Steve Jobs: it's time we design our own iPhone and iPod chips

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Comments

  • Reply 21 of 95
    hudson1hudson1 Posts: 800member
    I'm quite the ignorant one in this subject (someone will step in to help me, I'm sure) but isn't PA Semi technology essentially PowerPC? There must be a motive for Apple doing these three things:



    1) Move Macintosh OS X away from PowerPC (10.6)

    2) Migrate iPhone/iPod toward OS X

    3) Adopt PA Semi (PowerPC?) hardware technology in iPhone/iPod



    Does this strike anyone else as a bit odd? I'm sure there must be many other elements that I don't see that are key to what Apple is doing.
  • Reply 22 of 95
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by retroneo View Post


    Atom at 32nm won't even touch an ARM Cortex-A8 let alone a Cortex-A9



    Atom is in-order, A9 is out-of-order.



    Think of an A9 at 32nm... Hmmm



    That's good to know. I suspect that if Apple fab their own chips for the iPhone they may be a node behind, so a comparison between a 45nm RISC and a 32nm Atom will be important.
  • Reply 23 of 95
    virgil-tb2virgil-tb2 Posts: 1,416member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by fpsanders View Post


    That could be good, but does it also mean that Apple is going to move away from further compatibility with other devices out there?



    This would be a good thing IMO. Software compatibility is necessary, hardware compatibility leads to the lowest common denominator usually.



    I would ignore the statement that PA Semi is going to be designing just for the mobile products also. Apple has always used custom chips on the MB of its computers and has already announced plans in the area of using built in hardware accelerators and decoders like for the H.264 standard etc.and I would expect them to continue.



    Differentiation and customisation is what it's about and it will allow Apple to always be faster than any clone machine out there.
  • Reply 24 of 95
    aegisdesignaegisdesign Posts: 2,914member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hudson1 View Post


    I'm quite the ignorant one in this subject (someone will step in to help me, I'm sure) but isn't PA Semi technology essentially PowerPC? There must be a motive for Apple doing these three things:



    1) Move Macintosh OS X away from PowerPC (10.6)

    2) Migrate iPhone/iPod toward OS X

    3) Adopt PA Semi (PowerPC?) hardware technology in iPhone/iPod



    Does this strike anyone else as a bit odd? I'm sure there must be many other elements that I don't see that are key to what Apple is doing.



    Ignore PA Semi's past largely.



    What Apple wanted them for was there skill in creating low power 'System-On-A-Chip' chips. This is also what Samsung and most of the ARM licencees do also. They take the core of the ARM CPU and add on ancillary circuits to create a single chip that has the ARM core (or 2 perhaps), a memory controller, a GPU perhaps (eg PowerVR) and perhaps cache.



    Sticking it all in one chip makes it more efficient.



    PA Semi aren't (at least I'd guess not) designing new ARM cores. That's what ARM do. They could perhaps but it seems unlikely given ARM's newest cores.
  • Reply 25 of 95
    ivladivlad Posts: 740member
    Im glad that Apple is doing this. They too nervous about Intel telling all the secrets!



    Apple does need to make its own hardware and chips. But at the same time this will make it little bit more expensive to make. Intel's monopoly will not last for long. There need to be many chip makers that move the whole technology faster and faster, and so Apple is taking this shot.



    Apple has very talented people and I am sure they will make great products in the future. Apple just wants to be independent and not rely on other hardware makers.
  • Reply 26 of 95
    PA Semi has expertise in the development of next generation, low power chips derived from previous chips. Their most famous one is the PWRficient line of PPC derivatives. PA Semi has not, and does not, develop chips from scratch. They take current designs and make them better -- both in capability and power efficiency. That is the capability Apple bought. That is the capability Apple will use. In the PPC example they (PA Semi) took the very power hungry IBM design (remember Apple's water cooled PowerMacs?) and came up with an even more capable, low power version. Clearly, Apple thinks they can do it again with other chips.



