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MacRumors
Jan 5, 2010, 03:28 PM
http://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogo.gif (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/05/arm-cortex-a9-performance-demo-likely-chip-to-power-islate-and-future-iphones/)

As CES kicks off, one technology we've been hoping to hear more about is the status of the ARM Cortex A9 processor. Apple's iPhone as well as many of its competitors including the just released Nexus One (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/05/google-launches-nexus-one-t-mobile-plan-available-now-verizon-and-vodafone-coming-soon/) currently utilize ARM processors based on the Cortex A8 design. The Cortex A9 represents the next generation which supports multi-core designs. The Cortex A9 multi-core processors are expected to scale beyond 2 GHz while drawing less than 0.25 W of power per CPU.

ARM's designs have always been focused on the mobile space, so low power has always been a major focus. This high performance-to-power ratio is also carried through with the upcoming Cortex A9 designs and is said to fare very well (http://netbooked.net/blog/arm-vs-atom-size-vs-power-vs-performance/) compared to Intel's Atom processor.

ARM just posted this side-by-side performance video comparing a 1.6GHz Atom netbook vs. a Cortex A9 development board.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4W6lVQl3QA

Browsing performance is roughly the same, though the Cortex A9 is revealed to be running at only 500MHz compared to the 1.6GHz of the Atom processor. While these are rather subjective benchmarks, it reminds us that the Cortex A9 is an attractive alternative to Intel's processors in the mobile space.

Apple is believed to be an ARM licensee and is leveraging the expertise of P.A. Semi to develop their own processors for upcoming devices including iPhone and Tablet projects. Apple has been said to be working on multi-core processors for their next generation iPhones and the Cortex A9 is the natural fit.

The Cortex A9 would be a particularly good fit for the rumored Apple Tablet, as such a device is seemingly positioning itself between a mobile phone and notebook. Such a device would likely be tasked with more processor intensive tasks and be priced against Atom powered netbooks.


Article Link: ARM Cortex A9 Performance Demo - Likely Chip to Power iSlate and Future iPhones (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/05/arm-cortex-a9-performance-demo-likely-chip-to-power-islate-and-future-iphones/)



Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 03:32 PM
It still isn't x86 though.

arn
Jan 5, 2010, 03:33 PM
It still isn't x86 though.

Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arn

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 03:35 PM
Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arnI still run into a few people that are planning to install Windows on their iSlate. I do have to break it to them that it's more than like ARM and no good comes from me telling them.

flopticalcube
Jan 5, 2010, 03:36 PM
Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arn
I'm afraid many were, at least at $1000 a pop.

"at that price it better run OSX..." lot's of comments like that in the various slate threads.

doug in albq
Jan 5, 2010, 03:39 PM
the Atom processor on the left looked significantly faster than the ARM...

ShiftyPig
Jan 5, 2010, 03:42 PM
Browsing performance is roughly the same

Are we watching the same video?

lostngone
Jan 5, 2010, 03:43 PM
For me more speed is never a bad thing however for a device like the iPhone I would give up a little performance for better battery life.

Pressure
Jan 5, 2010, 03:45 PM
To be honest I am hoping for some more processor power. Would be nice being able to ditch the normal notebook for lectures and solely rely on this wunderkind.

With that in mind I would be greatly enthused if it were to, at least, match the performance of the new Atom platform, while being able to last longer on a battery charge.

Yes I know, we cannot get everything we wish for but they have still to reveal any details about this tablet.

I suppose an ARM Cortex A9 at 2Ghz should be quite the competition for any Atom-equipped netbook.

lightpeak
Jan 5, 2010, 03:49 PM
I like the use of CRT monitors to show us about the technology of tomorrow (like using a b&w camera to tell us about HDTV).

captain kaos
Jan 5, 2010, 03:51 PM
Are we watching the same video?

Well yes, it is roughly the same! The Atom had over 1 ghz over the ARM plus a gfx accelerator. Its all fine looking at 2 screens next to each other, and yes a couple of the sites, like BBC news was slightly slower on the ARM, but if you were walking around with that processor in your pocket for web browsing, you wouldn't mind!

thejadedmonkey
Jan 5, 2010, 03:53 PM
I suppose an ARM Cortex A9 at 2Ghz should be quite the competition for any Atom-equipped netbook.

Since the atom is 1.6ghz... I would hope so!

So basically Apple is transitioning their lineup from PPC to x86(64) to ARM... At what point do they stop using x86 in the Macbook line, and just keep that as a "pro" option?

derek1984
Jan 5, 2010, 03:54 PM
Just wait for the 1st revision.

dguisinger
Jan 5, 2010, 03:59 PM
Since the atom is 1.6ghz... I would hope so!

So basically Apple is transitioning their lineup from PPC to x86(64) to ARM... At what point do they stop using x86 in the Macbook line, and just keep that as a "pro" option?

Um, or not.
The iPhone has always run ARM. The airport routers have always ran ARM (I believe), iPods have always used one embedded processor or another and now use ARM. Just because they use ARM in their embedded platforms doesn't mean they will in their laptops. For one, the Atom is a slow POS processor compared to any of Intel's Core series. Beating the atom in performance isn't such a big deal when dealing with a *real* computer .... you had better beat the Atom in those platforms.

Pressure
Jan 5, 2010, 03:59 PM
Since the atom is 1.6ghz... I would hope so!

So basically Apple is transitioning their lineup from PPC to x86(64) to ARM... At what point do they stop using x86 in the Macbook line, and just keep that as a "pro" option?

Although we should not be fooled by the "Mhz Myth". I am hoping for smarter processor designs. If it happens to be clocked faster than Atom, to boot, I have nothing to be unhappy about. Well, the lack of x86 might be a problem but I will reserve the right to comment on that until we hear more than rumors.

I guess many would love to have full Mac OS X on the tablet instead of a slightly more real-estate consuming iPhone based OS X (me included).

Xfujinon
Jan 5, 2010, 04:01 PM
I would not be surprised if the "ten year plan" involved moving all of apple's mobile space electronics to custom and proprietary ARM chips. Such a move would enable Apple to do their usual focus on hardware-software ecosystem development and maintain an edge on competitors using off-the-shelf hardware.

Power consumption is very important; if any e-reader wants to be superior to the stone-age paper books of the last five centuries the battery life and power requirements must be essentially a non-issue. I mean, I read medical books about 7 hours a day on some days, sometimes longer. I never need to plug in my Harrison's. A tablet, even though it would be mighty cool and do things I can't conceive of yet, would have to be very power efficient to completely replace my burgeoning library of paper stuff.

If Apple focuses on developing absurdly low-power chips for their electronics, it may be theoretically possible to make battery life into a week-long span, therefore mitigating many practical concerns about battery life.

Whether or not Apple will leave the "pro" segment of their market is open to speculation, most more experience Apple fans would probably say "no way!" I hope they do not, but in the spirit of becoming more of a media company I can see the emphasis drifting farther away from towers and powerful laptops toward more tablets, iPods, and iPhones.

As for an Apple tablet, I have very high hopes that Apple can come up with something that closely approximates my idealized vision of such a device. There is a market for such a thing when the public conceptualization of portable computing catches up with the current technology; we probably could have moved to a cloud-based portable tablet-style computing with central base station concept a long time ago. I envision in 10 years people will simply have all of their documents and apps on the internet, and they will carry portable tablet terminals with them for various uses. Those requiring desktops or the like will use something like an iMac, with an enormous screen and small, unobtrusive footprint.

I hope it happens. I like this ARM demo, it gives me hope.

azentropy
Jan 5, 2010, 04:07 PM
So basically Apple is transitioning their lineup from PPC to x86(64) to ARM...

No they are not transitioning to ARM. As others pointed out they already use ARM. But even if they were transitioning their computers you left out a step:

68K->PPC->x86(64) to ARM...

dguisinger
Jan 5, 2010, 04:09 PM
No they are not transitioning to ARM. As others pointed out they already use ARM. But even if they were transitioning their computers you left out a step:

68K->PPC->x86(64) to ARM...

Hey, don't forget the 1MHz 6502... (okay, that wasn't a Mac, but at least the Apple II was a Apple computer.)

Peace
Jan 5, 2010, 04:11 PM
I really think Apple's gonna build their own (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/11/02/apples_2010_capital_expenditures_could_signal_major_investments.html) CPU's etc.

"This year's 10K added wording for purchases of 'product tooling and manufacturing process equipment,' which could imply Apple reversing course to actually build certain products/components in-house," Cihra said."

Mal
Jan 5, 2010, 04:12 PM
I'm afraid many were, at least at $1000 a pop.

"at that price it better run OSX..." lot's of comments like that in the various slate threads.

If it has a Cortex A9 in it, why would it be $1000? That processor would allow them to price it significantly less, I'd imagine, closer to $799.

jW

dguisinger
Jan 5, 2010, 04:13 PM
I really think Apple's gonna build their own (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/11/02/apples_2010_capital_expenditures_could_signal_major_investments.html) CPU's etc.

I think its pretty much a given that they will do it in the mobile space; I think its far-fetched that they will tackle the x86 space at the same time. They may however start doing their own chipsets. If they no longer support Intel chipsets, they no longer need to guarantee OSX can be loaded on a stock Intel board.

Wingsy
Jan 5, 2010, 04:16 PM
Whatever chip they put in the iSlate or future iPhones, I bet it will be a design by PA Semi. And a good chance that it won't be an ARM derivative but something more in tune with what the engineers at PA Semi have been working with in the past (very low power PowerPC derivative). Apple bought this company a year and a half ago and we haven't heard a peep from the lab yet. It's been long enough.

arn
Jan 5, 2010, 04:18 PM
I still run into a few people that are planning to install Windows on their iSlate. I do have to break it to them that it's more than like ARM and no good comes from me telling them.

I'm afraid many were, at least at $1000 a pop.

"at that price it better run OSX..." lot's of comments like that in the various slate threads.

Windows on a tablet form factor exists. You can buy this today.

The tablet will certainly run an ARM variant, so running Windows or Mac OS X on it is not going to happen.

arn

dguisinger
Jan 5, 2010, 04:23 PM
Windows on a tablet form factor exists. You can buy this today.

The tablet will certainly run an ARM variant, so running Windows or Mac OS X on it is not going to happen.

arn

That said Arn, ARM doesn't hold them back with OS X. Its a very portable OS. They could run desktop apps that were compiled with an additional target just like bundles contain PPC and x86 code. Even NT was designed to work that way when they had PPC and DEC Alpha support.

But, I agree, you won't be running desktop apps on it.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 04:23 PM
I really think Apple's gonna build their own (http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/11/02/apples_2010_capital_expenditures_could_signal_major_investments.html) CPU's etc.

"This year's 10K added wording for purchases of 'product tooling and manufacturing process equipment,' which could imply Apple reversing course to actually build certain products/components in-house," Cihra said."

No way Apple is building a fab. That costs billions of dollars, and there are plenty of contract fabs (TSMC, Charter, Global Foundries, UMC, IBM) that are a much better solution.

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 04:24 PM
Are we watching the same video?

did you miss the fact that the Atom on the left is running at 1600MHz whilst the ARM is only at 500MHz? Pretty good.

The Cortex A9 can run up to 2GHz and eat nearly 10x less battery than an X86.

OS X projects are designed to be processor-independant to facilitate porting to another architecture when it's relevant.

MacFly123
Jan 5, 2010, 04:26 PM
So other companies will be using these A9 chips as well. Isn't that where Apple buying P.A. Semi comes in? Because they bought them, Apple will basically be designing their own custom hybrid of the A9 chip that other manufacturers will NOT be able to use right??? :confused:

dguisinger
Jan 5, 2010, 04:28 PM
So other companies will be using these A9 chips as well. Isn't that where Apple buying P.A. Semi comes in? Because they bought them, Apple will basically be designing their own custom hybrid of the A9 chip that other manufacturers will NOT be able to use right??? :confused:

Correct, everyone else will be using off the shelf parts. Apple will use parts specific to what their end product is.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 04:29 PM
So other companies will be using these A9 chips as well. Isn't that where Apple buying P.A. Semi comes in? Because they bought them, Apple will basically be designing their own custom hybrid of the A9 chip that other manufacturers will NOT be able to use right??? :confused:

That is one theory. ARM licenses both soft cores and hard cores. One theory is that Apple has a soft core license and is doing their own physical design. Physical design has a huge effect on power and clock speed (but not on the number of instructions per cycle).

Another theory is that Apple has an architectural license - if so they could conceivable design whatever they want that runs ARM opcodes, with as many cores as they want, and whatever architectural features they want. If that's the case, they conceivably would have a huge advantage over everyone else if you believe PA Semi guys are that great.

I know many of the PA Semi guys (and many of the non PA Semi guys who are now on that team). Some of them are very good. Some of them are highly overrated. Some of them worked on the original StrongARM chip for DEC (most of them, in fact). That's why I don't believe they are working on a PPC - their heritage is actually ARM. They were working on PPC only for a comparatively brief period.

mkrishnan
Jan 5, 2010, 04:30 PM
Since the atom is 1.6ghz... I would hope so!

The tablet will certainly run an ARM variant, so running Windows or Mac OS X on it is not going to happen.

I think the problem isn't the OS... I think the nagging issue here is going to be Flash or a Flash alternative. Flash, as it exists today, on that reference Atom design, in Windows, is capable of running full-screen flash video, but it does so at marginal levels.

