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Apple's future iPhones may leverage ARM's v7 Cortex designs

post #1 of 39
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With Apple's first proprietary system-on-a-chip designs still rumored to be under active development, the iPhone maker may turn to ARM's standard v7 Cortex designs for multi-touch devices it plans to launch this year before building off the platform next year.

A recent job posting by Apple dug up by MacRumors seeks and iPhone developer with extensive knowledge of ARM's embedded processors, including their NEON vector unit.

As the rumor site points out, NEON is an extended instruction set similar to Intel's SSE or PowerPC's AltiVec which can accelerate multimedia applications. It's also said to be the marketing term for the most recent version of those extensions specifically for the ARMv7 Cortex processor, which is the successor to the ARMv6 chip currently employed in the second-generation of both the iPhone and iPod touch.

One theory behind Apple's apparent interest in NEON is that the extensions may help facilitate a number of multimedia-intensive operations due to start turning up in the iPhone this year, such as video recording, video processing, and rudimentary video editing.

Recently, the Wall Street Journal cited people familiar with Apple's ongoing efforts to develop its own embedded processors as saying those designs are unlikely to materialize until sometime next year. Still, mounting evidence suggest that this year's iPhone and iPod touch will sport a materially distinct architecture from their predecessors.

Given that Apple's latest job listing is dated this month and third-generation iPhones are already believed to be nearing production, it's possible the company's plan is to adopt Cortex chips based off ARM's reference designs this year, before making its own proprietary additions to those schematics for devices that will launch next year.
post #2 of 39
First post

Ok, on a serious note...

As they say to the end of the article - it isn't likely that the new iPhone will have this technology. Still... its feasible, considering the turnover time of the iPod touch, that they may be able to pioneer this technology in that.

After all, the first iPod Touch was an afterthought after the iPhone's success was it not, with a very short run-up time?

Also considering the rampup of CPU in the iPod Touch, and Nike + inclusion, perhaps we are seeing a trend where the iPod touch will start as more of a "road - test" of technologies that will make their way into the iPhone, but tested on a simpler platform in the iPod - a platform that specifically lacks other more phone-relevant technologies, like GPS and cellular radios & basebands, and also lacks many of the hardware-specific software complexities of the iPhone.
post #3 of 39
Second post, but this time for a reason.

Spelling error: "turing up in the iPhone"...

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post #4 of 39
Why isn't it more likely that this NEON would end up in the itablet people keep talking about? They've been working on that for quite some time, and I'm thinking that Munster's prediction of late 2010 is probably going to be a full swing that follows some slow pitch we're going to get shortly.

That's right, I'm predicting multiple devices...
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Second post, but this time for a reason.

Spelling error: "turing up in the iPhone"...

Heh heh, must have been a Freudian slip..... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing
post #6 of 39
I don't believe anyone that says they've heard word of a device that's going to ship in 18 months. I don't believe substantive leaks happen at that early a stage in a product's development cycle.

I do believe Apple would be looking at Cortex chips for a beefier ARM based product due to ship this year. This would allow them to lead right into their own custom designs in 2010 with version 2 product.

Right now off the shelf ARM parts are fine and give Apple time to complete their design process with PA Semi.

As for the iPhone this year would appear to be handled by a faster ARM 6 product, faster Imagination graphics and updated wireless product and other tech.

A driver for faster Cortex processing would, IMO, be driven by HD video out options and more NAND memory which would allow for larger phones for video recording/playback.
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post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

First post

Ok, on a serious note...

As they say to the end of the article - it isn't likely that the new iPhone will have this technology. Still... its feasible, considering the turnover time of the iPod touch, that they may be able to pioneer this technology in that.

After all, the first iPod Touch was an afterthought after the iPhone's success was it not, with a very short run-up time?

Also considering the rampup of CPU in the iPod Touch, and Nike + inclusion, perhaps we are seeing a trend where the iPod touch will start as more of a "road - test" of technologies that will make their way into the iPhone, but tested on a simpler platform in the iPod - a platform that specifically lacks other more phone-relevant technologies, like GPS and cellular radios & basebands, and also lacks many of the hardware-specific software complexities of the iPhone.