    Which chip(s) will Apple have the PA Semi team evolve? Atom? Samsung's SOC? ARM? (Remember Apple once owned a very large piece of ARM. Maybe they still have certain rights to the designs. Who knows?)
  • Reply 27 of 95
    mh71mh71 Posts: 44member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadowself View Post


    PA Semi has expertise in the development of next generation, low power chips derived from previous chips. Their most famous one is the PWRficient line of PPC derivatives. PA Semi has not, and does not, develop chips from scratch. They take current designs and make them better -- both in capability and power efficiency. That is the capability Apple bought. That is the capability Apple will use. In the PPC example they (PA Semi) took the very power hungry IBM design (remember Apple's water cooled PowerMacs?) and came up with an even more capable, low power version. Clearly, Apple thinks they can do it again with other chips.



    Which chip(s) will Apple have the PA Semi team evolve? Atom? Samsung's SOC? ARM? (Remember Apple once owned a very large piece of ARM. Maybe they still have certain rights to the designs. Who knows?)



    This is I guess what I don't understand. Since Apple is going all intel (perhaps with snow leopard), one would guess they would want an X86 foundation. That means a big fat licence fee to intel.



    I'm sure Intel would much rather they use atom, but they will still make a bundle off the deal. First, for the licence fee and then for the fabs.
  • Reply 28 of 95
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    If there's a ray of hope for chip makers like Samsung and Intel, it's that Apple will still need to rely on a third party to manufacture the chips it develops on its own, given that PA Semi doesn't own a fabrication facility. That's of course assuming Jobs and Co. don't have a plan brewing to tackle that problem as well.



    Meh. Fat chance Apple will go down that route. Fabrication plants are hugely expensive to build. And then you have to sink $1-2 Billion into them every few years to re-fit them for the next technology shrink. No, Apple will do what ARM does (very successfully) they'll design in-house, then outsource the fabrication work to someone who has enough volume through their fab plants to keep the costs down.
  • Reply 29 of 95
    backtomacbacktomac Posts: 4,579member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mh71 View Post


    This is I guess what I don't understand. Since Apple is going all intel (perhaps with snow leopard), one would guess they would want an X86 foundation. That means a big fat licence fee to intel.



    I'm sure Intel would much rather they use atom, but they will still make a bundle off the deal. First, for the licence fee and then for the fabs.



    I think you're assuming that PA Semi can do custom x86 chip design. That is far from certain. They can do custom RISC design. That is their history. It is more likely that Apple plan to use custom RISC/ARM chips with customization given PA Semi history.



    Also uncertain and perhaps unlikely is Intel's willingness to to fab custom chips for proprietary use. Have they done this before?
  • Reply 30 of 95
    What could Apple possibly do on it's own that the larger chip makers couldn't duplicate? My problem now is that my brain might be too weak to understand what Apple has in mind. Ultra-low power processors is one possibility. Attempting to fit whole iPhone and iPod circuits on a single chip? Apple really seems to be trying to leave the smartphone industry in the dust. RIM keeps saying they have nothing to worry about from the iPhone. RIM's people must have balls of steel.
  • Reply 31 of 95
    the cool gutthe cool gut Posts: 1,714member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    I'm not sure Intel will want to fab a chip that competes with one of their products even though it would only be used by Apple.



    You might be right ... if Steve asks nicely, maybe IBM will do it
  • Reply 32 of 95
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    If there's a ray of hope for chip makers like Samsung and Intel, it's that Apple will still need to rely on a third party to manufacture the chips it develops on its own, given that PA Semi doesn't own a fabrication facility. That's of course assuming Jobs and Co. don't have a plan brewing to tackle that problem as well.











    How about this:



    They build a manufacturing plant in America and allows Americans to finally build the chips?



    Crazy, I know.
  • Reply 33 of 95
    datamodeldatamodel Posts: 126member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mh71 View Post


    This is I guess what I don't understand. Since Apple is going all intel (perhaps with snow leopard), one would guess they would want an X86 foundation. That means a big fat licence fee to intel.



    I'm sure Intel would much rather they use atom, but they will still make a bundle off the deal. First, for the licence fee and then for the fabs.



    I don't see it myself. OSX presently runs on Intel, PPC and ARM, and internal versions have run on Intel for a long long time IIRC.