Flash itself is marginally relevant in terms of the overall web experience, but once the issue of streaming video comes up, I think it's a different story, as Hulu, Netflix, Unbox, and the in-house websites of the major US broadcast and cable networks all use Flash as their content delivery mechanism.

I would consider full screen video to be a fairly important component of the pitch, so I'll be curious to see what Apple has in mind. I'm hoping the answer is, "Sorry, you can't use all the providers that offer high-quality, free or inexpensive TV/movie video over the internet, but you can use our $3.99 rental system."

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 04:34 PM
So other companies will be using these A9 chips as well. Isn't that where Apple buying P.A. Semi comes in? Because they bought them, Apple will basically be designing their own custom hybrid of the A9 chip that other manufacturers will NOT be able to use right??? :confused:

Yes, ARM provides the generic blue prints which are then adapted independantly by the licensed clients. It's up to the client to produce the chips. So it could be a Cortex A9 + some PA Semi tricks and/or additional processors.

MacFly123
Jan 5, 2010, 04:38 PM
Yes, ARM provides the generic blue prints which are then adapted independantly by the licensed clients. It's up to the client to produce the chips. So it could be a Cortex A9 + some PA Semi tricks and/or additional processors.

Do we publicly know of any other licensees that could be designing their own hybrids of these A9s like Apple?

Correct, everyone else will be using off the shelf parts. Apple will use parts specific to what their end product is.

That is one theory. ARM licenses both soft cores and hard cores. One theory is that Apple has a soft core license and is doing their own physical design. Physical design has a huge effect on power and clock speed (but not on the number of instructions per cycle).

Another theory is that Apple has an architectural license - if so they could conceivable design whatever they want that runs ARM opcodes, with as many cores as they want, and whatever architectural features they want. If that's the case, they conceivably would have a huge advantage over everyone else if you believe PA Semi guys are that great.

I know many of the PA Semi guys (and many of the non PA Semi guys who are now on that team). Some of them are very good. Some of them are highly overrated. Some of them worked on the original StrongARM chip for DEC (most of them, in fact). That's why I don't believe they are working on a PPC - their heritage is actually ARM. They were working on PPC only for a comparatively brief period.

Very interesting! Thanks for the info. I am so antsy for the event on the 27th. Although, we probably will never know the real details of what Apple is doing with these chips as it will be top secret for competitive advantage.

Lesser Evets
Jan 5, 2010, 04:47 PM
I'm afraid many were, at least at $1000 a pop.

"at that price it better run OSX..." lot's of comments like that in the various slate threads.

You are getting OSX mixed up with overall app function.

99% of people won;t give a crap if it isn't OSX, but will want function. Apple hopefully programs a trimmed version or a new version that is similar to OSX to accommodate function of programs.

If Apple doesn't have good Apps on there, it's bombed with me. Especially at $1000. I'd buy a trinket surf-game-media device at $599, but not above. Not sure who is with me on that, but many won't pay that much.

commander.data
Jan 5, 2010, 04:50 PM
did you miss the fact that the Atom on the left is running at 1600MHz whilst the ARM is only at 500MHz? Pretty good.

The Cortex A9 can run up to 2GHz and eat nearly 10x less battery than an X86.

OS X projects are designed to be processor-independant to facilitate porting to another architecture when it's relevant.
ARM Cortex A9's big new feature is that it is an out of order processor, which can provide quite significant performance benefits over in-order processors like Atom and the previous Cortex A8. At the same clock speed, Cortex A9 should be faster than Atom. Which does mean that a dual core 2GHz ARM Cortex A9 could well be competitive with CULV Core 2 Duos performance wise.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 04:50 PM
Apple is the un-named licensee of the ARM cortex A9 that they listed in their Q3 earnings call
http://www.9to5mac.com/ARM-cortex-a9-pa-semi-apple-tablet

Possibly. It implies a soft core license. I can't believe, given the team, that the long term plan is to synthesize, place, and route someone else's verilog. The number of cores and clock speed is architecturally irrelevant - I would expect Apple is licensing the ISA and will eventually do the entire chip design from scratch. Of course, if they did that from the get go they wouldn't be ready with a tablet-ready chip at this point.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 04:53 PM
ARM Cortex A9's big new feature is that it is an out of order processor, which can provide quite significant performance benefits over in-order processors like Atom and the previous Cortex A8. At the same clock speed, Cortex A9 should be faster than Atom. Which does mean that a dual core 2GHz ARM Cortex A9 could well be competitive with CULV Core 2 Duos performance wise.

Maybe. Out of order compared to in order is faster on the same ISA and given the same number of pipes, registers, etc. Given that x86 instructions generally carry a much bigger payload than ARM instructions, unless you have some specific data I wouldn't reach that conclusion.

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 05:10 PM
Coincidentally, ARM has a (giant) 720p tablet prototype using 3D objects instead of 2D icons on a multitouch surface.

Have a look here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0bwMCe6IaA


Smaller prototypes at the end.

reallynotnick
Jan 5, 2010, 05:15 PM
It is worth noting the A9 is dual core while the Atom is single core.

I'm most interested in seeing the power draw from each processor, how much more efficient is the A9?

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 05:18 PM
It is worth noting the A9 is dual core while the Atom is single core.

I'm most interested in seeing the power draw from each processor, how much more efficient is the A9?

That's a tough question because much of the difference in efficiency has to do with implementation - for a given transistor, Intel is as efficient as anyone in the world. The guys at DEC who moved on to PA Semi are guys who know how to make super efficient chips, however.

cube
Jan 5, 2010, 05:18 PM
did you miss the fact that the Atom on the left is running at 1600MHz whilst the ARM is only at 500MHz? Pretty good.

The Cortex A9 can run up to 2GHz and eat nearly 10x less battery than an X86.

OS X projects are designed to be processor-independant to facilitate porting to another architecture when it's relevant.

It is not just pretty good. It is EXCELLENT.

Not to mention that the Atom netbook has a graphics accelerator, while the Cortex board does not.

strike1555
Jan 5, 2010, 05:19 PM
Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arn


Uhh..yeah?

Kinda kills any chance of real homebrew.

MovieCutter
Jan 5, 2010, 05:27 PM
I like the use of CRT monitors to show us about the technology of tomorrow (like using a b&w camera to tell us about HDTV).

RIGHT!? WTF WAS THAT!!!????

timbck2
Jan 5, 2010, 05:28 PM
The airport routers have always ran ARM

Nope, the early Airports had i486 CPUs.

retroneo
Jan 5, 2010, 05:28 PM
the just released Nexus One (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/01/05/google-launches-nexus-one-t-mobile-plan-available-now-verizon-and-vodafone-coming-soon/) currently utilize ARM processors based on the Cortex A8 design

This is incorrect.

The Nexus One uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon with a custom ARM-based Scorpion core, which is more similar to the A9 than the A8.

Like the A9, Scorpion uses out-of-order processing and supports multiprocessor configurations. A8 does not.

Lone Deranger
Jan 5, 2010, 05:41 PM
Didn't Steve Jobs during one of his keynotes allude to his engineers having OSX running on a multitude of architectures for a number of years already? Therefore would it be possible to assume they have OSX running on ARM CPUs in their labs?

(Sorry if this sounds preposterous. My hardware knowledge is rather limited, though I'm genuinely intrigued by the possibilities of ARM).

The tablet will certainly run an ARM variant, so running Windows or Mac OS X on it is not going to happen.

arn

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 05:45 PM
Didn't Steve Jobs during one of his keynotes allude to his engineers having OSX running on a multitude of architectures for a number of years already? Therefore would it be possible to assume they have OSX running on ARM CPUs in their labs?

(Sorry if this sounds preposterous. My hardware knowledge is rather limited, though I'm genuinely intrigued by the possibilities of ARM).

since iphone OS is based on OSX, it is fairly certain they have desktop OSX running on ARM as well. It is unlikely they plan on doing anything with it anytime soon.

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 05:46 PM
Didn't Steve Jobs during one of his keynotes allude to his engineers having OSX running on a multitude of architectures for a number of years already? Therefore would it be possible to assume they have OSX running on ARM CPUs in their labs?

(Sorry if this sounds preposterous. My hardware knowledge is rather limited, though I'm genuinely intrigued by the possibilities of ARM).

OS X is already ported to ARM inside the iPhone. What can't be ported "as is"
from the Mac to such a small screen is the user interface. You need something very fluid and appealing on a small screen. Meaning porting the code then adapting the user interface of any software you want to port so that it makes sense. Not too difficult if the development kit is smart.

kiranmk2
Jan 5, 2010, 05:48 PM
Web browsing is all well and good, but will the A9 decode high profile H264 1080p video?

wizard
Jan 5, 2010, 05:57 PM
If it has a Cortex A9 in it, why would it be $1000? That processor would allow them to price it significantly less, I'd imagine, closer to $799.

jW

From what I understand the A9 core doesn't grow that much over the older models. That means chip area iisnt much larger than todays ARM processors. Adding the GPU and I/O adds some space but Apple could potentially reduce the area required via carefully selected I/O. This would be a sharp contrast to the kitchen sink approach seen in commercial processors.

Even is Apple goes quad core I still see the SoC coming in under $40. Ultimately the tablets price could be around $400 depending upon how Apple configures it. Give it 3G and the price will inflate some. Hopefull they will take the same tact as the have with Touch/iPhone and give people options.

The CPU in this tablet really doesn't have to cost that much more than the device in the Touch. It's all about die size and process. Finally it should be noted that Atom is pretty darn cheap itself so you can use that as a benchmark. $799 is the price likely reserved for the top end all out model.


Dave

Lone Deranger
Jan 5, 2010, 05:58 PM
cmaier & ultranote: Thank you for your explanations. :)

Speedy2
Jan 5, 2010, 06:04 PM
So.
A Single Core 1.6GHz Atom is slightly faster than a Dual Core Cortex A9 500 MHz.


Uhm.
Big deal.


What would be insanely more interesting is a comparison of the actual power consumption at those speeds.

AidenShaw
Jan 5, 2010, 06:11 PM
Therefore would it be possible to assume they have OSX running on ARM CPUs in their labs?

since iphone OS is based on OSX, it is fairly certain they have desktop OSX running on ARM as well. It is unlikely they plan on doing anything with it anytime soon.

OS X is already ported to ARM inside the iPhone. What can't be ported "as is" from the Mac to such a small screen is the user interface. You need something very fluid and appealing on a small screen. Meaning porting the code then adapting the user interface of any software you want to port so that it makes sense. Not too difficult if the development kit is smart.

As some have said here, I doubt that very many people care about what OS is running on the Slate.

What I think that people who say "it should run full OSX" really mean is that "it should run my existing OSX applications". They don't want to have to buy new versions of their applications (like the move from PPC to x86/x64). This would be necessary if the Slate ran full OSX on ARM.

And I think that those same people really don't want to try to find new, more-or-less equivalent apps in the App Store - which would be the case if the Slate ran the Iphone OSX on ARM.

This group will probably stick with laptops - the Slate doesn't meet their needs.
_____

On the other hand, Apple could run full OSX on the Slate - but port the Iphone UI to full OSX.

The Slate could run dual-mode - normally the Iphone UI would be full screen, and you'd have the "Giant Iphone" multi-touch experience. You could choose to hide the Iphone UI and expose the OSX desktop, and run standard applications. (A certain other major desktop OS has been doing this for a few years, switching between the "2 foot UI" (desktop) and the "10 foot UI" (media centre).)

You'd most likely want to use the BlueTooth keyboard and mouse with the 2 foot UI.

Speedy2
Jan 5, 2010, 06:12 PM
It is not just pretty good. It is EXCELLENT.

Not to mention that the Atom netbook has a graphics accelerator, while the Cortex board does not.

And even less to mention that the A9 in that video was a dual core and that GHz comparisons between different ISAs are entirely pointless?

Tell you what:
A Core 2 Duo at 500 MHz would have really kicked ass in that video. And a Pentium 4 at 500 MHz would have sucked so badly you wouldn't wanna mention it. So why isn't Intel simply using Core 2 Duos instead of Atoms? Power consumption (and die size, but that's another story...)

The video is entirely useless as it is. It just shows that they have something that can somehow compete. Thing is, nobody doubted that. They had something pretty good with the A8 already!


About that x86 issue:
I think it does matter quite a bit. Netbooks are a huge market and the video shows that ARM is aiming for that. However, we can safely assume that Windows will not be ported to ARM in the near future and we can also assume that most people prefer Windows on their netbooks so far (Linux netbooks that were initially on the shelf were quickly abandoned). ARM will need a LOT of support from other players if they want to make a dent into Atom sales numbers. The Apple tablet will be playing in another segment and not even remotely compete in terms of netbooks (=Atoms) sold. So their bet is on Chrome OS I guess. Risky.

Marx55
Jan 5, 2010, 06:20 PM
The problem with Intel is TDP.
The problem with Arm is OS (no Mac, no Windows).

If I have to choose for the Apple Tablet, I rather get Mac (and Windows) inside. Even if the battery life is worse. Because the possibility to run productivity applications (read Microsoft Office) is key.

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 06:25 PM
This tablet is going to need to be some sort of miracle product. I don't even think that Apple can conjure a market for it.

I'm not fond of the direction we're going with all these ARM products going above portable status.

macaron1
Jan 5, 2010, 06:41 PM
Is that netbook a hackintosh?

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 06:46 PM
The problem with Intel is TDP.
The problem with Arm is OS (no Mac, no Windows).

