Apple's A8 SoC reportedly capable of 4K video output, may pave way for ultra high-resolution Apple T

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2014
According to a report on Friday, Apple's latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models are able to play back 4K video thanks to the powerful A8 system-on-chip, suggesting a future Apple TV model equipped with the same silicon would offer support for ultra high definition programming.




During testing of its media file conversion app WALTR, developer Softorino discovered Apple's A8 processor can play back 4K videos on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, reports TUAW.

At this point, the "hidden" capability can be viewed as more of a technical accomplishment than a useful feature, as Apple's iPhone 6 models don't have the pixel density to benefit from all that additional data. Branded as "Retina HD displays," the panel 4.7-inch iPhone 6 panel boasts a resolution of 1,334-by-750 pixels, while the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus packs in 1,920-by-1,080 pixels good for full HD viewing.

Since 4K provides 3,840-by-2,160 pixels of visual data, a lot of detail would be lost reproducing video on Apple's current hardware. Still, the ability to play back 4K on iPhone is a nice feature to have as media slowly moves to ultra high resolution content.

Perhaps more interesting are future A8 applications, specifically Apple TV. The company's set-top box is overdue for revision and currently squeezes out 1080p video using Apple's generations-old A5 SoC. With an A8 brain, along with proper signal processing and possibly onboard storage, it is feasible that Apple's next-gen device could be a 4K content server.

Apple already operates its own content delivery network, activated in July and subsequently used to roll out iOS 8 in September, while a new 4K option from Netflix 4K proved existing infrastructure can cope with high bandwidth overhead.

The question, then, becomes one of content, as 4K is still in its infancy and nowhere near being ubiquitous. Apple TV could change that. Currently, no physical format exists to carry 4K to consumers, prompting content providers like Sony -- which also ships 4K UHDTVs -- to whip up their own bespoke server solutions. If iTunes were to push 4K video at moderate prices, the format could potentially see wide adoption, which would lead to commoditization and more available content. These are, admittedly, a lot of "ifs."

As seen by the most recent iMac with 5K Retina display, however, Apple is diving headfirst into high resolution content creation and consumption. The living room may be the next logical step in Apple's product progression. Rumors of a next-generation Apple TV ran rampant earlier this year, but things died down after a report in July poured cold water on the prospect of new hardware, saying stubborn cable companies unwilling to budge on content licensing are to blame for delaying launch.

Most recently, Apple TV received a new firmware build that enables remote access for apps and hardware taking advantage of the iOS 8 HomeKit framework.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 77
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,448member
    And where would the content come from? And where's the infrastructure to support downloading files of that size?
  • Reply 2 of 77

    Maybe Apple should buy Netflix?

  • Reply 3 of 77
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,652member

    I fail to see what the big deal this 4K video hype is.  We've had 1080p for years and as far as I'm concerned, that is still in its infancy, especially where TV cable goes.  Comcast (for example) advertises HD-level channels, yet the quality is so bad due to video-compression.



    There are no 4K TV sets, and for most folks a 4K-capable monitor is still just a dream.  There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors.

     

    Sounds to me like the only folks wanting 4K are the manufacturers of storage devices that will be needed by those that feel the need to record their cute kitten videos.

  • Reply 4 of 77
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Not too much 4K content yet. No hurry to push out a 4K-capable Apple TV.

    On the other hand, the top of the line GoPro captures 4K video right now.
    So 4K does exist. And I think the cable / satellite companies might become
    bandwidth-constrained as they try to roll out 4K content.
    The time is (almost) right to disrupt them.
  • Reply 5 of 77
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,050member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post



    And where would the content come from? And where's the infrastructure to support downloading files of that size?

    High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) is a video compression standard, a successor to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding), that was jointly developed by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) as ISO/IEC 23008-2 MPEG-H Part 2 and ITU-T H.265.

     

    HEVC is said to double the data compression ratio compared to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC at the same level of video quality. It can alternatively be used to provide substantially improved video quality at the same bit rate. It can support 8K UHD and resolutions up to 8192x4320.