    I would imagine the iPhone/iPod will run whichever core is best at the time, and they'd maintain OSX on several platforms internally. So, probably an ARM based SOC, but with additional (patented) custom circuitry to let the Apple gear do cool stuff that's prohibitively hard/costly to clone.



    As for what that cool new stuff is, that's where the juicy speculation begins...



    Cheers,



    Martin.
  • Reply 34 of 95
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,590member
    PA Semi are not a fab plant. Apple bought them for their IP and their low power chip design. Apple already work with intel on designs/requirements for chips at present. (the iMac 3.06Ghz chip is custom for Apple.)



    This gives Apple space to create their own chip designs and have them made by intel or whomever they wish. They will also be able to license the chip design onto intel or other manufacturers and even the US Army.



    This is a wise move and will hardly dent their relationship with intel.
  • Reply 35 of 95
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    Apple needs to design their products with custom chips that no one else has access to. This will make it harder to duplicate their features.



    Duplicating features isn't that hard. Not having access to the same specific components means little, except for that last little bit of refinement which the competitors won't have anyway. Everything that differentiates the iPhone isn't directly about features anyway, it's the software and a good amount of fore-thought on how to make it easier to use them.
  • Reply 36 of 95
    mh71mh71 Posts: 44member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by backtomac View Post


    I think you're assuming that PA Semi can do custom x86 chip design. That is far from certain. They can do custom RISC design. That is their history. It is more likely that Apple plan to use custom RISC/ARM chips with customization given PA Semi history.



    Also uncertain and perhaps unlikely is Intel's willingness to to fab custom chips for proprietary use. Have they done this before?



    You're right that I don't much about what I'm saying. But considering how complex the iphone is getting together with the big push towards a unified/cleaner platform, I just think that they are eying up an x86 derivative.



    As far as intel goes, I think they see the handwriting on the wall that they are going to have to be in bed with Steve for the next 10 years. Apple's market share is going way up, especially with laptops (and iMacs are just laptops too). It could be potentially devestating for them if Steve starts cheating on them with AMD. Imagine what a more power and heat efficient AMD would do with Intels other customers. I just think Intel will need to be more open minded about their relationship if Apple comes asking.
  • Reply 37 of 95
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    PA Semi are not a fab plant. Apple bought them for their IP and their low power chip design. Apple already work with intel on designs/requirements for chips at present. (the iMac 3.06Ghz chip is custom for Apple.)



    Is it really a custom chip, or is it just another power & speed grade?
  • Reply 38 of 95
    jwdawsojwdawso Posts: 355member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post


    How long down the road will it be before any Apple / PA Semi designed chips show up in an iPhone or other device, but mainly iPhone? The next generation iPhone??



    Impossible for outsiders to know. However, it's possible that PA was already designing for Apple, and that the efforts were going so well that Apple decided to buy PA.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post


    Does anyone think Apple will put out an iPhone with this "inhouse" design chip as soon as it's developed and tested and is good to go for fabrication even if it's production run and stockpiling of inventory for eventual distribution does not match the iPhone's birthday. That is, will the next generation iPhone come out sooner (before the iPhone's "birthday") or later (wait for the iPhone anniversary to launch newer generation iPhone with Apple & PA Semi's newly designed chip?



    I'm curious as to what others are thinking?



    Apple is probably designing a family of iPhones, and their release dates will correspond to when they are ready, not a anniversary. In the case of the 3G iPhone, the key component appears to be the optimized 3G chips. I think that more was influential on the release data, not the anniversary.
  • Reply 39 of 95
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,301member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    RIM keeps saying they have nothing to worry about from the iPhone. RIM's people must have balls of steel.



    ...and brains of mush. Steve, ever the maverick, is doing exactly what they need to do to totally "own" their products, from the ground up.
  • Reply 40 of 95
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,301member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Fleshman03 View Post


    How about this:



    They build a manufacturing plant in America and allows Americans to finally build the chips?



    Crazy, I know.



    They won't be manufacturing the chips, they'll be designing them and future-proofing them for Apple products. They aren't in the chip-making business.
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