If I have to choose for the Apple Tablet, I rather get Mac (and Windows) inside. Even if the battery life is worse. Because the possibility to run productivity applications (read Microsoft Office) is key.

Productivity applications have the lowest processing power requirements and the biggest established niche markets for tablets are in field data collection or editing (hospital, warehouses...) .
I don't see why there wouldn't be some port of one of the Office-compatible suites. Starting with QuickOffice.

budselectjr
Jan 5, 2010, 06:49 PM
I still run into a few people that are planning to install Windows on their iSlate. I do have to break it to them that it's more than like ARM and no good comes from me telling them.

Windows on a tablet form factor exists. You can buy this today.

The tablet will certainly run an ARM variant, so running Windows or Mac OS X on it is not going to happen.

arn

Seriously. I doubt Windows would be able to use whatever propriety interface that the iSlates hardware will have.

Yvan256
Jan 5, 2010, 07:15 PM
First of all, that has to be a hackintosh netbook. Look at the left screen. You can see Mac OS X's menu bar.

And then look at the Cortex A9 screen on the right. The same menu bar!

Are we getting the iPhone OS X with the interface of Mac OS X...? Or the ARM version of Mac OS X? :confused:

Hyuga
Jan 5, 2010, 07:23 PM
It is *nix running GNOME (http://www.gnome.org/) desktop environment.

First of all, that has to be a hackintosh netbook. Look at the left screen. You can see Mac OS X's menu bar.

And then look at the Cortex A9 screen on the right. The same menu bar!

Are we getting the iPhone OS X with the interface of Mac OS X...? Or the ARM version of Mac OS X? :confused:

SteveSparks
Jan 5, 2010, 07:23 PM
Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arn

If I get a tablet, I would expect to replace my net-book, which means I need office 2007 and Skype and cisco vpn client on the tablet.

Ultranote
Jan 5, 2010, 07:27 PM
Are we getting the iPhone OS X with the interface of Mac OS X...? Or the ARM version of Mac OS X? :confused:

That would be the same thing.

A likely scenario, the third way: a new touch-friendly desktop+ iphone apps+tablet-specific apps (from scratch or adaptations of existing Mac softs like the i Suite).

huntercr
Jan 5, 2010, 07:28 PM
In March actually? I know I talked about it with a few people on appleinsider...

http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=96448

The new multi core PowerVR chipsets will make their appearance in the iPad/iBook/iSlate/whatever as well, IMHO.

flopticalcube
Jan 5, 2010, 07:31 PM
If I get a tablet, I would expect to replace my net-book, which means I need office 2007 and Skype and cisco vpn client on the tablet.
This is the thing. iPhones replaced PDAs, phones and hand-held gaming. For $1000, the tablet should replace my netbook and/or a combination of several other items for a large number of people to buy it. Its going to be interesting to see configuration, application and pricing for this thing.

JonHimself
Jan 5, 2010, 07:46 PM
The CPU in this tablet really doesn't have to cost that much more than the device in the Touch. It's all about die size and process. Finally it should be noted that Atom is pretty darn cheap itself so you can use that as a benchmark. $799 is the price likely reserved for the top end all out model.


Dave

I've always thought it would be around $800... very unlikely to be more than $1000 or less than $600. It's not going to be cheaper than the high end iPod Touch and probably has to fall below the macbook. It's going to be annoying to have to continue read all of the people that say it'll fail if it's more than $500 and doesn't run full OSX though...

This is the thing. iPhones replaced PDAs, phones and hand-held gaming. For $1000, the tablet should replace my netbook and/or a combination of several other items for a large number of people to buy it. Its going to be interesting to see configuration, application and pricing for this thing.

What I'm hoping to do is replace my macbook pro which I use for serving AppleTV content, downloading, converting, ripping videos/DVDs and IM, web, music with a headless mac mini and this tablet. Headless macmini will download, convert, rip videos and serve the content to my appletv... tablet will be used for couch surfing/being portable and likely controlling the macmini using VNC. I think if you already have a laptop the tablet might not be for you... I think it's going to be best served as a secondary computer (or a different type of computer all together).

flopticalcube
Jan 5, 2010, 07:56 PM
What I'm hoping to do is replace my macbook pro which I use for serving AppleTV content, downloading, converting, ripping videos/DVDs and IM, web, music with a headless mac mini and this tablet. Headless macmini will download, convert, rip videos and serve the content to my appletv... tablet will be used for couch surfing/being portable and likely controlling the macmini using VNC. I think if you already have a laptop the tablet might not be for you... I think it's going to be best served as a secondary computer (or a different type of computer all together).But I can do all this with a $300 netbook and a mini. In fact, I am doing that now.
The tablet, other than the form factor, doesn't bring anything extra into the equation.

Salavat23
Jan 5, 2010, 08:06 PM
If it is just a large iPod then it is pretty much useless IMO. People want this to run many of the applications they have on their computers, not iPod/iPhone apps.

str1f3
Jan 5, 2010, 08:08 PM
What I'm hoping to do is replace my macbook pro which I use for serving AppleTV content, downloading, converting, ripping videos/DVDs and IM, web, music with a headless mac mini and this tablet. Headless macmini will download, convert, rip videos and serve the content to my appletv... tablet will be used for couch surfing/being portable and likely controlling the macmini using VNC. I think if you already have a laptop the tablet might not be for you... I think it's going to be best served as a secondary computer (or a different type of computer all together).

Well that really is the million dollar question isn't it? Exactly how open is it? We won't know the full details until after press conference when the SDK can be downloaded.

As of right now, Apple hasn't shown the slightest interest in opening up the iPhone OS which doesn't bode well for the tablet. If you can't download a file off the web or connect an external hard drive amongst the other things you mentioned, it's a niche product.

JonHimself
Jan 5, 2010, 08:08 PM
But I can do all this with a $300 netbook and a mini. In fact, I am doing that now.
The tablet, other than the form factor, doesn't bring anything extra into the equation.

Well it might, we just don't know. I would hate to have apple stock if they just release a macbook minus the keyboard + a touch screen or if it's just a big iPod. I have to assume there will be (much) more to it.

...As of right now, Apple hasn't shown the slightest interest in opening up the iPhone OS which doesn't bode well for the tablet. If you can't download a file off the web or connect an external hard drive amongst the other things you mentioned, it's a niche product.

It will certainly be interesting to see how it's implimented. I'm thinking/hoping for a Finder type app to manage files/SD cards/USB drives but still think it'll be too closed for most people* (in terms of running apps). I basically think it'll be App Store apps (some in native iPhone resolution, some scalable to full-screen and probably some just for the tablet - ie iWork apps) with windowed and background applications (not having to go to the home screen and launch the other) and some kind of file management.

* most people as in most people on the forums, which we all know is SO representative of the general population.....

applesupergeek
Jan 5, 2010, 08:08 PM
No way Apple is building a fab. That costs billions of dollars, and there are plenty of contract fabs (TSMC, Charter, Global Foundries, UMC, IBM) that are a much better solution.

The mac table is going to be a combination of pa semi custom cheaps for apple and arm cpus.

Arm cpus are the cutting edge, they are so exciting, nothing like the crap that comes out of intel these days and because of their marketing bankroll get a lot of fanfare for **** igfx, no battery improvements, no heat improvements, no efficiency improvements and a performance bump of 15%, in what is supposed to be their new gen of chips, I wonder if it was just an incremental update, what would they performance bump be 5%? Pathetic. All that intel has going for them today in the mobile segment are the hacks at engadget and anandtech.

applesupergeek
Jan 5, 2010, 08:11 PM
The problem with Intel is TDP.
The problem with Arm is OS (no Mac, no Windows).

If I have to choose for the Apple Tablet, I rather get Mac (and Windows) inside. Even if the battery life is worse. Because the possibility to run productivity applications (read Microsoft Office) is key.

Apple can take OS X snow leopard to power vr or arm, any day they choose to, they don't because they sell well on the compatibility factor and because they don't want/need os snow leopard to run on iphones and the mac tablet, there's no use for that, it's not the appropriate interface for them.

rhb
Jan 5, 2010, 08:11 PM
A likely scenario, the third way: a new touch-friendly desktop+ iphone apps+tablet-specific apps (from scratch or adaptations of existing Mac softs like the i Suite).

I suspect that's going to be the deal. Just as Safari and a few other items were ported to the iPhone, I think we'll see iWork/Life selectively migrated to this new device.

I get the feeling that the real selling point of this thing is going to be its UI, and the degree to which it can consolidate & serve media content -- particularly of the printed kind. Since so much web video is currently Flash, and that's a power sucker, I'm not sure how much of a "rich" browsing platform this is going to be, at least until HTML5 is out of the gate.

So you start with the new UI, toss in some basic apps that many of us rely on, and tie it into iTunes for print. It just might work, as long as it doesn't cost $1000 or something. And frankly, it might go a long way towards replacing the low-end MacBook, eventually.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 08:12 PM
The mac table is going to be a combination of pa semi custom cheaps for apple and arm cpus.

Arm cpus are the cutting edge, they are so exciting, nothing like the crap that comes out of intel these days and because of their marketing bankroll get a lot of fanfare for **** igfx, no battery improvements, no heat improvements, no efficiency improvements and a performance bump of 15%, in what is supposed to be their new gen of chips, I wonder if it was just an incremental update, what would they performance bump be 5%? Pathetic. All that intel has going for them today in the mobile segment are the hacks at engadget and anandtech.

Um, no. ARM CPUs are, from a technological perspective, quite boring. They are architecturally simple and unininteresting, and generally use fabrication technology that is a couple years behind what the big boys are using, thus they rely on AMD and Intel to work out the kinks and work with the EDA guys to get DFM, etc., working. Intel chips improve greatly with each generation. And I say that as a guy who spent a decade designing chips for their competitor, AMD (and also designed Sparcs for Sun and PPCs for Exponential, the PA Semi of its day - Apple was an investor and on the board of directors).

applesupergeek
Jan 5, 2010, 08:19 PM
Didn't Steve Jobs during one of his keynotes allude to his engineers having OSX running on a multitude of architectures for a number of years already? Therefore would it be possible to assume they have OSX running on ARM CPUs in their labs?


Of course it does, it already does on our iphones, and full snow leopard runs on ARM in their labs.

MikhailT
Jan 5, 2010, 08:21 PM
Are we watching the same video?

The right screen is off by a couple of millisecond as it is not completely synced to the left. It looks like it is a sec slower but sync it up a bit and you'll see that it is very competitive. We're talking about a DUAL core CPU running at 500MHz running the same performance as SINGLE core Atom 1600Mhz. Now the question that wasn't answered was, how long did A9 last without power compared to that netbook.

Dual Core Atom can't last more than 3 hours on a battery charge while the latest Atom single core chips can do more than 5 hours with some netbooks holding 6 cell battery going up to 12 hours.

Imagine the performance of A9 at 1.0Ghz and lasting 12 hours on a single battery charge.

Since the atom is 1.6ghz... I would hope so!

So basically Apple is transitioning their lineup from PPC to x86(64) to ARM... At what point do they stop using x86 in the Macbook line, and just keep that as a "pro" option?

Don't get confused with the CPU tech here. Two completely different CPU arch for two different type of computation use, x86 for desktop/laptop, full power usage and ARM for low power mobile devices like netbook, smartphones and tablets.

Apple isn't transitioning anything. They are just using ARM for iPhone devices and x86 for everything else.


If it has a Cortex A9 in it, why would it be $1000? That processor would allow them to price it significantly less, I'd imagine, closer to $799.

jW

CPUs are usually not the highest expense in building such devices. They are usually halfway on the list with the screen being a bit more expensive than the CPUs.

Bill of Material (http://www.isuppli.com/News/Pages/iPhone-3G-S-Carries-178-96-BOM-and-Manufacturing-Cost-iSuppli-Teardown-Reveals.aspx?) for iPhone 3GS to give you an idea.

No way Apple is building a fab. That costs billions of dollars, and there are plenty of contract fabs (TSMC, Charter, Global Foundries, UMC, IBM) that are a much better solution.

Nobody said that Apple is building a fab, a design/engineering teams are what they have from the PA Semi. They can design their own CPUs and outsource it to the contract fabs.

I think the problem isn't the OS... I think the nagging issue here is going to be Flash or a Flash alternative. Flash, as it exists today, on that reference Atom design, in Windows, is capable of running full-screen flash video, but it does so at marginal levels.

Flash itself is marginally relevant in terms of the overall web experience, but once the issue of streaming video comes up, I think it's a different story, as Hulu, Netflix, Unbox, and the in-house websites of the major US broadcast and cable networks all use Flash as their content delivery mechanism.

I would consider full screen video to be a fairly important component of the pitch, so I'll be curious to see what Apple has in mind. I'm hoping the answer is, "Sorry, you can't use all the providers that offer high-quality, free or inexpensive TV/movie video over the internet, but you can use our $3.99 rental system."

No Flash on iPhone and people seem to be fine with that. I don't honestly expect Flash to be around for the next decade, something is coming out sooner or later to replace Flash and I honestly think it'll be an open source type of media. HTML5 Video is probably not it, it is immature right now due to different type of codecs that's in different browser.

ARM Cortex A9's big new feature is that it is an out of order processor, which can provide quite significant performance benefits over in-order processors like Atom and the previous Cortex A8. At the same clock speed, Cortex A9 should be faster than Atom. Which does mean that a dual core 2GHz ARM Cortex A9 could well be competitive with CULV Core 2 Duos performance wise.

