Apple partner Qualcomm pans iPhone 5s A7 CPU as 'gimmick,' yet hints at own 64-bit chip

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A senior vice president for Apple supplier Qualcomm says the 64-bit A7 chip in Apple's iPhone 5s is more a marketing gimmick than a development that will lead to real consumer benefits, but at the same time appeared to hint that the chip maker is planning a future 64-bit processor of its own.



"I know there's a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7," said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, in an interview with Techworld. "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."

Apple has played up the possibilities inherent with a 64-bit mobile processor, saying that 64-bit apps "almost always" run better on such architecture. Such claims, though, have been met with skepticism from many in the tech industry, with Chandrasekher being the latest among those.

The Qualcomm VP pointed out that 64-bit processors are most useful in addressing memory quantities above 4GB, whereas the iPhone 5s has only 1 gigabyte of RAM. Consumer performance, Chandrasekher noted, would be largely unaffected, as the use cases most in need of 64-bit are large, server-class applications.

At the same time, though, Chandrasekher seemed to hint that Qualcomm ? which supplies the LTE chips used inside Apple's mobile devices ? would itself be rolling out a 64-bit mobile processor at some point in the future.

"From an engineering efficiency standpoint it just makes sense to do that," Chandrasekher said. "Particularly the OS guys will want it at some point in time."

Google's Android platform is also rumored to be moving to a 64-bit build in the future, though when exactly that might happen is unknown. Android is based on Linux, and some observers note that there shouldn't be any special development process necessary to tweak the platform to handle 64-bit processing power. Samsung ? Apple's chief rival and the largest player in the Android segment ? has already promised 64-bit chips for next year's line of flagship devices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 172
    Quote:

    The Qualcomm VP pointed out that 64-bit processors are most useful in addressing memory quantities above 4GB, whereas the iPhone 5s has only 1 gigabyte of RAM. 


     

    The general-purpose registers being double-width is usually far more useful especially for applications that require lots of data accesses. Not to mention that ARMv8 brings about improved SIMD, etc. No doubt when all these other people come out with their own ARMv8 based cores they will yell from the rooftops about how great and wonderful they are, but they simply can't give Apple any credit for getting there first so it must be downplayed and mocked as not being useful.

  • Reply 2 of 172
    Sounds like a bit of sour grapes. It only suggests that companies are behind on the curve and that Apple has a huge head start.
  • Reply 3 of 172
    allenbfallenbf Posts: 993member
    So, Apple puts in a 64 bit chip, building for the future, and it's panned as "gimmicky." Samsung cheats on benchmarking scores and it's a "feature."

    Yeah, I think I understand.
  • Reply 4 of 172
    It almost sound as envy!
  • Reply 5 of 172
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,073member
    Do these guys ever check with corporate before opening their mouths? Apple is a huge Qualcomm customer.
  • Reply 6 of 172
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,347member
    So how long before this guy's comments come back to haunt him? There must be a great list of these anti Apple quotes somewhere that are ROFL-able in hindsight. Where's Soli when you need him?
  • Reply 7 of 172
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 324member
    Wah wah wah!! Someone's jealous.
  • Reply 8 of 172
    richlrichl Posts: 2,213member

    Mike Ash wrote a great piece on why the A7 is important.

  • Reply 9 of 172

    Obviously Chandrasekher has to downplay the competition, but he couldn't be more wrong. For those who know a little about computer architecture, the following is a great breakdown of the new A7.

     

    http://www.mikeash.com/pyblog/friday-qa-2013-09-27-arm64-and-you.html

     

    Also, beyond just the chip improvements, Apple was able to take advantage of the extra bits in a pointer to help speed up the Objective-C runtime.

  • Reply 10 of 172
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    translation: "Apple just kicked out butts, we're up sh*t creek without a paddle, and don't know WTF to do."
  • Reply 11 of 172

    "At the same time, though, Chandrasekher seemed to hint that Qualcomm ? which supplies the LTE chips used inside Apple's mobile devices ? would itself be rolling out a 64-bit mobile processor at some point in the future.

     

    'From an engineering efficiency standpoint it just makes sense to do that," Chandrasekher said. "Particularly the OS guys will want it at some point in time.' "

     

    He lost me. It's a gimmick "but" from an engineering efficiency standpoint it just makes sense to do it.

     

    Which is it... a gimmick or a sensible thing to do?

  • Reply 12 of 172

    Hmm, this sounds familiar. Sort of like how Samsung tried to downplay the Retina Display in the iPhone 4.

    Quote:


    According to a Samsung spokesperson, the high-res retina display on the iPhone 4 offers only a 3 to 5 percent advantage in sharpness over its own Galaxy S Super AMOLED screen, but sucks down a wasteful 30 percent more power. Moreover, Samsung believes its screens offer better viewing angles and contrast, and concludes by saying that "structurally, IPS LCD technology cannot catch up with AM-OLED display technology."


  • Reply 13 of 172
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Alfiejr View Post



    translation: "Apple just kicked out butts, we're up sh*t creek without a paddle, and don't know WTF to do."

     

    Love it! 

  • Reply 14 of 172
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MikeJones View Post

     

     

    The general-purpose registers being double-width is usually far more useful especially for applications that require lots of data accesses. Not to mention that ARMv8 brings about improved SIMD, etc. No doubt when all these other people come out with their own ARMv8 based cores they will yell from the rooftops about how great and wonderful they are, but they simply can't give Apple any credit for getting there first so it must be downplayed and mocked as not being useful.