I think the earliest we may see ARMv7 is with the Touch. After all, Apple is pitting it a super gaming console. We know it has a faster clocked CPU and they have pushed the games pretty hard. I dont think that will stop anytime soon.

I would not be surprised is the upcoming event also showed some new HW attachments for these handhelds. Once the D-pads comes I think well see an even bigger congregation of major game developers working their way on iPhone OS X.
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post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Given that Apple's latest job listing is dated this month and third-generation iPhones are already believed to be nearing production, it's possible the company's plan is to adopt Cortex chips based off ARM's reference designs this year, before making its own proprietary additions to those schematics for devices that will launch next year.

If Apple is like any company I've worked at, it's highly likely that they already have such expertise in-house and have already worked the key issues, and made the key decisions and designs. Most hiring is for new (non-executive) people who step in behind the leaders to continue, fine-tune, and expand the work already being done, not for these new people to start up work in a new area, especially as those leaders are looking to move on to the next challenge and the next products.

Thus, I believe these June-July iPhones will already use the Cortex v7 chips.
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post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I think the earliest we may see ARMv7 is with the Touch. After all, Apple is pitting it a super gaming console. We know it has a faster clocked CPU and they have pushed the games pretty hard. I don’t think that will stop anytime soon.

I would not be surprised is the upcoming event also showed some new HW attachments for these handhelds. Once the D-pads comes I think we’ll see an even bigger congregation of major game developers working their way on iPhone OS X.

I will be shocked if Apple is not using a Cortex based processor most likely an A8 with a Power VR graphics core. If they hope to compete with the PRE on power consumption/ Performance then they need the A8. The A8 design is available from Samsung if a PA Semi version is not already being built. http://www.samsung.com/global/busine...ure_200902.pdf
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pats View Post

I will be shocked if Apple is not using a Cortex based processor most likely an A8 with a Power VR graphics core. If they hope to compete with the PRE on power consumption/ Performance then they need the A8. The A8 design is available from Samsung if a PA Semi version is not already being built. http://www.samsung.com/global/busine...ure_200902.pdf

1) I was going to ask you if it was used in any product yet, which usually needs to happen before Apple with their excessive needs pre model type, but I decided to look it up first. The Palm Pre and a whole slow of other are using the ARM v7 Cortex-A8 already or will use it shortly. That is good news for this being the base of the next time.

2) Any chance that they could use Cortex-A9 or some other chip instead?

3) Why do you think it’ll be PowerVR over Nvidia’s Tegra?

PS: Welcome to the AI forums and keep up the informative posts.
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post #11 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1)

3) Why do you think itll be PowerVR over Nvidias Tegra?

Apple buys 3.6% of Imagination

The Tegra is a nice chip but Apple has been investing in Imagination (who also was on the steering group for OpenCL)
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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

Apple buys 3.6% of Imagination

The Tegra is a nice chip but Apple has been investing in Imagination (who also was on the steering group for OpenCL)

Even with Apples new relationship with Nvidia that seems pretty conclusive.
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post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

1) I was going to ask you if it was used in any product yet, which usually needs to happen before Apple with their excessive needs pre model type, but I decided to look it up first. The Palm Pre and a whole slow of other are using the ARM v7 Cortex-A8 already or will use it shortly. That is good news for this being the base of the next time.

2) Any chance that they could use Cortex-A9 or some other chip instead?

3) Why do you think it’ll be PowerVR over Nvidia’s Tegra?

Two reasons for the PowerVR graphics Apple invested in a stock offering from Imagination buying 3.6% of the company which I think was a cash infusion to keep things rolling and Imagination announced that Apple was using their IP.

Good question on the A9. The design was made available in Oct 07 and it is normally 2 years before it would appear in an end user device. Apple bought PA Semi in April 08 which would have given them about a year of design time assuming the production for Iphone 3rd version was in the April 09 for the first run and then May for the main run. This would allow test/assembly for a late June launch. The timeline for a A9 would be very aggressive, but since Apple controls the design they could probably trim a couple months from the normal timeline because they don't have all the back and forth when dealing with an external customer and no need to market ect. I would love to see the A9 as it would tie in nicely with the Snow Leopard Open CL and Grand Central Work.
post #14 of 39
Anyone have any ideas what Apple wanted with PA Semi? Surely, the most common answer is using their staff’s ARM knowledge to create better chips with ARM CPUs, but what specifically could they do with it that isn’t already done? Make it considerably smaller and more compact, like Apple’s Mac MoBos?
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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Anyone have any ideas what Apple wanted with PA Semi? Surely, the most common answer is using their staffs ARM knowledge to create better chips with ARM CPUs, but what specifically could they do with it that isnt already done? Make it considerably smaller and more compact, like Apples Mac MoBos?

