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Apple mulls GPGPU and iChat; UK stores without contract iPhone?

post #1 of 25
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Apple has potentially tipped its hand through a job posting and revealed iChat as the first known app to use OpenCL with new video cards. Also, British Apple stores may be forced to sell iPhone 3G as prepay-only due to their current sales methods.

Job listing points to general-purpose GPU use in iChat

Although Apple has made clear its intent to build support for general-purpose graphics processing units (GPGPUs) into Mac OS X Snow Leopard with its awareness of NVIDIA technology and its hopes to formally ratify OpenCL as an industry standard, a new posting for a position at the computer giant's Cupertino campus may point to one of the first practical applications of the technology in its software.

An entry for a Senior Software Engineer at the company asks for a recruit who is familiar with video conferencing and cross-platform programming but who is also ideally aware of GPGPU technology, suggesting that the company may use the more generalized nature of new video chipsets to handle tasks in iChat or other communication programs that aren't directly related to conventional image processing.

While the nature of any possible additions isn't mentioned in the listing, an earlier post searching for multiple software engineers specifically mentions a GPGPU engineer who would help develop libraries for calculating physics, signal processing, and similar tasks.

Apple's UK retail to be limited to prepaid iPhone 3G?

British buyers looking for iPhone 3G on July 11th might need to shop beyond Apple if they want the fully subsidized pricing, according to statements made by an O2 spokeswoman to Mobile Today.

At the moment, UK Apple stores don't have a way to check customer credit on-site and haven't trained staff on how to register customers on contract plans. The limitation would all but require Apple's own stores to offer iPhone 3G as a prepaid device that could cost £350 in the country.

While the original iPhone was activated at home and so didn't require that Apple retail staff activate phones themselves, the need to activate on location potentially shuts out Apple's current sales system and may require that sign-ups for term-based plans -- and the accompanying heavily discounted iPhones -- take place at Carphone Warehouse and O2 locations.

Despite the added business it would bring to O2's direct outlets, the wireless carrier says it's cooperating with the iPhone maker to allow in-store activations for either company, though there's no indication as to whether it will be ready for launch on July 11th.

"We are currently working closely with Apple to enable them to issue contracts in store," the spokeswoman says. "Full details are still to be confirmed."
post #2 of 25
Three weeks to get a couple O2 terminals for activation and credit checks, and to train the Apple staff? That doesn't seem too difficult when the alternative is Apple limits the number of stores customers will shop in and will lose the important foot traffic that will be going to other locations to get their iPhone.
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post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...suggesting that the company may use the more generalized nature of new video chipsets to handle tasks in iChat...

What new video chipsets are they talking about? Is apple coming out with updated video cards soon? I'm buying the new imac soon... should i wait?
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tannerozzy View Post

What new video chipsets are they talking about? Is apple coming out with updated video cards soon? I'm buying the new imac soon... should i wait?

I wouldn't think so, Apple recently updated the iMac line, possibly a new chipset in the MBP though? And then eventually in the iMac when it comes to the next refresh?
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post #5 of 25
£350 is more or less $700 for an iPhone without a plan..
who said the new 3G model was going to be cheaper?
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Three weeks to get a couple O2 terminals for activation and credit checks, and to train the Apple staff? That doesn't seem too difficult when the alternative is Apple limits the number of stores customers will shop in and will lose the important foot traffic that will be going to other locations to get their iPhone.

Yeah, either that, or if it is too much of a hassle, they should have just decided to sell them at full unsubsidized price at Apple stores, and then people would receive a $300 or whatever rebate when they signed up for a plan through the carrier. This could have allowed people to continue signing up over iTunes. At the same time, if people didn't want to front the whole cost and wait for the rebate, they could directly pay the lower subsidized price for the iPhone at the actual carrier stores.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tannerozzy View Post

What new video chipsets are they talking about? Is apple coming out with updated video cards soon? I'm buying the new imac soon... should i wait?

My guess is that OpenCL code will compile down to Nvidia's and AMD's existing GPGPU instruction sets for their GPUs. If this is the case, it will require either an nVidia Geforce 8xxx-series GPU, or an AMD X1900 or better. I doubt Intels integrated chipsets will be supported, at least at first. They are mostly crap.


EDIT: Hey I just wanted to add that if you are considering buying an iMac, It's worth it to NOT get the fastest processor available and instead spend that money on upgrading the graphics card. I used to advise people to do that anyway, but especially with OpenCL on its way and other GPGPU applications being made, good graphics cards are no longer just for gamers and 3D modeling/animation/CAD users. As Nvidia likes to tout now days since so many people buy computers that have fast Intel processors but crappy intel integrated graphics, you need a "balanced" system.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

EDIT: Hey I just wanted to add that if you are considering buying an iMac, It's worth it to NOT get the fastest processor available and instead spend that money on upgrading the graphics card.