     

    I feel the same way. It is as when AMD introduced the first 64bit desktop processor, everyone said it was not needed until they had their own. 

     

    Quote:


     "I know there's a lot of noise because Apple did [64-bit] on their A7," said Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Qualcomm, in aninterview with Techworld. "I think they are doing a marketing gimmick. There's zero benefit a consumer gets from that."


     

    Zero benefits? This coming from a processor manufacturer? His statement is more gimmick than really informative. 

  • Reply 15 of 172
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post



    So how long before this guy's comments come back to haunt him? There must be a great list of these anti Apple quotes somewhere that are ROFL-able in hindsight. Where's Soli when you need him?

     

    Probably as quick as mine did when I said Apple would never go back to plastic :embarrass 

  • Reply 16 of 172
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,228moderator
    mikejones wrote: »
    The general-purpose registers being double-width is usually far more useful especially for applications that require lots of data accesses. Not to mention that ARMv8 brings about improved SIMD, etc.

    Anandtech did some benchmark tests showing the performance differences:

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/7335/the-iphone-5s-review/4

    Some features of the new architecture show massive improvements. 64-bit on its own offers smaller gains but it's still essentially free performance. A 50% gain in some cases is worthwhile.

    The Infinity Blade devs said they saw improvements beyond the raw compute power:

    http://venturebeat.com/2013/09/12/more-power-what-iphone-5ss-64-bit-processor-means-for-gaming/

    "“The main thing that 64-bit processors let you do is address a lot of memory — more than 2 gigs or more than 4 gigs depending on your operating system,” Braid developer Jonathan Blow told GamesBeat. ”Last I checked, iOS kills programs when they start eating way less [than 2GB of memory], so from that standpoint it doesn’t help. Maybe it will in the future.”

    Blow gave a potential example where Apple could add full virtual memory to iOS, which is a process where the operating system temporarily treats storage space as RAM. The 64-bit processor would enable the iPhone 5S (and future devices) to compute more of that data all at once.

    “[The new processor] is a good thing for developers, but probably more in the long-term rather than the short-term,” said Blow. So, the memory bonuses — which are probably coming at some point — won’t have much of an impact on the iPhone 5S. The 64-bit processor should have an immediate positive effect, however, on the speed of iOS and software running on the system.

    “It’s a little bit of an overkill for where we’re at right now,” Chair co-founder Geremy Mustard told GamesBeat. “But it really helps with load times. That’s for games and for every app. It’s really amazing how smooth the operating system feels because it is running on this chip.”

    “Apple showed a chart that says the new A7 chip is two times the raw horsepower of the A6 that was in the iPhone 5,” said Mustard. “We’re actually seeing even greater gains because the 64-bit processor is running instructions even more efficiently. We’re actually seeing our load times increase five times on iPhone 5S. It feels fantastic. It loads almost instantly.”

    Really, as with anything you find in a spec sheet, a “64-bit processor” only means something if it actually improves the end-user performance. According to guys like Mustard and Blow, the iPhone 5S’s new guts will do exactly that in the near and long-term."
  • Reply 17 of 172

    The a7 is fantastic.

     

    Do we know what this means? Yes, it means Apple had to (only god knows why) limit the RAM to 1gb so iOS 9 doesn't run that great on the 5s.

    Seriously Apple, what the hell? There's 0 reason for it.

     

    By far the best tech company of all time... yet, on things like RAM on iDevices and the screen on the macbook air, lack of keyboard lights on the 2010 air, they are pathetic.

    They have 150 billion staying still. Don't know how to spend it? there's no need for it... Just lower your margins a little by increasing value on devices.

     

    Just because all of the other OEMs are pathetic on the high end, it doesn't mean that Apple shouldn't be pushing forward.

     

    p.s: forgot about memory on idevices. still 16gb on a 700€ phone? please.

  • Reply 18 of 172
    But but but Android is already practically basically virtually essentially more-or-less 64-bit!!! Android wins again!!!
  • Reply 19 of 172
    gwmacgwmac Posts: 1,797member

    While the Qualcomm guys are running their mouths I wish they would tell us what the hell happened to their RF360 Front End that was rumored to go into the iPhone 5s. I don't know if they had problems with production or something else but it is very disappointing these were not included since it would have meant one iPhone model for each color and storage size instead of 4 or 5 like they must produce now. It also would have meant that some carriers would not have been left out in the cold in terms of not supporting all the bands on their network like Sprint and several other carriers in other countries were done this round by using an older front end solution. None of the 2.5Ghz acquired from Clearwire currently being repurposed for both voice and LTE will be supported on the 5s. Not a big deal now since it still is a relatively small footprint but within a few more months that will be a severe limitation. 

     

    All I see is this press release from February. So while you are running your mouths criticizing Apple for making a 64-bit how about you look in the mirror and tell us why you promised the RF360 would be shipping by now and failed to deliver. 

     

    http://www.qualcomm.com/media/releases/2013/02/21/qualcomm-rf360-front-end-solution-enables-single-global-lte-design-next

  • Reply 20 of 172
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pedromartins View Post

     

    The a7 is fantastic.

     

    Do we know what this means? Yes, it means Apple had to (only god knows why) limit the RAM to 1gb so iOS 9 doesn't run that great on the 5s.

    Seriously Apple, what the hell? There's 0 reason for it.


    The iPhone 5s only has 1GB of RAM because it isn't RAM hungry like Android phones and doesn't need the extra RAM. What exactly are you running on a 5s that truly needs more than the 1GB of RAM available? If you're running something on your 5s that needs more than 1 GB of RAM it's likely not really best run on a phone.

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