Originally Posted by winterspan
This is somewhat off-topic, but since it was mentioned in this article I am writing it here.
It pisses me off that both AI and Macrumors continue to perpetuate these RIDICULOUS speculations regarding the next iPhone using multi-core Cortex-A9 ARM cpus and/or the fastest multi-core version of the PowerVR SGX graphics chip..
I don't think it will happen in the model that replaces the current iPhone. Infact I believe that basic but slightly enhanced device will be around for awhile. What they will do is lower the power profile and enhance the performance modestly. In effect what everybody is using today will end up being the low end model ( with those modest revisions).
What will be in the high end iPhone is a more interesting discussion. Probably Cortex A8 but the big question is just how long PA Semi was working for Apple before the buy out. What ever hardware they designed is most likely already finalized and probably has been for months now. The thing here is that Apple has had a very long relationship with ARM and now owns part of the graphics IP company, so there is no doubt in my mind that they have been wire into Cortex in all it's variants and the new graphics core. So they could be far into a design with this hardware.
To a certain extent it is hard to deny Apples involvement in the graphics chip development. It is being advertised as OpenCL compatible, the first for the company. This didn't happen by accident!!
The problem is, is this hardware really targetted at Cell phones. I don't really think so and frankly there are plenty of high performance chips for phones now. I suspect that we will first see this hardwAre in larger devices that can use the extra performance. Even though they are ARM chips, the new cortex chips relatively use a lot of power.
1) the core designs may be finalized, but silicon from ANY manufacturer is not even CLOSE to being ready to ship in a production device.
Well Apple does have an advantage here, so I would not be surprised to see them out the door first with an A9 Cortex. I don't however see that going into an iPhone form factor device.
Of course there is the possibility that PA could so modify the ARM machine that we may not recognize it as either a Cortex A8 or A9. LA does have the background to take Apple the fully custom route. One thing they might do is add an instruction or two to speed up Objective C.
2) More importantly, we all know that Apple is very much concerned with the "overall package" of the devices it sells, and takes into account not just theoretical performance specifications, but a dozen other concerns like battery life, form factor, weight, units cost etc. The iPhone 3G uses a middle-of-the-road ARM11 cpu and the "light" version of the PowerVR MBX graphics chip. The major difference with other smartphone manufacturers is solely in their advanced software and the fact that they actually licensed drivers for and UTILIZE the SIMD/DSP and graphics functionality of the chipset in the iPhone.
True to this point! However if they wanted to maintain that approach they would have never of purchased PA. There has to be a reason for that and getting out the door early may be one of the reasons.
My point is that there is no reason to suspect they will abandon their approach to device design and suddenly decide to use the most expensive, powerful, and power-hungry ICs for the next iPhone.
If we are talking about the bottom end iPhone I would agree. It is clear though that Apple is working towards a family of devices. Apple could easily couple an A8 with the latest GPU core and come out ahead. Especially if they have any plans to put OpenCL on the iPhone. The core wouldn't need to run full out to be a nice upgrade. They are much freer to implement faster more power hungery tech on higher end models.
Much more likely I see the next iPhone using a chip that integrates a ~500-600Mhz (single-core) Cortex-A8 (which is already 1.5X as fast as an ARM11 at same clock) with a graphics chip that falls in the middle of the line of the next-gen PowerVR SGX series. Despite not being up to the level of the outrageous, unfeasible speculation of AI and Macrumors, this would still be incredible compared to even the current iPhone, and the resultant experience would continue to be FAR ahead of all the competitors. (this hardware is basically equivalent to that running the T.I. OMAP3 processor in the forthcoming Palm Pre).
Apple needs a range of solutions and it looks like they are ready to give us just that. No that doesn't mean to me we will get sixteen GPU cores in a cell phone. That probably isn't going to happen but we may see eight in a video iPod Touch with a seven inch screen. To me it isn't a question that Apple is working on advanced SoC solutions but rather how many and what products they are targetting.