I did that with my Mac Pro twenty months ago and it was really the right decision for me. Went low on the processor and HD in return for better graphics card and more RAM.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

I did that with my Mac Pro twenty months ago and it was really the right decision for me. Went low on the processor and HD in return for better graphics card and more RAM.

I hope that wasn't Apple priced RAM.

As for iChat: isn't it the iPhone where such acceleration would really matter? It has a discrete GPU, albeit of course a fairly simple one. If OpenCL can harness that, then iPhone iChat AV could be feasible. Otherwise it's a wait for the next processor, and those solar cell backed-displays we've been hearing about methinks!
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by pooped View Post

£350 is more or less $700 for an iPhone without a plan..
who said the new 3G model was going to be cheaper?

Tell me where we could buy an unlocked, unhacked, fully supported 2G iPhone for $700 please.

It's definitely cheaper.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Tell me where we could buy an unlocked, unhacked, fully supported 2G iPhone for $700 please.

It's definitely cheaper.

It will still be locked to O2 though
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post #11 of 25
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Originally Posted by fuyutsuki View Post

I hope that wasn't Apple priced RAM.

It sure was, grumble grumble, but just enough to tide me over. I've since put in some more of Crucial's way cheaper proper Mac Pro RAM as well as two way cheaper and huger HDs, both when the prices were (finally) right.
post #12 of 25
Will the 8800 GS option in the current iMac BTO qualify for this type programming?
post #13 of 25
Remember, CarphoneWarehouse, O2 and Apple UK are all working *together*. This is what I encourage for all employees. Yes, we all have targets and all that, but more iPhone 3Gs in peoples hands = better world. Yes, I do believe that.
post #14 of 25
You all do realise that, for those familiar with the chain in the UK, Carphone Warehouse is very possibly the next biggest reseller of Apple products outside of Apple UK.

They are also owned 50% now from Best Buy, which has specialised Apple Store-within-a-Store, in the USA and China.

You do the math.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by fuyutsuki View Post

I hope that wasn't Apple priced RAM.

As for iChat: isn't it the iPhone where such acceleration would really matter? It has a discrete GPU, albeit of course a fairly simple one. If OpenCL can harness that, then iPhone iChat AV could be feasible. Otherwise it's a wait for the next processor, and those solar cell backed-displays we've been hearing about methinks!

YES. Thanks to the CUDA technology research by nVidia, 8-series, 9-series, 200-series (new from nVidia) all have HARDWARE ACCELERATED h.264 encoding/ decoding.

For the iPhone, hopefully something like the Tegra will find its way in there someday. Imagine great, responsive video quality, at miniscule amounts of bandwidth.



nVidia 200-series has good H.264 hardware acceleration support, of course, Windows APIs most commonly used right now, AFAIK.
http://www.nvidia.com/object/geforce_gtx_280.html
post #16 of 25
There are only 18 Apple retail stores in the UK, whereas there is an o2 and a Carphone Warehouse store on every high street.
post #17 of 25
Firstly I doubt Apple would sell it through their stores if that were the case, (the site didnt even say they would be selling them at Apple Stores). Secondly how can Apple train its hundreds of US staff for in-store activation if it can't train its far smaller UK staff to do the same?

Something's weird about this.
post #18 of 25
On the job posting I can finally see iChat for Windows. The route will be selling an iPhone to a Windows user, just like selling an iPod to an Win user. Next step is to sell Mobile.me to the Win user and they need iChat as part of that i especially if the Win user can use the iChat just like Mac users can. The reality of visual chats with the iPhone will have to wait until there is an iChat camera on the front of the iPhone. I thought all of this would happen at the last Keynote, now hoping it will happen at MWSF 09. My wife has to use Skype to talk to her brother in Australia, almost daily, and it's a poor, choppy connection that can break off. An no, the brother will not go Mac as he is a heavy tech user as a Medical Scientist and is too old to learn new tricks. Looks like I'll have to wait until January before getting the 2 iPhones - one for me and one for the wife so I can get mine.

As far as the iPhone sales at Apple stores, I don't see Apple employees handling the contracts. I can see Apple letting O2 put in a server and some of their staff with MacBooks (and it had better be MacBooks ) in the Stores to handle the sign-up. The O2 staff would then hand and Apple a certificate (probably electronic) and the customer can pick up their iPhone. Number of O2 staff would in the Apple stores would be high on release and then drop down to one at some point in the future as sales dropped to "normal". Should NOT be that big a deal of O2 & Apple to work out.
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post #19 of 25
I really wish they didn't do credit checks when taking out a phone contract. It's terribly invasive and just applying for 'credit' affects your credit rating.
post #20 of 25
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Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

I really wish they didn't do credit checks when taking out a phone contract. It's terribly invasive and just applying for 'credit' affects your credit rating.