    ----

     

    I guess it depends on what they mean by same level of video quality when UHDTV contains 4x the pixel data as HDTV. You're right, however, when trying to figure out which ISP is going to deliver movies that are probably at least twice the size of current 1080p. Comcast is supposedly doubling it's speed at all levels and can probably go faster if they wanted to. The fiber-based systems can exceed Comcast's normal speeds but fiber has to be installed in many places where it will cost a bundle. We'll have to see what happens. Of course the Net Neutrality fiasco will make sure consumers pay more for whatever we get.

  • Reply 6 of 77

    Many parts of the UK now have sufficient bandwidth to support 4K streaming - about 75% of the country has (or very shortly will have) broadband speeds in excess of 50Mbps: I live in a backwater market town of about 9000 people and I get about 65-70Mbps, which is easily enough for a 4K Netflix stream.

     

    Backhaul will obviously be important, but at least on the face of it, there's a pretty good opportunity for 4K in this country.

     

    Now if only 4K TVs weren't so eye-wateringly expensive here.

  • Reply 7 of 77
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,050member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    There are no 4K TV sets, and for most folks a 4K-capable monitor is still just a dream.  There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors.

     


    Actually there are UHDTV TV sets available. This is the consumer resolution, not true 4K but this is what TV manufacturers will sell. Actually, H.265 is capable of handling up to 8K video and it's pretty compressed, which means the normal person won't see the difference. As far as content, it's coming but I don't believe BlueRay really took off even though it's hard to find a non-BlueRay DVD player anymore. The industry is pushing whatever they want to based on specs.

  • Reply 8 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,391member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mac_128 View Post



    And where would the content come from? And where's the infrastructure to support downloading files of that size?

     

    Initially, the content would be streamed from the Internet.

     

    YouTube hosts 4K video already. Of course, porn sites have been serving up 4K content for a while. 

     

    The major content providers could provide 4K content via the Internet even though OTA/cable/satellite TV currently can't handle it. Movies, TV shows, sports, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, etc. could all be credible candidates as 4K content. Services like Netflix or the iTunes Store can offer streaming 4K content.

     

    Note that much of the industrialized world has broadband connections that blow doors on what US consumers are used to. Americans pay more for far less when it comes to broadband Internet. Simply appalling. 

     

    I'm not convinced that there will be much 4K content available on physical media (specifically optical discs).

  • Reply 9 of 77
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

    I fail to see what the big deal this 4K video hype is.  We've had 1080p for years and as far as I'm concerned, that is still in its infancy, especially where TV cable goes.  Comest (for example) advertises HD-level channels, yet the quality is so bad due to video-compression.

     

    Valid point. PC games are just now gaining 4K capability, and console games won’t have 4K until after 2020. However...

     

    There are no 4K TV sets


     

    There are plenty of them. Where have you been?

     

    There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors. 


     

    True.

     

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

    Actually, H.265 is capable of handling up to 8K video and it's pretty compressed, which means the normal person won't see the difference.

     

    I keep being blown away by H.265 on my iPhone 6.

     

    “My FaceTime call was HOW long? And it only used THAT much data?!”

     

  • Reply 10 of 77
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,748member
    FWIW there are several smartphones that offer 4K video recording.
    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Smartphones-with-4K-video-recording---just-how-many-of-them-are-there_id61911

    Several 4K display smartphones will be appearing next year according to both Qualcomm and Display Search. Do we need 'em? Probably not.
  • Reply 11 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    FWIW there are several smartphones that offer 4K video recording.

    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Smartphones-with-4K-video-recording---just-how-many-of-them-are-there_id61911



    Several 4K display smartphones will be appearing next year according to both Qualcomm and Display Search. Do we need 'em? Probably not.



    If the camera improvements in the coming 6S are as serious as have been rumored, 4K video might be possible with the iPhone.

     

    Unless you have a 16GB model, of course. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

     

    Personally, I have a 720p Bravia that I refuse to get rid of. I need all the inputs it has.

     

    Unless there's a modern TV with:

    2 Component

    2 Composite (not shared with the Component jacks)

    2 HDMI

    Coaxial

    VGA

    (the S-video port, I don't use)

     

    then I won't be buying a new TV.

  • Reply 12 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,391member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    There are no 4K TV sets, and for most folks a 4K-capable monitor is still just a dream.  There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors.