Not necessary, other things can be a factor. I am sure ARM A9 had to make a tradeoff to get an out of order tech in, something had to be compensated for it.

It is not just pretty good. It is EXCELLENT.

Not to mention that the Atom netbook has a graphics accelerator, while the Cortex board does not.

I didn't understand what the guy meant by graphics accelerator, was he talking about GPU or one of those HD accelerator, or integrated vs discreet GPU. If A9 is doing everything on CPU, that's impressive considering superfast desktop CPUs won't be able to render everything at more than 10fps either.

RIGHT!? WTF WAS THAT!!!????
Majority of experimental/research labs still use CRTs. Cheap or free to find, buy and constantly replace with. Most of my college labs for research still use CRTs for same reason.

Web browsing is all well and good, but will the A9 decode high profile H264 1080p video?

Even if it doesn't, it doesn't matter, netbooks are coming out with dedicated HD accelerators to do the job.




.....
About that x86 issue:
I think it does matter quite a bit. Netbooks are a huge market and the video shows that ARM is aiming for that. However, we can safely assume that Windows will not be ported to ARM in the near future and we can also assume that most people prefer Windows on their netbooks so far (Linux netbooks that were initially on the shelf were quickly abandoned). ARM will need a LOT of support from other players if they want to make a dent into Atom sales numbers. The Apple tablet will be playing in another segment and not even remotely compete in terms of netbooks (=Atoms) sold. So their bet is on Chrome OS I guess. Risky.

In my opinion, it doesn't matter a single thing. Apple isn't trying to enter the netbook market, they carve their own market and they still make huge profit on their margins on low volume sales, they aren't Dell. ARM is trying to spread their technology to all markets to make money, not just netbooks. Windows support isn't a must, it is not going to kill ARM. Microsoft can choose to port their Windows if ARM devices get too popular, MS is a software company, not a hardware company, they'll port if something is too big of a profit to miss.

This tablet is going to need to be some sort of miracle product. I don't even think that Apple can conjure a market for it.

I'm not fond of the direction we're going with all these ARM products going above portable status.

It doesn't have to be a miracle. Apple makes their own market and make enough of a profit to survive in a low volume market.

As for ARM products, many people wants netbook because of mobility and battery life afforded by them. The netbooks are starting to exceed 5-7 hours now with some netbooks coming out with 8-12 hours of actual life.

If I get a tablet, I would expect to replace my net-book, which means I need office 2007 and Skype and cisco vpn client on the tablet. Good thing many other companies will be producing tablets, they probably know there are people like you and hope that Apple will seed off a secondary market of tablets that'll be bigger.

applesupergeek
Jan 5, 2010, 08:26 PM
Um, no. ARM CPUs are, from a technological perspective, quite boring. They are architecturally simple and unininteresting, and generally use fabrication technology that is a couple years behind what the big boys are using, thus they rely on AMD and Intel to work out the kinks and work with the EDA guys to get DFM, etc., working. Intel chips improve greatly with each generation. And I say that as a guy who spent a decade designing chips for their competitor, AMD (and also designed Sparcs for Sun and PPCs for Exponential, the PA Semi of its day - Apple was an investor and on the board of directors).

While I do not doubt your expertise, I question your common sense. Am I for some reason to believe that this backward monstrosity that is the atom that got rushed for the crapbook, sorry, netbook wave is somehow more exciting that the ARM doing more with ten times less the resources in power?

As an end user I really don't care if technologically arm is more boring that watching paint dry, I consider far more boring that the most touted architecture "leap" by intel in the mobile segment in the arrandales to be saddled by a worst in class igfx and showcase a mere 15% improvement and no improvement in thermals and power efficiency (not ceteris paribus of course). If they wan't their chips to be more respected they should (paradoxically) stop being the lifeblood in funding the engadgets and anandtechs of this world, and every other dime a dozen website, because raising the bar for expectations and then not delivering isn't impacting well on them.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 08:37 PM
While I do not doubt your expertise, I question your common sense. Am I for some reason to believe that this backward monstrosity that is the atom that got rushed for the crapbook, sorry, netbook wave is somehow more exciting that the ARM doing more with ten times less the resources in power?

As an end user I really don't care if technologically arm is more boring that watching paint dry, I consider far more boring that the most touted architecture "leap" by intel in the mobile segment in the arrandales to be saddled by a worst in class igfx and showcase a mere 15% improvement and no improvement in thermals and power efficiency (not ceteris paribus of course). If they wan't their chips to be more respected they should (paradoxically) stop being the lifeblood in funding the engadgets and anandtechs of this world, and every other dime a dozen website, because raising the bar for expectations and then not delivering isn't impacting well on them.

15% is a huge improvement, especially while keeping TDP in check. Further, how's ARM's igfx compared to Intel? Oh, wait... I have no idea what the rest of your rant is about.

myview
Jan 5, 2010, 08:39 PM
Switch views.
Now thats what I said;0

applesupergeek
Jan 5, 2010, 08:48 PM
15% is a huge improvement, especially while keeping TDP in check. Further, how's ARM's igfx compared to Intel? Oh, wait... I have no idea what the rest of your rant is about.

It's always the inferiority complex types that feel the need to use the term "rant" as a put down for other posters' posts. Odious, but typical in the industry.

And btw because you have the impression that the forum is populated by idiots, they could have kept the 15% increase and constant tdp solely by virtue of going to a smaller nm proccess without even going into a new architecture.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 08:49 PM
It's always the inferiority complex types that feel the need to use the term "rant" as a put down for other poster's posts. Odious, but typical in the industry.

You went from talking about chips to talking about tech websites and complaining about Intel's odious intentions. i call that a rant. Perhaps you can explain what specific technological advancement ARM has made that you find so compelling since you stated that ARM is innovating and Intel is not. That would be more productive then "questioning my common sense" and accusing me of an inferiority complex. This thread is about chips, so let's talk about chips, and not websites, etc.

mjtomlin
Jan 5, 2010, 08:59 PM
Whatever chip they put in the iSlate or future iPhones, I bet it will be a design by PA Semi. And a good chance that it won't be an ARM derivative but something more in tune with what the engineers at PA Semi have been working with in the past (very low power PowerPC derivative). Apple bought this company a year and a half ago and we haven't heard a peep from the lab yet. It's been long enough.

PA Semi was bought for their expertise in lower-power design. This is critical when developing components for mobile (battery powered) products. The ARM is a solid design and there's no reason Apple would want to design their own CPU, but there's no doubt they are designing their own SoC with ARM core(s) and possibly even specialized cores to relieve the CPU from certain OS X tasks.

Eventually, I also see these specialized cores making their way into Macs as well, giving them a performance advantage over other Intel based systems.


And maybe some people don't know or remember, Apple co-developed the ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) CPU along with Acorn and VLSI Logic back in the late 80's for use in upcoming mobile devices, most notably, the Newton.

inkswamp
Jan 5, 2010, 09:02 PM
Nice demo but I can't take anyone seriously when they use the phrase "end user value proposition." :rolleyes:

ericinboston
Jan 5, 2010, 09:25 PM
...Such a device would likely be tasked with more processor intensive tasks and be priced against Atom powered netbooks.



Ummmmmm....most reports over the past 4-5 months on the rumored Apple Tablet price the device at $1000 or higher.

So tell me again, MR, how an Apple Tablet priced at $1000 (or even $800) is "priced against Atom powered netbooks" that fall between $300 and $450?

I'm not talking about all the dreamy features and sexiness that only Apple can whip up...I'm talking dollars vs. dollars as this latest MR states.

-Eric

Supa_Fly
Jan 5, 2010, 09:29 PM
While Snapdragon pretends - based on an ARM8 Cortex A8 (most likely loosely), the development Buggleboard redux running Cortex A9 is the Real-McCoy!

onward Cortex A9 with dual-core and SMP support.

Apple ... its time to open the API's and floodworks for a pure multitasking smartphone the iPhone is destined to be!

milo
Jan 5, 2010, 09:33 PM
About that x86 issue:
I think it does matter quite a bit. Netbooks are a huge market and the video shows that ARM is aiming for that. However, we can safely assume that Windows will not be ported to ARM in the near future and we can also assume that most people prefer Windows on their netbooks so far (Linux netbooks that were initially on the shelf were quickly abandoned). ARM will need a LOT of support from other players if they want to make a dent into Atom sales numbers. The Apple tablet will be playing in another segment and not even remotely compete in terms of netbooks (=Atoms) sold. So their bet is on Chrome OS I guess. Risky.

I don't know that arm is shooting for netbooks, it's just the easiest thing to benchmark against.

I also wouldn't assume that people really want windows on a netbook - sure, that's how most are selling so far, but there really aren't any decent alternatives yet. The apple tablet may (or may not) change that. While it is in a different segment, it has the potential to take many netbook sales since it would appeal to many of the same users.

I think their bet is on tablets and similar devices. So far they have been doing pretty good powering iPhones and the touch.

This tablet is going to need to be some sort of miracle product. I don't even think that Apple can conjure a market for it.


I think it all comes down to price, if this is cheap enough it will be huge, selling to many of the people who would otherwise buy a netbook. It's also possible that it starts out expensive to cash in from early adopters and the price drops fairly quickly.

After all, if the ipod touch could be such a hit costing from $299-399 at introduction, why not a bigger device costing a bit more? Honestly, who could have imagined how huge the iphone or touch would have been before they were introduced?

Ummmmmm....most reports over the past 4-5 months on the rumored Apple Tablet price the device at $1000 or higher.

So tell me again, MR, how an Apple Tablet priced at $1000 (or even $800) is "priced against Atom powered netbooks" that fall between $300 and $450?

Because nobody has the foggiest idea how much the tablet will cost. $1k is just a rumor (and there hasn't been a single one saying OVER that, not sure where you came up with that), just as $600 or less is. Of all the factors of a new apple release, price is the easiest to keep secret, it's entirely possible they haven't even decided price yet.

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 09:38 PM
I think it all comes down to price, if this is cheap enough it will be huge, selling to many of the people who would otherwise buy a netbook. It's also possible that it starts out expensive to cash in from early adopters and the price drops fairly quickly.

After all, if the ipod touch could be such a hit costing from $299-399 at introduction, why not a bigger device costing a bit more? Honestly, who could have imagined how huge the iphone or touch would have been before they were introduced?We're getting mixed messages from all over. Everything from shockingly cheap to $1,000 it replaces everything by using ARM somehow.

Maybe I've become to jaded about technology in general to foot the early adopter bill waiting for something to get it right. Sadly in my experiences with Apple it's never really right.

My Macbook though is the best Mac I've owned since it provides me with full utility and OS X. I hop over to Windows XP to play some Lumines and Civilization 4 is great even on the GMA X3100. Apple still hasn't offered a worthy replacement to the hardware or Leopard.

Peace
Jan 5, 2010, 09:40 PM
Well the tablet wars will start tomorrow!

http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/05/microsoft-to-reveal-hp-slate-tomorrow/

MikhailT
Jan 5, 2010, 09:42 PM
Ummmmmm....most reports over the past 4-5 months on the rumored Apple Tablet price the device at $1000 or higher.

So tell me again, MR, how an Apple Tablet priced at $1000 (or even $800) is "priced against Atom powered netbooks" that fall between $300 and $450?

I'm not talking about all the dreamy features and sexiness that only Apple can whip up...I'm talking dollars vs. dollars as this latest MR states.

-Eric

The Cortex A9 would be a particularly good fit for the rumored Apple Tablet, as such a device is seemingly positioning itself between a mobile phone and notebook. Such a device would likely be tasked with more processor intensive tasks and be priced against Atom powered netbooks.

It was referring to a tablet in general, not Apple's Tablet specifically. We have no idea what the final price will be, it depends on the screen's size as well. 7" iSlate could very well be 499$ with 10" hitting 899-999$.


My Macbook though is the best Mac I've owned since it provides me with full utility and OS X. I hop over to Windows XP to play some Lumines and Civilization 4 is great even on the GMA X3100. Apple still hasn't offered a worthy replacement to the hardware or Leopard. Imagine if Apple was actually producing iSlate as replacement for the Macbook, by going hybrid with it. Screen itself is the tablet and detachable from the keyboard, like the Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 (http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/05/lenovo-ideapad-u1-hybrid-hands-on-and-impressions/). Definitely worth $1k.

AidenShaw
Jan 5, 2010, 09:43 PM
Well the tablet wars will start tomorrow!

...and we'll wade through endless posts on MacRumours about how much better the Islate is than anything else shown at CES.

...even though nobody knows what an Islate is!

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 09:45 PM
...and we'll wade through endless posts on MacRumours about how much better the Islate is than anything else shown at CES.

...even though nobody knows what an Islate is!I'm just waiting for new notebooks.

Though my wirelessly tethered tablet idea earlier was interesting.

flopticalcube
Jan 5, 2010, 09:47 PM
...and we'll wade through endless posts on MacRumours about how much better the Islate is than anything else shown at CES.

...even though nobody knows what an Islate is!

If any more tablets show up at CES, it will definitely live up to its supposed name of is-late. Is Apple intentionally trying to be just a little late to the party or is Apple attending its own party?

MattInOz
Jan 5, 2010, 09:48 PM
PA Semi was bought for their expertise in lower-power design. This is critical when developing components for mobile (battery powered) products. The ARM is a solid design and there's no reason Apple would want to design their own CPU, but there's no doubt they are designing their own SoC with ARM core(s) and possibly even specialized cores to relieve the CPU from certain OS X tasks.