I think that's the million dollar question.

Custom design is nice but the expense of chip design pretty much means a custom design has got to be significantly better than "off the shelf"

Is Apple going to be able to add value features that no one else can ape (albeit at lower quality) with turnkey SoC?

I know not enough about design nor can I even postulate on what unique features Apple could add. I guess that's what is going to make the mobile market for Apple exciting again. We're back to that "anything can happen" with Apple products.

Let the speculation begin!
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post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Anyone have any ideas what Apple wanted with PA Semi? Surely, the most common answer is using their staffs ARM knowledge to create better chips with ARM CPUs, but what specifically could they do with it that isnt already done? Make it considerably smaller and more compact, like Apples Mac MoBos?

PA SEMI's expertise was performance per watt. From the beginning, P.A. focused on developing a family of products that is extensible and scalable. This required a lot of upfront investment and design time to ensure that their efforts would be reusable. They hope that by extensively reusing their IP, that they can tape out and productize their designs much more rapidly; the stated goal was a 3 month tape out, once the first core had been developed. This shorter development time would allow them to address more markets than would be otherwise possible. The PWRficient family incorporates three elements:

The PA6T processor core
The CONEXIUM interchange
The ENVOI I/O system and offload engines
Moreover, each element can be scaled in a variety of dimensions to accommodate various markets and price points.
post #17 of 39
I'm starting to think with all the clamoring about what the iPhone (software) can and can not do. That maybe it's been a big blinder to the HW side of things. The thing about it is, it could just get faster. You know, like computers, we don't worry about software, we want faster processors, more ram, faster buss speeds, etc. Also, with the iPhone being how old now, 4? I'm sure even battery tech as improved so much that they could boost speed above 800mhz and see no significant loss in battery usage. That would make for some much more powerful apps. You know someday I'll have CAD software for my iPod
I'm just hoping. Because really the software doesn't matter, there's an app store. I'm sure if apple doesn't release it, some third party will find a way. BTW if we all use the same app store account only one of us would have to buy the apps J/K
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post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pats View Post


The PA6T processor core
The CONEXIUM interchange
The ENVOI I/O system and offload engines
Moreover, each element can be scaled in a variety of dimensions to accommodate various markets and price points.

I think Apple's going to have to do just that. It only makes sense that Apple looks at their current lineup and says "We own PA Semi and have licenses for Imagination graphics, ARM architectural license (rumored). Why are we buying Marvel chips for the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule? Why are we using Pentium M and Nvidia graphics for the Apple TV? Etc.

Many of Apple's current non Macintosh products can be run using their own chip design to help amortize the cost of development and add features.

I expect an Apple to field a storage device or home server appliance eventually. Today we see NAS powered by Freescale, ARM and Atom chips deliver great performance for the home. I see an Apple designed chip being used here effectively as well.
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post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by m2002brian View Post

I'm starting to think with all the clamoring about what the iPhone (software) can and can not do. That maybe it's been a big blinder to the HW side of things. The thing about it is, it could just get faster. You know, like computers, we don't worry about software, we want faster processors, more ram, faster buss speeds, etc. Also, with the iPhone being how old now, 4? I'm sure even battery tech as improved so much that they could boost speed above 800mhz and see no significant loss in battery usage. That would make for some much more powerful apps. You know someday I'll have CAD software for my iPod
I'm just hoping. Because really the software doesn't matter, there's an app store. I'm sure if apple doesn't release it, some third party will find a way. BTW if we all use the same app store account only one of us would have to buy the apps J/K

The iPhone is almost 2 years old since the first one was sold. The CPU is the same from the original model and it is underclocked from 620Mhz to about 400MHz. ARMv7 starts at 600MHz so well see if they use a faster CPU that they can underclock to save power, so they can use it next year and so they up the clock speed as they make the software more power efficient. They have a history of this and it seemed to work out well.