    Oh, look, Best Buy lists 47 products under the "4K TV and Ultra HD TVs" category.

  • Reply 13 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    I fail to see what the big deal this 4K video hype is.  We've had 1080p for years and as far as I'm concerned, that is still in its infancy, especially where TV cable goes.  Comest (for example) advertises HD-level channels, yet the quality is so bad due to video-compression.



    There are no 4K TV sets, and for most folks a 4K-capable monitor is still just a dream.  There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors.

     

    Sounds to me like the only folks wanting 4K are the manufacturers of storage devices that will be needed by those that feel the need to record their cute kitten videos.




    Yeah, I'd prefer high quality (near lossless) 1080P content to highly compressed 4K.

  • Reply 14 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,391member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    Personally, I have a 720p Bravia that I refuse to get rid of. I need all the inputs it has.

     

    Unless there's a modern TV with:

    2 Component

    2 Composite (not shared with the Component jacks)

    2 HDMI

    Coaxial

    VGA

    (the S-video port, I don't use)

     

    then I won't be buying a new TV.




    You'll probably never buy another TV.

     

    Most of the analog inputs are going away. Today, A/V receivers take the inputs, output to a TV (basically a dumb monitor). 4K passthrough has been around for a couple of years now on A/V receivers.

  • Reply 15 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

     

    I fail to see what the big deal this 4K video hype is.  We've had 1080p for years and as far as I'm concerned, that is still in its infancy, especially where TV cable goes.  Comest (for example) advertises HD-level channels, yet the quality is so bad due to video-compression.



    There are no 4K TV sets, and for most folks a 4K-capable monitor is still just a dream.  There is absolutely no infrastructure out there (in the US) capable of supporting the scale necessary to stream all that data to millions of users, providing they can even view it on their TV's/Monitors.

     

    Sounds to me like the only folks wanting 4K are the manufacturers of storage devices that will be needed by those that feel the need to record their cute kitten videos.




    yeah I'm in no rush to see the makeup on actors, either. 1080p is fine for me. hell my ATV is still the 720p model.

  • Reply 16 of 77
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mpantone View Post

     



    You'll probably never buy another TV.

     

    Most of the analog inputs are going away. Today, A/V receivers take the inputs, output to a TV (basically a dumb monitor). 4K passthrough has been around for a couple of years now on A/V receivers.




    Probably. I need at least one Composite input for my LaserDisc player.

     

    Unless Disney releases the unedited versions of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray.

     

    Even then I'll still probably keep the LD around.

  • Reply 17 of 77
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

    I need at least one Composite input for my LaserDisc player. Unless Disney releases the unedited versions of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray.

     

    Are you me? I think you’re me. 8-)

  • Reply 18 of 77
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    Are you me? I think you’re me. 8-)


    I don't think so. But if being you means you loathe the edits Lucas made to the movies, than I guess I'm you. <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

     

    I still need to get the Faces edition of ROTJ, I only have the "Special Widescreen Edition". The other two are Faces editions though.

  • Reply 19 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,391member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by VL-Tone View Post

     

    Yeah, I'd prefer high quality (near lossless) 1080P content to highly compressed 4K.




    It depends on the content type. Some content would be fine with highly compressed Ultra HD. Other stuff would benefit from lower resolutions but with less compression and/or higher refresh rates.

     

    The ATSC standard only handles 1080i for broadcast (OTA) transmissions. That's why a lot of sports programs are transmitted in 720p (progressive scan) versus 1080i (interlaced video). I'd love to see sports in 1080p at higher refresh rates (like 120Hz).

     

    Prerecorded material will work better for higher compression since extra time can be used during the encoding process. The problem is live content (again sports, etc.) because the content needs to be quickly encoded on the fly.

  • Reply 20 of 77
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,391member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

     

    Probably. I need at least one Composite input for my LaserDisc player.

     

    Unless Disney releases the unedited versions of the Original Trilogy on Blu-ray.

     

    Even then I'll still probably keep the LD around.




    That's okay.

     

    I have a tube amplifier that only has RCA inputs, takes five minutes to warm up, and acts as a small space heater for my bedroom. It doesn't even have a remote control, I have to walk over to it to adjust the volume. Plus, I have to keep a spare set of tubes handy.

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