it was an Intel chip, he was probably confusing the AppleTV with the iPhone.

Not at all. If Apple makes a bid, and intel rejects it, then Apple still has to make a higher bid. By using that type of leverage though, they can pressure intel to accept their first. If Intel rejects it, no biggie. They just make a higher bid.

Didn't notice that it was a Germany rep. Yeah, I wouldn't expect him to be well in the loop.
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