There is newer battery tech out but I am not sure how well tested it is, the Lithium Polymer Ion batteries are still very common for these devices. I hope they do use a better battery tech but Im not expecting it.
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post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I expect an Apple to field a storage device or home server appliance eventually. Today we see NAS powered by Freescale, ARM and Atom chips deliver great performance for the home. I see an Apple designed chip being used here effectively as well.

I see a higher consumer market for a home NAS than I do for a tablet device. A real NAS from Apple would be great.
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post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by m2002brian View Post

I'm starting to think with all the clamoring about what the iPhone (software) can and can not do. That maybe it's been a big blinder to the HW side of things. The thing about it is, it could just get faster. You know, like computers, we don't worry about software, we want faster processors, more ram, faster buss speeds, etc. Also, with the iPhone being how old now, 4? I'm sure even battery tech as improved so much that they could boost speed above 800mhz and see no significant loss in battery usage. That would make for some much more powerful apps. You know someday I'll have CAD software for my iPod
I'm just hoping. Because really the software doesn't matter, there's an app store. I'm sure if apple doesn't release it, some third party will find a way. BTW if we all use the same app store account only one of us would have to buy the apps J/K

Actually battery technology moves very slow. You can expect about a 4% improvement per year. Compared to a doubling every two years for Silicon ICs. In my mind the key is less the battery and more on the ICs and display that use the battery. My guess is if you compare a Iphone 3G running the current software to the next generation Iphone running the Iphone OS 3.0 software you will have noticeable speed and battery life improvements. It won't be just a few percent. Anyone who has used the 4.0 beta of Safari with the Java Script performance improvements via the Web Kit Squirrel Fish knows that the next version of Safari on the Iphone will be much faster.
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by m2002brian View Post

I'm starting to think with all the clamoring about what the iPhone (software) can and can not do. That maybe it's been a big blinder to the HW side of things. The thing about it is, it could just get faster. You know, like computers, we don't worry about software, we want faster processors, more ram, faster buss speeds, etc. Also, with the iPhone being how old now, 4? I'm sure even battery tech as improved so much that they could boost speed above 800mhz and see no significant loss in battery usage. That would make for some much more powerful apps. You know someday I'll have CAD software for my iPod
I'm just hoping. Because really the software doesn't matter, there's an app store. I'm sure if apple doesn't release it, some third party will find a way. BTW if we all use the same app store account only one of us would have to buy the apps J/K

Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I think Apple's going to have to do just that. It only makes sense that Apple looks at their current lineup and says "We own PA Semi and have licenses for Imagination graphics, ARM architectural license (rumored). Why are we buying Marvel chips for the Airport Extreme and Time Capsule? Why are we using Pentium M and Nvidia graphics for the Apple TV? Etc.

Many of Apple's current non Macintosh products can be run using their own chip design to help amortize the cost of development and add features.

I expect an Apple to field a storage device or home server appliance eventually. Today we see NAS powered by Freescale, ARM and Atom chips deliver great performance for the home. I see an Apple designed chip being used here effectively as well.

I think the desktop/laptop lines will continue the existing Intel/Nvidia relationship, but all the other devices will move to Apple developed silicon. Once you have a good design, the more you make the more you can amortize the R&D against. Once the production line starts, to produce a few million extra chips is small change compared to the amount spent on R&D to get your first design.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by pats View Post

Actually battery technology moves very slow. You can expect about a 4% improvement per year. Compared to a doubling every two years for Silicon ICs. In my mind the key is less the battery and more on the ICs and display that use the battery. My guess is if you compare a Iphone 3G running the current software to the next generation Iphone running the Iphone OS 3.0 software you will have noticeable speed and battery life improvements. It won't be just a few percent. Anyone who has used the 4.0 beta of Safari with the Java Script performance improvements via the Web Kit Squirrel Fish knows that the next version of Safari on the Iphone will be much faster.

Yes I think the delta you see between product refresh is the effect of slightly better battery life and newer chips that do more functions with less wattage. I read that Apple could have used a more full featured bluetooth chip for 3G iPhone but instead went with the lower power (read safe) option.