Eventually, I also see these specialized cores making their way into Macs as well, giving them a performance advantage over other Intel based systems.

IF they are building a SoC for the iPhone then on a Mac it could run all the I/O including multitouch input driver for the track pad, wifi, bluetooth, cellnetwork data, the full range of heat, light and movement sensors, drive a two chip (or more) pool of Solid state storage plus drive a screen of 480x320 in full colour (With included graphics). So how big a screen in Black & white Mode? Doing all that for a day or so on one battery cell that the even the smallest macbook has 4 cells. Sound like it would make a great custom I/O hub for the mobile mac's.

What with Pixel Qi screens B&W mode then a super low power mode for listen to music, responding to emails, filling out company order forms or other mostly reading tasks where the low power mode may even be better than the full colour mode which could be instant on if needed anyway.

That would be a killer feature on all the laptops.

JonHimself
Jan 5, 2010, 10:04 PM
Imagine if Apple was actually producing iSlate as replacement for the Macbook, by going hybrid with it. Screen itself is the tablet and detachable from the keyboard, like the Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 (http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/05/lenovo-ideapad-u1-hybrid-hands-on-and-impressions/). Definitely worth $1k.

It's a pretty awesome concept. Two computers - Win7 when the screen is in the laptop, some Linux variant when it's just the tablet. Apparently when the screen is removed you can run video out of the rest of the computer and still have it function as a Win7 laptop.

Imagine having OSX on your laptop, pop-out the screen and have a glorified iPhone OS (multiple app windows, some product-specific apps, background apps, whatever) when you pull the screen out? Definitely worth $1k.

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 10:08 PM
It's a pretty awesome concept. Two computers - Win7 when the screen is in the laptop, some Linux variant when it's just the tablet. Apparently when the screen is removed you can run video out of the rest of the computer and still have it function as a Win7 laptop.

Imagine having OSX on your laptop, pop-out the screen and have a glorified iPhone OS (multiple app windows, some product-specific apps, background apps, whatever) when you pull the screen out? Definitely worth $1k.I was under the impression that the delay when removing the display tablet was from it switching over to the Linux on ARM operating system. On a second viewing it was still wirelessly transmitting the display data from Windows 7 and the Linux mode was for completely untethered use.

I really like where this is going.

MegaSignal
Jan 5, 2010, 10:09 PM
I like the use of CRT monitors to show us about the technology of tomorrow (like using a b&w camera to tell us about HDTV).

I noticed that as well - ironic and hilarious at the same time!

JonHimself
Jan 5, 2010, 10:19 PM
I was under the impression that the delay when removing the display tablet was from it switching over to the Linux on ARM operating system. On a second viewing it was still wirelessly transmitting the display data from Windows 7 and the Linux mode was for completely untethered use.

I really like where this is going.

I think it switches to the linux mode immediately. There is a seamless transfer when browsing the web on Win7 docked, to Linux as a tablet. So it was actually the linux OS browser looking at the same page when it was removed.
I read it on Gizmodo (I think) that describes all other apps have that 2-second delay in the switch from Win7 laptop to linux tablet.

Eidorian
Jan 5, 2010, 10:21 PM
I think it switches to the linux mode immediately. There is a seamless transfer when browsing the web on Win7 docked, to Linux as a tablet. So it was actually the linux OS browser looking at the same page when it was removed.
I read it on Gizmodo (I think) that describes all other apps have that 2-second delay in the switch from Win7 laptop to linux tablet.I guess that delay also included pulling over the URL and rendering the page. That definitely isn't Windows 7 solitaire.

MikhailT
Jan 5, 2010, 10:24 PM
Imagine having OSX on your laptop, pop-out the screen and have a glorified iPhone OS (multiple app windows, some product-specific apps, background apps, whatever) when you pull the screen out? Definitely worth $1k.


OMFG, I think I just JIZZED. Apple so need to develop that. That does change the way we interact with our computers in some way.

KingYaba
Jan 5, 2010, 10:27 PM
Total waste of money if I can't run OS X.

jouster
Jan 5, 2010, 10:36 PM
I still run into a few people that are planning to install Windows on their iSlate. I do have to break it to them that it's more than like ARM and no good comes from me telling them.

Let Steve do that for you. He'll make sure they understand.

jouster
Jan 5, 2010, 10:48 PM
Windows on a tablet form factor exists. You can buy this today.


arn

And tomorrow (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/ahead-of-apple-microsoft-and-hp-to-reveal-slate-pc/) with multitouch and dual screen Windows-ish goodness per the other Steve. Sorry if this is a dupe. It's late.

Edit: Peace beat me to it. Peace.

dlastmango
Jan 5, 2010, 11:12 PM
Viewsonic Vp201M 20" LCD Monitor (White)

AMAZON.Com LINK
(http://www.amazon.com/Viewsonic-Vp201M-LCD-Monitor-White/dp/B00005RCWL)

commander.data
Jan 5, 2010, 11:42 PM
Maybe. Out of order compared to in order is faster on the same ISA and given the same number of pipes, registers, etc. Given that x86 instructions generally carry a much bigger payload than ARM instructions, unless you have some specific data I wouldn't reach that conclusion.
Yes you're right. I was a bit over-enthusiastic about Cortex A9's potential against CULV Core 2 Duos.

At least in theoretical performance, Cortex A9 is rated at 2.5 DMIPS/MHz per core (http://www.arm.com/pdfs/ARMCortexA-9Processors.pdf), Atom gets about 2.4 DMIPS/MHz per core (http://www.ocworkbench.com/2008/gigabyte/M912/g4.htm) , while Cortex A8 is rated at 2.0 DMIPS/Mhz per core (http://www.arm.com/pdfs/Cortex-A8_data_brief_FINAL_2_.pdf). So Cortex A9 and Atom have the potential to perform similarly at the same clock speed, but of course real world results will no doubt be quite different than the limited conditions that Dhrystone tests.

cmaier
Jan 5, 2010, 11:46 PM
Yes you're right. I was a bit over-enthusiastic about Cortex A9's potential against CULV Core 2 Duos.

At least in theoretical performance, Cortex A9 is rated at 2.5 DMIPS/MHz per core (http://www.arm.com/pdfs/ARMCortexA-9Processors.pdf), Atom gets about 2.4 DMIPS/MHz per core (http://www.ocworkbench.com/2008/gigabyte/M912/g4.htm) , while Cortex A8 is rated at 2.0 DMIPS/Mhz per core (http://www.arm.com/pdfs/Cortex-A8_data_brief_FINAL_2_.pdf). So Cortex A9 and Atom have the potential to perform similarly at the same clock speed, but of course real world results will no doubt be quite different than the limited conditions that Dhrystone tests.

Yep. Take into account on-chip memory controllers, caches, and the fact that compilers are still far more optimized to x86 than on ARM, and I don't think it would be very close except for benchmark code.

mjtomlin
Jan 6, 2010, 12:15 AM
IF they are building a SoC for the iPhone then on a Mac it could run all the I/O including multitouch input driver for the track pad, wifi, bluetooth, cellnetwork data, ...

Well I didn't necessarily mean the entire SoC will make its way into the Mac, I meant only certain specialized cores. Both the iPhone and Macs share the same core OS, some of those processes could be offloaded to custom processing units. Those processing units can be built-in into an ARM SoC or made into its own custom chip which could be included on a Mac motherboard.

What any of these specialized cores would do, I have no idea, but given Apple's recent work in compiler and process distribution technologies in OS X, the sky is the limit. And you have to believe that Apple will try to further differentiate all of its products (hardware) from other vendors.

MattInOz
Jan 6, 2010, 12:21 AM
I think it switches to the linux mode immediately. There is a seamless transfer when browsing the web on Win7 docked, to Linux as a tablet. So it was actually the linux OS browser looking at the same page when it was removed.
I read it on Gizmodo (I think) that describes all other apps have that 2-second delay in the switch from Win7 laptop to linux tablet.

Now take that one step further...
Apple would be using two variations of the same OS the screen could run iPhone OS but with a souped up version of Grand central and xGrid so that if it was in range it could push x86 specific code to the co-processor in the base.

So the screen/slate half is running iPhone+ OS on a nVidia Tegra.
The Lower half a xGrid node on a lower power intel cpu/gpu combo that is dispatched jobs by grand central and sends back results which in some cases maybe the app window. Although it would have to be a pretty high bandwidth wireless connection between the two.

When on the base the apps that are in the know run their normal Cocoa Nibs then switch nibs to the cocoa touch nib that suits orientation if you take it off the base. Although I'd want to do able to dock either Landscape or portrait. Developers would be required not to have x86 specific functions accessible from the cocoa touch nibs so the user isn't hitting brick walls.

I can't see it being cheap though.
So still room for a 7inch pure slate version that maybe can still use your Desktop for it xGrid node when in range.

mjtomlin
Jan 6, 2010, 12:23 AM
Total waste of money if I can't run OS X.

I assume you mean Mac OS X? Because the iPhone, iPod touch, AppleTV, and Macs all currently run OS X, so there's no reason why the tablet wouldn't.

And it would really only be a "total waste of money" if you actually paid for the device and it didn't do what you thought it would.

And I hate to be the one to disappoint you, but it is definitely not going to run Mac OS X. Apple already stated that they are building ARM based systems for their mobile products, which was given as the main reason for the P.A. Semi acquisition.

Sticking a "desktop" interface into a tablet form factor is the reason they haven't been successful to date. It doesn't offer anything new that a laptop can't do.

mdriftmeyer
Jan 6, 2010, 12:37 AM
It shows a dual core at 500Mhz.

The A9 is designed for 1 to 4 cores with frequency scaling past 2Ghz.

decson
Jan 6, 2010, 01:53 AM
:p

SimonTheSoundMa
Jan 6, 2010, 02:51 AM
This thread is hilarious. 90% of the replies are from the clueless. :rolleyes:

Didn't we learn 5 years ago that "GHz" doesn't mean anything. OS X is not platform dependent, Apple have had OS X, and its direct derivatives, running on ARM since the 1990's. Could get Windows 2000 that runs on ARM.

Apple have been working with ARM since the 1980's when they helped Acorn Computers to develop the platform further. They have always had a huge interest.

Mr. Zorg
Jan 6, 2010, 02:54 AM
No way Apple is building a fab. That costs billions of dollars, and there are plenty of contract fabs (TSMC, Charter, Global Foundries, UMC, IBM) that are a much better solution.

I'm not so sure. They've had a hell of a time keeping secrets these days with all the vendors they need to use. Bringing manufacturing inhouse would make perfect sense for them. As for the billions of dollars, Apple's got close to $30 billion in CASH in the bank last I looked. Setting up their own fab would be chump change.

Marx55
Jan 6, 2010, 02:59 AM
Intel should move to 11 nm now and offer Apple an amazing Atom chip with a competitive TDP that runs Mac OS X. That would be the real killer device.

Colrath
Jan 6, 2010, 03:31 AM
I think the problem isn't the OS... I think the nagging issue here is going to be Flash or a Flash alternative. Flash, as it exists today, on that reference Atom design, in Windows, is capable of running full-screen flash video, but it does so at marginal levels.

Flash itself is marginally relevant in terms of the overall web experience, but once the issue of streaming video comes up, I think it's a different story, as Hulu, Netflix, Unbox, and the in-house websites of the major US broadcast and cable networks all use Flash as their content delivery mechanism.

I would consider full screen video to be a fairly important component of the pitch, so I'll be curious to see what Apple has in mind. I'm hoping the answer is, "Sorry, you can't use all the providers that offer high-quality, free or inexpensive TV/movie video over the internet, but you can use our $3.99 rental system."

You're forgetting the fact that Flash will be gone soon. Once HTML 5.0 hits, everything will be embedded in a <video> using h.264.

Ultranote
Jan 6, 2010, 03:49 AM
Intel should move to 11 nm now and offer Apple an amazing Atom chip with a competitive TDP that runs Mac OS X. That would be the real killer device.

Running Mac OS X isn't the main challenge. It would even be the simplest solution, that's why it's unlikely :-) The real issue is about ergonomics. You can flock a full sized OS to a small screen like XP Tablet PC and netbooks have done for years but it's not the ideal user experience. If Apple wants to win this, they have to come up with a different innovative user interface and better usability than the competition.

mdriftmeyer
Jan 6, 2010, 04:57 AM
Yep. Take into account on-chip memory controllers, caches, and the fact that compilers are still far more optimized to x86 than on ARM, and I don't think it would be very close except for benchmark code.

Clang/LLVM are being optimized for Arm, X86_64 and much more.

aegisdesign
Jan 6, 2010, 05:01 AM
I think the problem isn't the OS... I think the nagging issue here is going to be Flash or a Flash alternative. Flash, as it exists today, on that reference Atom design, in Windows, is capable of running full-screen flash video, but it does so at marginal levels.

That's not so much a problem with the Atom as a problem with the Intel integrated graphics which don't support hardware H.264. If Apple add H.264 decode into their tablet then potentially they can get better full screen Flash video than the Atom netbooks.

Of course that all depends on Apple being OK with Flash on their tablet and Adobe adding hardware support for it. IIRC they've only added H.264 hardware support in Windows.

Flash itself is marginally relevant in terms of the overall web experience, but once the issue of streaming video comes up, I think it's a different story, as Hulu, Netflix, Unbox, and the in-house websites of the major US broadcast and cable networks all use Flash as their content delivery mechanism.