Yes, I really wish they didn't do credit checks when extending credit.
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

I really wish they didn't do credit checks when taking out a phone contract. It's terribly invasive and just applying for 'credit' affects your credit rating.

It in invasive, but necessary when you are buying something on credit. You are getting a device well under the wholesale price and getting service that you pay for at the end of the month.
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post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by adavidw View Post

Yes, I really wish they didn't do credit checks when extending credit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

It in invasive, but necessary when you are buying something on credit. You are getting a device well under the wholesale price and getting service that you pay for at the end of the month.

Whatever, I still don't think it's necessary and I still think it's treating your customers like criminals right at the start of your relationship with them. Pretty shitty IMHO.

I'm perhaps 'scarred' by the process though. It took me two years once to clear a mistake on my credit record where a shop assistant had entered details wrongly when I was buying a sofa on interest free credit. My credit rating just said I'd applied and been refused credit three times. And I once had a CCJ on my record for someone else in the shared house I lived in that stopped me getting anything for 6 years. The credit scoring system most companies used is borked and I resent the fact I have to check up occasionally to see what mistakes are on mine.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

Whatever, I still don't think it's necessary and I still think it's treating your customers like criminals right at the start of your relationship with them. Pretty shitty IMHO.

I'm perhaps 'scarred' by the process though. It took me two years once to clear a mistake on my credit record where a shop assistant had entered details wrongly when I was buying a sofa on interest free credit. My credit rating just said I'd applied and been refused credit three times. And I once had a CCJ on my record for someone else in the shared house I lived in that stopped me getting anything for 6 years. The credit scoring system most companies used is borked and I resent the fact I have to check up occasionally to see what mistakes are on mine.

You could instead buy everything outright, forefoing credit in most cases. Truth be told, I am not a fan or credit and do that for most purchases.

If AT&T didn't check credit they would be swidled out of millions. How else is the company going to protect itself when it's giving you a product and service before you are paying for it? It's not a perfect system and there are people who fall through the cracks because of other's mistakes, but as a general rule it does work.

PS: As a general rule, they are finding a correlation between responsible driving and ones credit score. So it appears that it is being used to help determine how much to charge a customer for car insurance.
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post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You could instead buy everything outright, forefoing credit in most cases. Truth be told, I am not a fan or credit and do that for most purchases.

If AT&T didn't check credit they would be swidled out of millions. How else is the company going to protect itself when it's giving you a product and service before you are paying for it? It's not a perfect system and there are people who fall through the cracks because of other's mistakes, but as a general rule it does work.

PS: As a general rule, they are finding a correlation between responsible driving and ones credit score. So it appears that it is being used to help determine how much to charge a customer for car insurance.

The problem then is that even if you paid the phone subsidy (allegedly $352) up front plus AT&T's profit on the sale which would equate to the 'credit' part of the deal, they'd not reduce the monthly contract terms so you'd still be paying full whack each month for the service so you don't really win by avoiding credit.

This is especially true of the iPhone where you have to sign up to iPhone tariffs to use some of the features of the phone.

Sorry if I'm in 'phone carriers are bastards' mode but IME they're up there with estate agents for first against the wall come the revolution.
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by aegisdesign View Post

The problem then is that even if you paid the phone subsidy (allegedly $352) up front plus AT&T's profit on the sale which would equate to the 'credit' part of the deal, they'd not reduce the monthly contract terms so you'd still be paying full whack each month for the service so you don't really win by avoiding credit.

This is especially true of the iPhone where you have to sign up to iPhone tariffs to use some of the features of the phone.

Sorry if I'm in 'phone carriers are bastards' mode but IME they're up there with estate agents for first against the wall come the revolution.

They are bastards! And if you go with an unsubsidized handset on a plan that you pay up front you are charged even more money. I suppose it's because they typically have a lot of turn over with this customers that the charges are higher, but it does seem proportionally high. I suppose the same price for plans when you buy a device outright could use the same theory as to why there are no price breaks

PS: My biggest issue with AT&T is that I get unlimited/unlimited data but only 200 SMS messages. Not that I use them much, but it strikes me as odd since a 160 character SMS is a lot smaller than the email header I sent from iPhone constantly, much less than viewing a webpage, making a call or view a YouTube video. It could be argued that this practice of charging unreasonable rates for SMS is an illegal price gouging tactic that could be made into a class action lawsuit.
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