If they are going to truly use the Broadcom Wifi/BT/FM Transmit chip they've probably eliminated 2 seperate chips at least that managed their own power.
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post #24 of 39
congrads to all here.no fighting .no techstud ,just a great chip read .

my 2 cents apple will have with PA semi there own chips which makes the others guys un able to copy apple so easy.

peace

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post #25 of 39
Don't say the name - it just attracts him...
post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

First post

Ok, on a serious note...

As they say to the end of the article - it isn't likely that the new iPhone will have this technology. Still... its feasible, considering the turnover time of the iPod touch, that they may be able to pioneer this technology in that.

After all, the first iPod Touch was an afterthought after the iPhone's success was it not, with a very short run-up time?

Also considering the rampup of CPU in the iPod Touch, and Nike + inclusion, perhaps we are seeing a trend where the iPod touch will start as more of a "road - test" of technologies that will make their way into the iPhone, but tested on a simpler platform in the iPod - a platform that specifically lacks other more phone-relevant technologies, like GPS and cellular radios & basebands, and also lacks many of the hardware-specific software complexities of the iPhone.

Most of this tech talk is Greek to me! That being said; I always thought the Touch would be the perfect testbed in house for future HW advancements with successful ones implemented into the iPhone and whatever else is coming.

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post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

Don't say the name - it just attracts him...
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post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

Don't say the name - it just attracts him...

Is he Beetlejuice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by P L View Post

Most of this tech talk is Greek to me! That being said; I always thought the Touch would be the perfect testbed in house for future HW advancements with successful ones implemented into the iPhone and whatever else is coming.

it is complex, but you'll pick it up in no time. There are a lot mire technical forums around but I find I learn more here than the others because of the average forum member's knowledge and demeanor.
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post #29 of 39
http://www.arm.com/products/CPUs/ARM...A9_MPCore.html

The Multicore is the most logical choice.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by PG4G View Post

Don't say the name - it just attracts him...

I'm keeping my heavy-duty fly-swatter on hand and fully coiled ready to smack.

Apple's doing some serious investment in the chip design area. IMHO, I think we won't see any fruit from this labor at least until mid-2010. Whether this is for the iPhone or some expanded device like a tablet, Apple skunkworks I'm sure will come up with some interesting devices and options! This is a good R&D investment of that $25b-$29b bank account.
post #31 of 39
Some info:
  • "ARMv6" is the instruction set of the ARM11 processor core (current iPhone)
  • "ARMv7" is the instruction set of the new ARM Cortex-series processors, with the single-core Cortex-A8 and multi-core-capable Cortex-A9

The Cortex-A8 is nearly TWICE as fast as the ARM11 core at the same clock speed, and is usually clocked between 600mhz and 1000mhz. The Cortex-A8 core is used as the primary core in T.I.'s OMAP3xxx series (as used in the Palm Pre) and Qualcomm's Snapdragon platform. There are currently no shipping smartphones using the new Cortex series processors.

The next iPhone will likely use a chip based on the ARM Cortex-A8 core. Chips based on the multi-core capable (and out-of-order processing) Cortex-A9 will not be ready until next year at the earliest.

Quote:
one theory behind Apple's apparent interest in NEON is that the extensions may help facilitate a number of multimedia-intensive operations due to start turning up in the iPhone this year, such as video recording, video processing, and rudimentary video editing.

This is VERY UNLIKELY. The "NEON" SIMD instructions do indeed speed up the processing of multimedia type applications, but are only used if the chip doesn't include higher-performance hardware components dedicated towards video encode/decode, graphics acceleration, etc.

All of the mainstream Texas instruments, Qualcomm, etc system-on-a-chips intended for smartphones offload video processing to dedicated video encode/decode logic and/or high performance DSPs and have dedicated GPUs for graphics acceleration. These are far more efficient at their respective tasks than using the SIMD units on the ARM, and this is how the current iPhone works.
Lower end applications and phones may use solely the ARM core SIMD units to do multimedia tasks.
post #32 of 39
Edit: Pipped by Winterspan.
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post #33 of 39
IIRC, the first ARM v7 phone has just been released in the UK.
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

IIRC, the first ARM v7 phone has just been released in the UK.

it also has OLED screen i guess this is what the iphone might look like.
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post #35 of 39
The Cortex-A8 runs at 768 MHz. Slide 21 here

Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

Some info:

The Cortex-A8 is nearly TWICE as fast as the ARM11 core at the same clock speed, and is usually clocked between 600mhz and 1000mhz. .......