True although here in the UK, the BBC is using H.264 now on some of their native iPlayer clients such as the Nintendo Wii iPlayer. The native Wii version is pretty good compared to the old web based Flash version.

I would consider full screen video to be a fairly important component of the pitch, so I'll be curious to see what Apple has in mind. I'm hoping the answer is, "Sorry, you can't use all the providers that offer high-quality, free or inexpensive TV/movie video over the internet, but you can use our $3.99 rental system."

You're hoping for that? Surely you mean you're NOT hoping it's Apple's usual closed iTunes service.

aegisdesign
Jan 6, 2010, 05:39 AM
You're forgetting the fact that Flash will be gone soon. Once HTML 5.0 hits, everything will be embedded in a <video> using h.264.

Much as I'd love to see that since it would open up content delivery, it needs...

IE to support <video> AND h.264
Firefox to support h.264

or Apple to support OGG Theora

Then it needs the browser manufacturers to fix the autoplay/autobuffer issues in their initial implementations.

And even then there's issues with rights management to solve that means some websites will still prefer Flash.

Flash won't be going away soon for video delivery.

koobcamuk
Jan 6, 2010, 05:44 AM
Does that really matter? I don't think anyone's expecting to run Mac/PC apps on their iSlate.

arn

What's the point of the tablet then? Bespoke apps?

Ultranote
Jan 6, 2010, 06:09 AM
What's the point of the tablet then? Bespoke apps?

Run apps that are better designed than desktop apps for that task!

If you've never used a tablet before it's a normal reaction to want a desktop OS to run on it with touch features. Then you'll realise the average Windows apps aren't designed for a touchscreen environment and/or a small screen.
You need coherence.

poseidon84
Jan 6, 2010, 06:38 AM
It seems to make Safari a bit snappier...

t0mat0
Jan 6, 2010, 06:56 AM
No ARM Mac OS X?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghdTqnYnFyg 4:42 minutes -

"Mac OS X has been leading a secret double life for the past 5 years"

What were the Apple rules on OS X?

"We've had teams doing the Just in Case scenario. Our designs for Mac OS X must be processor independent."

Why did they want the Intel transition? They wanted the best products for the consumers. "As we look ahead, we can envision some amazing products... Just as important as performance is power consumption. The way we look at it is power per watt. FOr 1 W of power, how much performance do you get?.....This tells us what we have to do"

Intel vs ARM?

The slate makes the reason for Apple dragging its feet on the ATV a lot clearer - they can't use the Slates interface/update first without demoing/announcing/releasing the Slate. Once that's done, i'd imagine we'll see a lot more activity.

If someone can forward a link to the simple reasons why Apple can't get OS X Core/Slate/ whathaveyou on ARM? Not like they didn't hide away Intel...


Don't hear anyone chirping up about how Apple was reportedly *THIS* close to going with PA Semi over Intel a while back - PA Semi were bummed - it was like what they did with IBM. THen Apple snagged PA Semi - the talent and more.

I'd imagine that whilst it'll be rough round the edges, the rumors were around a while back that 2010 meant dualcore ARM on iPhones/iOther

smiddlehurst
Jan 6, 2010, 08:05 AM
Although we should not be fooled by the "Mhz Myth". I am hoping for smarter processor designs. If it happens to be clocked faster than Atom, to boot, I have nothing to be unhappy about. Well, the lack of x86 might be a problem but I will reserve the right to comment on that until we hear more than rumors.

I guess many would love to have full Mac OS X on the tablet instead of a slightly more real-estate consuming iPhone based OS X (me included).


Frankly I don't want either. What I want (and what I'm reasonably sure Apple will deliver) is an OS tailored to the tablet form factor. Something that takes advantage of the screen size, works perfectly with finger control and offers the usual high quality Apple applications.

Not saying that's enough to get me to buy (that's a whole other argument) but there's a reason that Windows-based tablets haven't taken off, and that's largely the fault of trying to cram an OS designed for large screens and keyboard/mouse combinations into tablet hardware. If a tablet is going to work it needs to be a consumer-level device and frankly I'd argue that Apple is so far ahead in that area it's not even funny. Of course the geeks will scream blue murder but that seems to be standard practice these days.

aegisdesign
Jan 6, 2010, 08:42 AM
Frankly I don't want either. What I want (and what I'm reasonably sure Apple will deliver) is an OS tailored to the tablet form factor. Something that takes advantage of the screen size, works perfectly with finger control and offers the usual high quality Apple applications.

Not saying that's enough to get me to buy (that's a whole other argument) but there's a reason that Windows-based tablets haven't taken off, and that's largely the fault of trying to cram an OS designed for large screens and keyboard/mouse combinations into tablet hardware. If a tablet is going to work it needs to be a consumer-level device and frankly I'd argue that Apple is so far ahead in that area it's not even funny. Of course the geeks will scream blue murder but that seems to be standard practice these days.

That presumes that you'll only ever use a tablet in tablet form and never with an attached (via bluetooth even) keyboard or mouse.

If you can't run Mac OSX apps on it (because it's ARM based, not Intel) then maybe that's a valid presumption but a large screen iPod Touch would be a little disappointing personally speaking, especially if it's locked down to AppStore apps only. I'm looking for an Apple version of the OQO, not another iPod.

Thomas2006
Jan 6, 2010, 08:53 AM
The Cortex A9 can run up to 2GHz and eat nearly 10x less battery than an X86.

OS X projects are designed to be processor-independant to facilitate porting to another architecture when it's relevant.
If there is one notebook Apple wants to be extremely power efficient, it is the MacBook Air, so sign me up for a dual-processor, dual-core, 2GHz Cortex 9 model. Who needs super-fast processors when you have an OS that is focused on using what you have more efficiently?

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 09:00 AM
I'm not so sure. They've had a hell of a time keeping secrets these days with all the vendors they need to use. Bringing manufacturing inhouse would make perfect sense for them. As for the billions of dollars, Apple's got close to $30 billion in CASH in the bank last I looked. Setting up their own fab would be chump change.

Yeah, they're not doing that. That would be a secret impossible to keep from those of us in the industry because they'd already have hired a thousand people, and they'd already have had to hire at least a few of my buddies to get it done. The buddies they've hired are all design guys, and they are clearly working with a contract fab (I believe TSMC, but not 100% sure).


It also takes years to build a fab, and Apple would have to have explained where the billions of dollars it cost to build one went in it's 10K's, etc.
Also, there is no advantage to them doing that. Even AMD doesn't make it's own chips anymore, and AMD has much more unique process demands than Apple would.

halse
Jan 6, 2010, 09:21 AM
where did they get the monitors?
haven't seen one, let alone two, of those in ages

couldn't they at least have gotten a pair of $200 20" flat screens?

firewood
Jan 6, 2010, 10:55 AM
Um, no. ARM CPUs are, from a technological perspective, quite boring. They are architecturally simple and unininteresting, ... And I say that as a guy who spent a decade designing chips for their competitor, AMD (and also designed Sparcs for Sun and PPCs for Exponential...

It makes sense that you might say that CPUs that are far from the leading edge in SPEC* are boring, given that the background mentioned above is mostly at the high performance end of the spectrum (been there, done that, burnt my fingers on GaAs prototype chips). But the ARM architecture has been a good target for a lot of interesting academic research in low power design (fully async, etc.), and has an ISA that is evolving better at allowing leading-edge low mW/"mips" implementations.

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 11:10 AM
It makes sense that you might say that CPUs that are far from the leading edge in SPEC* are boring, given that the background mentioned above is mostly at the high performance end of the spectrum (been there, done that, burnt my fingers on GaAs prototype chips). But the ARM architecture has been a good target for a lot of interesting academic research in low power design (fully async, etc.), and has an ISA that is evolving better at allowing leading-edge low mW/"mips" implementations.

Me, too re: the GaAs/AlGaAs stuff. HBT devices, CML logic.

My point was meant only to be that there's nothing inherently interesting or innovative about ARM, in response to that guy who claimed ARM was cutting edge and Intel sucked. And a lot more cutting edge stuff (microarchitecture, physical design, circuit design, process) happens in the x86 world than in the ARM world.

aegisdesign
Jan 6, 2010, 11:26 AM
If there is one notebook Apple wants to be extremely power efficient, it is the MacBook Air, so sign me up for a dual-processor, dual-core, 2GHz Cortex 9 model. Who needs super-fast processors when you have an OS that is focused on using what you have more efficiently?

If that was true, they'd not have given it a huge 13" screen. I don't think they're so bothered about power. It's more about looks and how thin it was.

Hattig
Jan 6, 2010, 11:53 AM
Web browsing is all well and good, but will the A9 decode high profile H264 1080p video?

It'll come with a video decode unit that shouldn't have any problems doing that.

Also ARM has the NEON vector instructions that aren't too shabby.

Atom has ... Intel graphics.

iamkarlp
Jan 6, 2010, 12:36 PM
While I have no desire to get ivolved in this conversation I would like to put to rest all the comments about the screens. They are not CRT's (although there wouldn't be anything wrong if they were). They are 15 inch viewsonc LCD's popular 4~5 years back for corporate desktop use. As a general rule they have now been replaced by larger monitors for end users and thus they are now easy to find in some companies IT shops and development labs as throw arround/ expendable monitors. There is nothing wrong with them however other than being a little small.

Speedy2
Jan 6, 2010, 01:43 PM
You're forgetting the fact that Flash will be gone soon. Once HTML 5.0 hits, everything will be embedded in a <video> using h.264.

Where did you get that?
Flash will (unfortunately) be around for a long, long time. There's no indication whatsoever that Google and Apple are succeeding in their endeavour to push HTML5 as Flash replacement. Heck, these two can't even agree on a common codec.

wizard
Jan 6, 2010, 03:46 PM
The device will have an ARM processor, it is pretty simple and if you read between the lines one can make good guesses about what that processor would look like.

The rumors and public actions indicate that Apple purchased PA Semi specifically to do custom ARM spins. These chips are to be implemented in Touch like devices.

While this is in part due to the lower watt per MIPS capability of ARM hardware, I believe there is a significant issue with being able to easily do custom SoC spins. Something Intel has yet to demonstrate skills with.

In essence the ability to do a progressive SoC is today the equivalent of designing a PC board in the 70s. In otherwords the Woz'es today would not be laying out a PC board but rather the System on Chips (SoC). To be competitive today a company has to be able to design at this level.

Of course that is describing glueing together different IP to make a whole. PA Semi could and is likely doing far more. I could see them deleting the ARM vector and multimedia units for a vector unit of their own design for example. Frankly what this final iteration of the tablets processor is is more interesting to me than the tablet itself.

You see contrary to statements made else where in this thread ARM and it's processors are very interesting indeed. They have reached a level of industry acceptance that has generated a lot of attention from other companies. The IP for ARM businesses are well known, but we are now seeing the EDA houses agressive applying low power tech against ARM designs. To me this is an indication that ARM hardware (IP) is going to be implemented more widely than ever before. The only bad thing there is can Apple keep up with it's ARM spins.

There is a real question to be asked here. Can Apple, as a single sink for the designs, keep up with the industry as a whole. It is going to be tuff as I've seen some pretty impressive A8 designs announced.

In any event there are a lot of variables with respect to what could be in Apples SoC. Everything from the process feature size to the low power tech implemented. That won't keep me from guessing though. So here are some guesses:

1.
The chip will likely come with an ARM A8 core. Well at least one of the chips as there are rumors of multiple designs on the boards for various devices. Why A8, time to market for one, more so A9 can be saved for rev2. Plus the same SoC would be usable on an array of devices.
2.
A9 with SMP support is possible also. This would then become a tablet specific chip. My concern here is that ARM IP might not be ready or Apples modifications. Demos aside I'd be really impressed if Apple had this series ready. The only reason to bring it up is the rumored OS features that might really make use of the SMP hardware.
3.
The GPU will be the latest from Imagination. That IP is adjustable in the sense that you can implement various number of cores. It will be interesting to see what Apple implements as the trade offs for performance and power usage will be interesting. I'm going to say 8 cores just for the hell of it.
4.
There is an interesting possibility that Apple will implement a frame buffer for the GPU right on the SoC. At the right process node there should be plenty of transistors available. That could be shared memory or it could be GPU dedicated. In any event it does a couple of things for them, it keeps the GPU from having to go off chip to memory saving power and it should end up being very fast. Yeah in one sense it is a lot of space on the chip, but should be doable for a buffer in the 32 to 64 MB range. For a tablet that would be a lot of RAM for video.
5.
Carefully tailored I/O will be in the game plan. This to eliminate as much unused electronics as possible to save power and die space. Some of that save die space can be used for the video buffer above. In any event we are talking two USB ports built In, WiFi hardware, Ethernet, the video drives/DACs, Touch interface hardware, some serial I/O for what can't go on the SOC, maybe Blutooth too and that is about it. Sounds like a lot but it really isn't when compared against the competition. Remember too this is to be integrated into the SoC. Apple may have to move one or two of those features off the chip, in that case PCI Express lanes would be implemented. But in the end I expect as much of the high speed stuff as is possible to be on the SoC. That to save power more than anything.
6.
The mystery meat in the sauce is unknown right now but I have to believe there is something to be had in this case. How else can Apple justify the expense of PA Semi? I alluded to the idea of an Apple inspired vector unit/multi media unit but there is opportunity for other ideas. For example Apple extends the ARM architecture to 64 bits. Another possibility is that Apple adds instructions or co-processors that enhance the execution of Objective C and Cocoa. Anybody have anyother ideas in this respect?

