ARM Cortex A9 Performance Demo - Likely Chip to Power iSlate and Future iPhones

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    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 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 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
     
  2. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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  3. arn
    macrumors god

    arn

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

    arn
     
  4. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #4
    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.
     
  5. macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    doug in albq

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    #6
    the Atom processor on the left looked significantly faster than the ARM...
     
  7. macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Are we watching the same video?
     
  8. macrumors demi-god

    lostngone

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    #8
    At least for me...

    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.
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    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.
     
  10. macrumors regular

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    #10
    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).
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    captain kaos

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    #11
    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!
     
  12. macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #12
    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?
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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  14. macrumors 6502

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    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.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    Pressure

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    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).
     
  16. macrumors 6502

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    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.
     
  17. macrumors 68000

    azentropy

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    #17
    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...
     
  18. macrumors 6502

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    Hey, don't forget the 1MHz 6502... (okay, that wasn't a Mac, but at least the Apple II was a Apple computer.)
     
  19. macrumors P6

    Peace

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    I really think Apple's gonna build their own 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."
     
  20. Mal
    macrumors 603

    Mal

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    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
     
  21. macrumors 6502

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    #21
    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.
     
  22. macrumors member

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    #22
    Don't Forget About PA Semi

    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.
     
  23. arn
    macrumors god

    arn

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    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
     
  24. macrumors 6502

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    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.
     
  25. macrumors G3

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    #25
    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.
     

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