According to this presentation (slide 16), the NEON instructions help in media processing and editing.

Strangely, the 3rd slide from here says that ARM received money from Apple early on..... Interesting, I didnt know that

If someone is bored enough and wants to read about the entire ARM achitecture across their processors (including ARM8 from slides 58-60).................

Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

This is VERY UNLIKELY. The "NEON" SIMD instructions do indeed speed up the processing of multimedia type applications, but are only used if the chip doesn't include higher-performance hardware components dedicated towards video encode/decode, graphics acceleration, etc.
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post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Is [Teckstud] Beetlejuice?

Yes... I'm starting to think so...
post #37 of 39
Personally I think that we think of the iPhone and iPod touch much too much like iPods - something that will change often visually depending on the trends that are set by society.

The iPod has evolved throughout the years from a brick to the clean, sophisticated look it now sports - but didn't it always seem clean and sophisticated? Stylistic trends change, and that seems to drive iPod development and changes far more than it does to Macs and other PC's.

Take for example the MacBook Pro. In the time it took them to make 6 major generations of the iPod (forgetting the photo and 5.5g video), 4 of the iPod nano, 2 of the mini, 2 of the shuffle and two of the touch, the MacBook Pro moved from the PowerBook to the MacBook line, but has looked almost identical, until the Unibody event late last year. That was years where the Mac barely changed, but a stylistic accessory - perhaps due to its non-computer nature - changed dramatically.

I've heard many people cry "but the iPhone isn't a computer" - perhaps from a development perspective we should be looking at the iPhone as a computer. Maybe it doesn't have user-configurable RAM, but it sports a computer OS, with computer level restraints. In the last 2 years, we've seen extremely little difference in the 4 iterations of Touch devices (2 iPhones, 2 iPod Touches), and if anything the lines between the two are becoming thinner from a looks perspective, and a features perspective (with bluetooth, speaker, side volume switches etc).

So when we theorize about where the next lot of devices are going, perhaps we should look at what is important from a computer perspective, and not from a "wow thats different" looks perspective. That may include CPU and GPU bumps, RAM increases, and screen tech.

BTW, I'm glad to see the focus of this thread has remained on the iPhone's internal specs, and hope that this is a sign of things to come.
post #38 of 39
'Strangely, the 3rd slide from here says that ARM received money from Apple early on..... Interesting, I didnt know that'

Yes that is correct Arm became 'Advanced RISC Machines' when Apple financed it late 80s so that it could become an independent company. Prior to that it had been 'Acorn RISC Machines' effectively the research labs of Acorn (of BBC computer fame) a prime British personal computer maker of the 80s which developed the technology partly from work carried out at Manchester University. Apple wanted it primarily for use in the Newton. In fact it was not that many years ago that Apple sold its remaining shares in the company.
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

I think that's the million dollar question.

Custom design is nice but the expense of chip design pretty much means a custom design has got to be significantly better than "off the shelf"

Is Apple going to be able to add value features that no one else can ape (albeit at lower quality) with turnkey SoC?

I know not enough about design nor can I even postulate on what unique features Apple could add. I guess that's what is going to make the mobile market for Apple exciting again. We're back to that "anything can happen" with Apple products.

Let the speculation begin!

I think the answer is pretty easy...just think of Amiga's custom chips. They added a lot of value and performance to those computers without impairing the use of standard MOBO's or chipsets. Apple is gonna adopt the same strategy for Macs, which will ensure: 1)higher performance; 2)specific features; and 3)protection against unauthorized use of OS X.
iMac Intel 27" Core i7 3.4, 16GB RAM, 120GB SSD + 1TB HD + 4TB RAID 1+0, Nuforce Icon HDP, OS X 10.9.1; iPad Air 64GB; iPhone 5 32GB; iPod Classic; iPod Nano 4G; Apple TV 2.
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iMac Intel 27" Core i7 3.4, 16GB RAM, 120GB SSD + 1TB HD + 4TB RAID 1+0, Nuforce Icon HDP, OS X 10.9.1; iPad Air 64GB; iPhone 5 32GB; iPod Classic; iPod Nano 4G; Apple TV 2.
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