Oh one more thing, putting a desktop OS on a tablet is just stupid as is expecting desktop apps to run well on such a platform. All of this has happened before… Now is the time to break the cycle.



Dave

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 04:00 PM
PA Semi was cheap, and EDA means "electronic design automation" and refers to vendors who license software to other to do design work. The low power techniques used by PA Semiconductor stem from their own circuit design work and their own tools, as is generally the case amongst low power design houses, so not sure why you refer to EDA.

You dispute my statement that ARM is technologically uninteresting, but your reason seems to be that it has achieved market acceptance? What do apples have to do with oranges?

Finally, the guys at PA Semi are not SoC guys - they are custom guys. They aren't integrating hard IP like you seem to be implying. They are doing a full-on design, starting with ARM RTL (and possibly merely starting with ARM ISA). They will have no trouble beating any other vendor, all of which use ASIC design flows. The problem will be spinning iterations fast enough to keep up, as the PA Semi design flow is far more laborious than the crappy ASIC flows used by everyone else (other than the Intel's and AMD's of the world).

The device will have an ARM processor, it is pretty simple and if you read between the lines one can make good guesses about what that processor would look like.

The rumors and public actions indicate that Apple purchased PA Semi specifically to do custom ARM spins. These chips are to be implemented in Touch like devices.

While this is in part due to the lower watt per MIPS capability of ARM hardware, I believe there is a significant issue with being able to easily do custom SoC spins. Something Intel has yet to demonstrate skills with.

In essence the ability to do a progressive SoC is today the equivalent of designing a PC board in the 70s. In otherwords the Woz'es today would not be laying out a PC board but rather the System on Chips (SoC). To be competitive today a company has to be able to design at this level.

Of course that is describing glueing together different IP to make a whole. PA Semi could and is likely doing far more. I could see them deleting the ARM vector and multimedia units for a vector unit of their own design for example. Frankly what this final iteration of the tablets processor is is more interesting to me than the tablet itself.

You see contrary to statements made else where in this thread ARM and it's processors are very interesting indeed. They have reached a level of industry acceptance that has generated a lot of attention from other companies. The IP for ARM businesses are well known, but we are now seeing the EDA houses agressive applying low power tech against ARM designs. To me this is an indication that ARM hardware (IP) is going to be implemented more widely than ever before. The only bad thing there is can Apple keep up with it's ARM spins.

There is a real question to be asked here. Can Apple, as a single sink for the designs, keep up with the industry as a whole. It is going to be tuff as I've seen some pretty impressive A8 designs announced.

In any event there are a lot of variables with respect to what could be in Apples SoC. Everything from the process feature size to the low power tech implemented. That won't keep me from guessing though. So here are some guesses:

1.
The chip will likely come with an ARM A8 core. Well at least one of the chips as there are rumors of multiple designs on the boards for various devices. Why A8, time to market for one, more so A9 can be saved for rev2. Plus the same SoC would be usable on an array of devices.
2.
A9 with SMP support is possible also. This would then become a tablet specific chip. My concern here is that ARM IP might not be ready or Apples modifications. Demos aside I'd be really impressed if Apple had this series ready. The only reason to bring it up is the rumored OS features that might really make use of the SMP hardware.
3.
The GPU will be the latest from Imagination. That IP is adjustable in the sense that you can implement various number of cores. It will be interesting to see what Apple implements as the trade offs for performance and power usage will be interesting. I'm going to say 8 cores just for the hell of it.
4.
There is an interesting possibility that Apple will implement a frame buffer for the GPU right on the SoC. At the right process node there should be plenty of transistors available. That could be shared memory or it could be GPU dedicated. In any event it does a couple of things for them, it keeps the GPU from having to go off chip to memory saving power and it should end up being very fast. Yeah in one sense it is a lot of space on the chip, but should be doable for a buffer in the 32 to 64 MB range. For a tablet that would be a lot of RAM for video.
5.
Carefully tailored I/O will be in the game plan. This to eliminate as much unused electronics as possible to save power and die space. Some of that save die space can be used for the video buffer above. In any event we are talking two USB ports built In, WiFi hardware, Ethernet, the video drives/DACs, Touch interface hardware, some serial I/O for what can't go on the SOC, maybe Blutooth too and that is about it. Sounds like a lot but it really isn't when compared against the competition. Remember too this is to be integrated into the SoC. Apple may have to move one or two of those features off the chip, in that case PCI Express lanes would be implemented. But in the end I expect as much of the high speed stuff as is possible to be on the SoC. That to save power more than anything.
6.
The mystery meat in the sauce is unknown right now but I have to believe there is something to be had in this case. How else can Apple justify the expense of PA Semi? I alluded to the idea of an Apple inspired vector unit/multi media unit but there is opportunity for other ideas. For example Apple extends the ARM architecture to 64 bits. Another possibility is that Apple adds instructions or co-processors that enhance the execution of Objective C and Cocoa. Anybody have anyother ideas in this respect?

Oh one more thing, putting a desktop OS on a tablet is just stupid as is expecting desktop apps to run well on such a platform. All of this has happened before… Now is the time to break the cycle.



Dave

wizard
Jan 6, 2010, 04:19 PM
Me, too re: the GaAs/AlGaAs stuff. HBT devices, CML logic.

You seem to define interesting as bleeding edge technology. That is certainly one perspective but there are others to consider or at least acknowledge.

My point was meant only to be that there's nothing inherently interesting or innovative about ARM, in response to that guy who claimed ARM was cutting edge and Intel sucked.

I can't say that Intel sucks at everything they do. They are hitting on all cylinders right now with respect to most of their CPU line up.

However I don't believe they even come close to competeing with ARM when it comes to low power devices, IP or an industry accepted platfom for the embedded world. Sure this is a different focus than what Intel has but ARM still innovates.
And a lot more cutting edge stuff (microarchitecture, physical design, circuit design, process) happens in the x86 world than in the ARM world.
Unfortunately you lost a lot of credibility with that statement above as frankly you are so far off as to be laughable. With i86 you have Intel and AMD making most of the processors and a small number of companies doing support chips. Frankly there aren't even that many motherboard manufactures when looked at in comparison to the ARM market.

In fact if you take one sub category of ARM business, say cell phones, I would have to say it far outclasses what is being done with the entire I86 industry. It is not impossible for a modern cell phone to contain 6 ARM cores in various configurations.

ARM is everwhere but because there are no ARM inside stickers you don't notice the hardware nor the innovation. It isn't just the cell phone industry as ARM hardware shows up in just about everything. The embeeded world may not interest you but you have to consider that an ARM running at substantially lower power levels than Atom but yet offering as good or better performance is innovation. At least I would say that is impressive for a company moving away from its embeeded roots


Dave

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 04:33 PM
You seem to define interesting as bleeding edge technology. That is certainly one perspective but there are others to consider or at least acknowledge.

The only discussion in this thread of "interesting" had to do with "technically interesting." It's not my definition, it's just that you're changing the subject.



However I don't believe they even come close to competeing with ARM when it comes to low power devices, IP or an industry accepted platfom for the embedded world. Sure this is a different focus than what Intel has but ARM still innovates.

Of course they don't. They don't try to, either. At least not yet. When Intel can sell every high-end CPU it can make for $100, why would it spend a lot of energy on chips that sell for $20 unless they have to? The time will come when they have no choice, but for now Intel's focus is on where it makes the most profit.


Unfortunately you lost a lot of credibility with that statement above as frankly you are so far off as to be laughable. With i86 you have Intel and AMD making most of the processors and a small number of companies doing support chips. Frankly there aren't even that many motherboard manufactures when looked at in comparison to the ARM market.

I agree with the above, but not sure how my statement lost me credibility? I never claimed there were more x86 manufacturers than ARM manufacturers. I simply claim that x86's are more technologically innovative and interesting. ARM chips built today use technology that x86 guys mastered years ago.




In fact if you take one sub category of ARM business, say cell phones, I would have to say it far outclasses what is being done with the entire I86 industry. It is not impossible for a modern cell phone to contain 6 ARM cores in various configurations.

Outclasses how? In number of cores? No. AMD has 6 core chips already in production, and each x86 core is significantly more powerful than any ARM core. AMD's architecture is actually designed to allow up to 8 cores per die without having to redesign the crossbar.


ARM is everwhere but because there are no ARM inside stickers you don't notice the hardware nor the innovation. It isn't just the cell phone industry as ARM hardware shows up in just about everything. The embeeded world may not interest you but you have to consider that an ARM running at substantially lower power levels than Atom but yet offering as good or better performance is innovation. At least I would say that is impressive for a company moving away from its embeeded roots


So what? MIPS chips are in even more devices than ARM chips. Ubiquity doesn't equal innovation. Do you think 8-bit microcontrollers are innovative because they outsell ARM chips 1000 to 1?

x86 chips contain architectural features like traceback caches, out-of-order execution and scheduling units, register renaming, variable length instructions, instruction alignment, on-the-fly opcode translation, etc. They use advanced fabrication techniques and smaller lithographies. They use more advanced transistors with double gates. They have advanced floating point units. They have far more addressing modes. They use silicon-on-insulator technology, taller metal stacks, more advanced packages. They are hand-designed transistor by transistor for maximum optimization, unlike ARM chips which are run through a Synopsis and puked out as a tape on the other end. They have on-chip at-speed memory controllers and point-to-point interconnect buses like hypertransport.

ARM chips aren''t much more complicated than AMD's old K6 chips, but are built on semi-modern processes with clock gating and other features to reduce power (and, by the way, all of those features have already made it into use in x86, as well).

wizard
Jan 6, 2010, 05:22 PM
PA Semi was cheap, and EDA means "electronic design automation" and refers to vendors who license software to other to do design work.

I know what EDA means in any event I will repeat there are EDA vendors target ARM and the low power market with their tool sets. The point is there is a lot of innovation, with respect to the ARM market that is interesting to some of us. It may not mean much to you that a company can effective lower the power usage on an ARM core but it does to many. Especially to people in a forum thread focused on portable devices. Granted this is not "interesting" to many.

The low power techniques used by PA Semiconductor stem from their own circuit design work and their own tools, as is generally the case amongst low power design houses, so not sure why you refer to EDA.

Because there are EDA houses offering up tools to improve the power usage of of pruducts with respect to the same design built with other tools. You can't make an assumption that they are using in house tools because there are tools available that they could use.

As to what PA Semi is using I'd say that is more of an open question than you may think. Mostly due to time to market issues. Plus there is a strong likely hood that they have multiple chips in progress so they literally could be doing both.


You dispute my statement that ARM is technologically uninteresting, but your reason seems to be that it has achieved market acceptance? What do apples have to do with oranges?

No it is the fact that ARMs stradegy has achieved market acceptance that make the hardware interesting technologically. What you have is a core(s) that are being implemented in an enormous number of ways often with very interesting hardware attached.

As to the ARM cores you can think of them as technologically un interesting and that is a perspective you are free to have. On the other hand ARM continues to improve the core to make it better while keeping size growth in check.

This is not the same as Intel dropping one i86 design for another newer one but it is maintaining and improving the product line. Further ARM has something Intel doesn't have which is the partners that add to the ARM ecosystem. Maybe all that additional IP is also un insteresting but I see it in a different light, ARM provides a place to implement technology which is very interesting to me.


Finally, the guys at PA Semi are not SoC guys - they are custom guys.

Yes this is very true. But they where also a company with economic issues it is really hard to say what they contracted with Apple for and then what lead to the buy out. I'd love to know for sure though.
They aren't integrating hard IP like you seem to be implying. They are doing a full-on design, starting with ARM RTL (and possibly merely starting with ARM ISA).

You seem to be implying that they never have implemented somebody elses IP. That would surprise me but it is possible.

As to a full on design I don't discount that that is possible what I'm bothered with is it possible that design would be read for a tablet by now. Especially considering that some of that chip would be new functionality for PA. The other thing that bothers me is that some of Apples products simply don't have the lifetimes and volumes to justify a custom design. Lately the iPod Touch has been getting a new processor every year for example.

In any event you sound awfully sure about your position with respect to a full on design. Do you have inside information.

They will have no trouble beating any other vendor, all of which use ASIC design flows. The problem will be spinning iterations fast enough to keep up, as the PA Semi design flow is far more laborious than the crappy ASIC flows used by everyone else (other than the Intel's and AMD's of the world).

Well this to me is a serious issue. That is keeping up with all those ASIC building vendors out there. It is one of the reasons I'm kinda expecting one of this stich and glue crappy ASIC as you call them. Especially to get the rev one devices out. Apple could easily go the ASIC route, collect the required IP blocks and have PA create the missing functionality that started Apple down this road. In effect a hybrid approach where a portion of the chips IP is Apples. A side effect is that Apple could find IP for WiFi and some of the other wireless tech that PA doesn't have experience with.

Now the full on custom idea isn't a bad idea at all. In fact it would likely be the only practical way for Apple to implement some things I believe they are interested in. One thing I suspect would be a custom vector/multi media engine to replace Neon and other ARM technologies. Make that unit a programmable processor and it would work with Apples OpenCL technologies.

Basically I'm looking for a reason for Apple to go full custom. Especially when the volume isn't assured. A capability that no one else can offer is one possibility but that would be fleeting in this day and age. The synic in me says that the whole process is for lock in


Dave

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 05:34 PM
I know what EDA means in any event I will repeat there are EDA vendors target ARM and the low power market with their tool sets.

Name such a product.



The point is there is a lot of innovation, with respect to the ARM market that is interesting to some of us. It may not mean much to you that a company can effective lower the power usage on an ARM core but it does to many. Especially to people in a forum thread focused on portable devices. Granted this is not "interesting" to many.


I'm just asking what the innovation is - you said it's not technological. So what is it?


Because there are EDA houses offering up tools to improve the power usage of of pruducts with respect to the same design built with other tools. You can't make an assumption that they are using in house tools because there are tools available that they could use. As to what PA Semi is using I'd say that is more of an open question than you may think.


It's not an assumption. I know what they are using. I was responsible for EDA at AMD's california design team for nearly a decade. I know what's going on in the industry, and I know the people in the industry and what tools they are using.




No it is the fact that ARMs stradegy has achieved market acceptance that make the hardware interesting technologically. What you have is a core(s) that are being implemented in an enormous number of ways often with very interesting hardware attached.

What interesting hardware attached?


As to the ARM cores you can think of them as technologically un interesting and that is a perspective you are free to have. On the other hand ARM continues to improve the core to make it better while keeping size growth in check.

But to be innovative, doesn't the core have to have something other cores don't have? Or at least arrange things in a novel combination? If so, what is the new thing or combination that makes ARM so innovative?



Further ARM has something Intel doesn't have which is the partners that add to the ARM ecosystem. Maybe all that additional IP is also un insteresting but I see it in a different light, ARM provides a place to implement technology which is very interesting to me.

Surely you are joking. Intel doesn't have partners and an ecosystem? It's ecosystem is gargantuan compared to ARM.



In any event you sound awfully sure about your position with respect to a full on design. Do you have inside information.

Yes. I don't know what the people are working on, but I know who the people are - in many cases the people have been to my house and shared beer with me. I know what they know how to do, and I know that if they weren't doing what they wanted to be doing, they wouldn't still work there.

.

Basically I'm looking for a reason for Apple to go full custom. Especially when the volume isn't assured.

Dave

The design cost is low compared to the fab cost, and they don't have to pay the fab cost until they start the wafers. The advantage of full custom is that without even trying hard you immediately reduce the power per clock by 25-50%. Alternatively you can reduce area by x% (and hence cost) and power per clock by some other percent. Or you can increase clock and leave power constant. It is extraordinarily easy for trained people to beat synthesis tools. At AMD we did an experiment, and just by hand instantiating and placing standard cells (i.e.: letting a tool do routing, and not designing at the transistor level) we were able to beat the EDA companies by 20%. And we let them do the design with their own tools, so that the results would be unbiased. If instead you do transistor level design (which is what the PA Semi guys are trained to do from their DEC days), you easily do much better than that.

wizard
Jan 6, 2010, 06:08 PM
The only discussion in this thread of "interesting" had to do with "technically interesting." It's not my definition, it's just that you're changing the subject.

Nope, you just have a narrow definition of what is technology.




Of course they don't. They don't try to, either. At least not yet. When Intel can sell every high-end CPU it can make for $100, why would it spend a lot of energy on chips that sell for $20 unless they have to? The time will come when they have no choice, but for now Intel's focus is on where it makes the most profit.

The point is it is technology! Maybe the ARM ecosystem isn't interesting to you but it is to many. That due to having the right technology to do the job in a way few others can. It is not wiz bang tech but that doesn't dismiss that it is tech.



I agree with the above, but not sure how my statement lost me credibility? I never claimed there were more x86 manufacturers than ARM manufacturers. I simply claim that x86's are more technologically innovative and interesting. ARM chips built today use technology that x86 guys mastered years ago.

This "… more technologically innovative and interesting" is exactly what I'm responding to. Many people would disagree with that.




Outclasses how? In number of cores? No. AMD has 6 core chips already in production, and each x86 core is significantly more powerful than any ARM core. AMD's architecture is actually designed to allow up to 8 cores per die without having to redesign the crossbar.

No you missed my point totally. The point is those ARM processors can be implementing many functions in a phone thus the many cores. The implementation of these specialized chips is very interesting. How many i86 chips get integrated into a chip to become a baseband processor.

Look I know that is a silly question but the point is it is interesting tech.



So what? MIPS chips are in even more devices than ARM chips. Ubiquity doesn't equal innovation. Do you think 8-bit microcontrollers are innovative because they outsell ARM chips 1000 to 1?

You are equating variety with sales. To your question yes some 8bit microprocessors are innovative. Just look at what comes on die and look at some of the CPU implementations. Are they comparable to and i86, nope but the do innovate even in 8bit land.
[/quote]

x86 chips contain architectural features like traceback caches, out-of-order execution and scheduling units, register renaming, variable length instructions, instruction alignment, on-the-fly opcode translation, etc. They use advanced fabrication techniques and smaller lithographies. They use more advanced transistors with double gates. They have advanced floating point units. They have far more addressing modes. They use silicon-on-insulator technology, taller metal stacks, more advanced packages. They are hand-designed transistor by transistor for maximum optimization, unlike ARM chips which are run through a Synopsis and puked out as a tape on the other end. They have on-chip at-speed memory controllers and point-to-point interconnect buses like hypertransport.
[/quote]
So!

Really are they anymore innovative than a 8 bit CPU that implements a precision timing co-processor. Now you may say that is not innovating the CPU itself as that is I/O. To an engineer trying to implement a dirt cheap lawnmower engine controller it is beyound innovation it is a solution to a problem. A fancy Cache is like wise a solution to a problem and also innovation. Which is interesting is a matter of perspective.


ARM chips aren''t much more complicated than AMD's old K6 chips, but are built on semi-modern processes with clock gating and other features to reduce power (and, by the way, all of those features have already made it into use in x86, as well).

What do you mean by already? It is only recently that i86 manufactures have even cared about power. As to some of those other i86 features they didn't break ground on i86. Many have filtered down from mainframes, mini computers and RISC chips. Sure it is great that the whole thing is on one piece of Silicon but they are not all new ideas.

That is not to discount the efforts required to get all those fancy features working on an i86 chip. It's just that one could say that the features aren't all innovation. For you they may be interesting for a compiler writer they may be a pain in the butt. Not to mention the grief they cause an embedded engineer. There are a number of ways to look at innovation and not everybody sees the same thing. As to interesting that is up to the individual and his tastes.


Dave

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 06:22 PM
What do you mean by already? It is only recently that i86 manufactures have even cared about power.


Nonsense. At AMD our prime design constraint on Opteron/Athlon 64, starting in 2000, was the power envelope. It was our number one, immutable design constraint. Sure, the TDP is much higher than ARMs, but the chip also does more. We had to use all the same tricks that PA Semi will use (gated clocks, elimination of dynamic logic, buffering strategies, minimum edge rates to remove crowbar current, special transistor optimizations) and more (SOI, etc.) to meet the power requirements. The point is you can always choose to dedicate the design to throughput or to low power, and the fact that ARM chooses a different point, and does it using technology that is years behind that used by Intel and AMD in making x86 processors doesn't make their technology innovative. I still haven't seen you explain a single innovative feature of any ARM core. (Yes, x86 chips have been glued to baseband processors, as well as all sorts of other SoC blocks. For many years AMD, National Semiconductor, and others sold these kinds of chips.)

wizard
Jan 6, 2010, 07:05 PM
Name such a product.


I will have to look it up if I can. The info came out of one of my electronic design magazines. Basically they where touting a tool that took an ARM IP and generated a chip will a significant power drop over the same design run through conventional tools. The firm wasn't a mainstream EDA outfit.



I'm just asking what the innovation is - you said it's not technological. So what is it?

Well is all innovation technology? That is a good question. In the case if ARM I would call their ability to gain industry acceptance of microprocessors as IP to be used as ingredients in your own designs as innovation. If you efectively change the nature of the game that is innovation.




It's not an assumption. I know what they are using. I was responsible for EDA at AMD's california design team for nearly a decade. I know what's going on in the industry, and I know the people in the industry and what tools they are using.

I can accept your back ground, that isn't the problem. What I wonder about is getting a fully custom design out the door in the time since PA was purchased.

That may not be a concern though as I've heard that PA was doing work for Apple well before the buy out. If true then they would have had more time to produce something.



What interesting hardware attached?

I find it hard to believe you asked that question as some of the most interesting stuff out there is built on ARM SoC. There is hardly a month (week) that goes by without an ARM related announcement. Many of those announcements have the companis involved touting the latest hardware that sits next to an ARM core. It could be the latest GPU, a media engine or some other Piece of hardware to make the chip stand out.


But to be innovative, doesn't the core have to have something other cores don't have? Or at least arrange things in a novel combination? If so, what is the new thing or combination that makes ARM so innovative?

You can't just look at ARM but rather it is the ecosystem that allows one to build your one SoC reasonable quick. It is not the core that is the innovation but the ability for many to build what isn't economically possible otherwise or to bring technology to market in a far more salable way.

ARM doesn't need rapid innovation in and of themselves as they have many companies doing that for them. ARM just needs to incrementally improve their designs, which they do, to keep all these third parties interested in their solution.


Surely you are joking. Intel doesn't have partners and an ecosystem? It's ecosystem is gargantuan compared to ARM.

Intel has an ecosystem, however it is no where near as broad as ARMs. Surely you can agree with that? As to sheer size of that ecosystem I really don't have numbers right now but it is not insignificant. It's composition is radically different too, largely due to servicing different markets.


Yes. I don't know what the people are working on, but I know who the people are - in many cases the people have been to my house and shared beer with me. I know what they know how to do, and I know that if they weren't doing what they wanted to be doing, they wouldn't still work there.

Not to distract from the conversation but I just realized these people are in California. I'm sitting here in cold NY after three days of Snow. It is hot coffee or chocolate weather.


.


The design cost is low compared to the fab cost, and they don't have to pay the fab cost until they start the wafers. The advantage of full custom is that without even trying hard you immediately reduce the power per clock by 25-50%. Alternatively you can reduce area by x% (and hence cost) and power per clock by some other percent. Or you can increase clock and leave power constant. It is extraordinarily easy for trained people to beat synthesis tools. At AMD we did an experiment, and just by hand instantiating and placing standard cells (i.e.: letting a tool do routing, and not designing at the transistor level) we were able to beat the EDA companies by 20%. And we let them do the design with their own tools, so that the results would be unbiased. If instead you do transistor level design (which is what the PA Semi guys are trained to do from their DEC days), you easily do much better than that.

Wasn't one of the problems with the so called G5 Power PC a reflection of what you said above. That is the synthesized logic was very power hungery for what it was doing?

In any event we should know what Apple/ARM/PA Semi have been up to in a couple of weeks. In a way I'm actually hoping you are right and that Apple has had the time to do a full custom spin. More so I'm hoping that they do add a little extra to the sauce to address handling of multi media.

The concern about multi media is do to some rather impressive ARM based chips recently announced. Likewise I still have this concern that Apple will have a very hard time keeping up with all the other innovation in the ARM marketplace.

I will get back to this thread latter as the conversation has been most interesting.



Dave

JimNoble
Jan 6, 2010, 07:47 PM
MIPS chips are in even more devices than ARM chips.

Are you sure?

MIPS appear to sell about 100M units/qtr at the moment (source: http://www.mips.com/news-events/newsroom/index.cfm?i=43321).

Where as ARM shipped "over 1.0 billion" units in the most recently reported quarter (source: http://ir.arm.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=197211&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1346312), which must surely make it the most popular microprocessor architecture on the planet? (They hit 14 billion cumulative units early in 2009 (source: http://ericschorn.com/2009/04/16/arm-basics-1/) - has any single microprocessor architecture sold more than that previously?)

Do you think 8-bit microcontrollers are innovative because they outsell ARM chips 1000 to 1?

A quick google suggests the 2009 market for 8-bit microcontrollers was estimated at 4.8 billion units (source: http://chipdesignmag.com/lpd/blog/2009/05/13/lines-blur-between-processor-and-microcontroller/), so I think maybe you're out by about a factor of 1000 there.

Jim

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 08:11 PM
Are you sure?

MIPS appear to sell about 100M units/qtr at the moment (source: http://www.mips.com/news-events/newsroom/index.cfm?i=43321).


Quite sure. You have 20 years of MIPS shipments to take into account. And I'm talking design wins, not units shipped. SKUs not sales. Same logic applies for both numbers - every car, traffic light, and fancy toaster made for a couple of decades had an 8-bit microcontroller in it.

JimNoble
Jan 6, 2010, 08:29 PM
Quite sure. You have 20 years of MIPS shipments to take into account. And I'm talking design wins, not units shipped. SKUs not sales.

The first ARM based products shipped in 1987 :D

Same logic applies for both numbers - every car, traffic light, and fancy toaster made for a couple of decades had an 8-bit microcontroller in it.

No argument there. 8-bit mcus have been around a long time. Although you did say "outsells 1000 to 1" rather than "outsold", but that's just me being picky... ;)


Jim

cmaier
Jan 6, 2010, 08:30 PM
The first ARM based products shipped in 1987 :D



No argument there. 8-bit mcus have been around a long time. Although you did say "outsells 1000 to 1" rather than "outsold", but that's just me being picky... ;)


Jim

Fair enough.

MikhailT
Jan 7, 2010, 06:25 PM
Oh man, this looks very juicy for the Apple Slate.

http://www.anandtech.com/gadgets/showdoc.aspx?i=3714