About processors and how fast they advance

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Italianblend, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. Italianblend macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2011
    I would like someone with a bit of hardware knowledge to answer this question.

    We see that apple updates its "chip" about every year or so (A5, A6, etc)...

    This chip is put into the next generation of iphone, ipad, ipod, etc...

    My question is: If any company (intel, apple, etc, whoever makes processors) has the knowhow to make a better chip every so often, say every year or even less, then are they purposely slowing the process to make more money? In other words, is the technology here now to make whatever would in the future be the A8 or A9 chip, but apple is slowing the process because of cost and so that they can make upgrades at a more consistent time period?

    My disclaimer is that i am fine with it if it is a business decision and would do the same. I'm just wondering if technology upgrades are purposely slowed. It seems like they can consistently put out a new chip ever year, and I assume no real breakthroughs are happening in the field that all of a sudden allows them to create these magnificent chips...
  2. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    How often to update processors is partially technical and partially a business decision;

    When you update processors, you often have to update other parts in the device (or system). How often is it cost effective to do this. How much of an improvement would you see at each update if they were more often?

    Remember when you change a part in a device, it needs thorough testing and then the manufacturing line has to be updated.

    I think once a year updates is fine, it allows for decent testing and a decent increase in performance/abilities.
  3. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    If we went by your logic, NASA could build the Starship Enterprise right now if they really wanted to. They've just decided not to.

    I'm really not sure how to respond to that idea other than to say "it's not true" and hope you believe me. Because that's all I've got.
  4. Giuly macrumors 68040



    There's a law for that.
  5. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    That's not quite the way it works, similarly to memory and storage, "advanced" and faster options exist now, however they are too cost prohibitive to put in consumer electronics. You could buy 16GB of RAM 4 years ago, however the average price was over $1500.00. These days it's around $100/$200. SSDs are the same, and thee magnificent chips exist, however no one wants to pay $6k for a computer with these upgrades.
  6. Italianblend thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2011

    You have taken my thoughts a little too literally. I'm not saying we should be living on Vulcan by now. But I do suspect that there is some holding back in the industry.

    You can tell me it's not true, but you don't really give any info.

    As for the chart, does that mean we should be selling computers with 16 core processors? Is it too expensive to produce?
  7. Italianblend thread starter macrumors 68000


    Mar 21, 2011
    Good points. Is the reason that 16 GB ram was $1500 because of supply and demand, or because it actually cost a lot of money to physically produce RAM back then? What I'm saying is that it cannot possibly be $1300 cheaper to produce RAM now than it was 4 years ago.
  8. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    It's like any new product, on launch you're paying a higher cost for components, manufacturing, and still offsetting R&D, marketing, etc. costs. As time passes and you are actually able to buy components for cheaper as their manufacturing costs have dropped, you're manufacturing in bulk so your cost have dropped, etc, etc.
  9. ThatsMeRight macrumors 68020

    Sep 12, 2009
    The amount of cores say nothing. Just like the amount of GHz say nothing. It's all about the architecture.

    Obviously, there is always _some_ holding back. If you put all the technology you have in one single chip, you might get a chip that is

    1) over-powered (in other words: no software that takes advantage of it)
    2) pricy (putting the newest technology in a chip is expensive)
    3) risky (new technology can cause trouble)
    4) too much energy consuming / heat generation

    You need to find a balance between all those things.

    That said, I don't think they are holding back right now; they're definitely not holding back in the mobile industry. In the past few years we've seen huge advancements in mobile CPUs and GPUs. There is currently fierce competition in the smartphone industry and most companies are trying to beat each other in every way possible. To name a few things:

    - CPU
    CPU performance has been drastically improved since the iPhone first launched, while CPU energy consumption has drastically been decreased.

    - GPU
    GPU performance also saw a huge jump in performance. We can now play a game like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City with better framerates and more items then on the PlayStation 2 that launched in 2000 and 2001. The next-generation mobile GPUs are just around the corner, which might - hopefully - offer performance close to or similar to the PS3/Xbox 360.

    - RAM
    Some smartphones are now shipping with 2 GB of RAM; a few years ago, 2 GB of RAM was the standard for regular PCs

    - Displays
    You might not realise it, but most high-end smartphones now have better displays then most customer TVs. Currently, we're seeing better viewing angles, contrast and colours in smartphones/tablet than that we are seeing on large, television sets.
    In December 2012, we also saw the first 1080p (Full HD) smartphones and this year we're bound to see more 1080p(+) smartphones and tablets with pixel densities way higher than on a TV.

    - Advanced 3G networks + 4G LTE
    A lot of people, but obviously not everybody, have now acces to high-speed 3G networks (sometimes up to 30 Mbps real-life performance) or 4G LTE (currently, between 20-50 Mbps real life performance + low ping). We're also seeing more powerful and faster Wi-Fi chips.

    I think - at this moment - we're seeing no holding back. Smartphone manufacturers are fighting for customers and the result is that we're seeing huge advancements in displays, chips and other technologies.
    And they are not done yet: smartphone and tablet penetration are quite low, so manufacturers will continue innovating.
  10. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Moore's Law (above) is known since the 60's, it's been pretty consistent that way.

    Does Intel, or whoever have better technology but are not (yet) making available to the general public? Yes. Intel, at least, used to make high end processors only available to the servers market.

    To put a microprocessor in a relatively crammed, smartphone, speed is not the only consideration. You won't be happy if the new super-speedy processor make your phone only good for 2 hours, or run so hot it burns your hands. So there are compromises necessary for a targeted platform.

    The Macbook people often complaint they lack a dedicated graphic processor for performance, but Apple, apparently has decided battery life, and quiet operation more important.

    And then you can only hold things so long before *some* competitor establish themselves. Intel the giant is loosing big to ARM.

  11. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    "Macbook"? That product doesn't exist any more, the only Apple computer without dedicated graphics is the 13" MBP.
  12. libertysat macrumors regular

    Nov 10, 2010
    My first Mac, I paid about $60/meg (not/gig) for ram
    Stock came with 8 megs and I added 32 Meg's more for close to an additional $2000

    I would assign 24 megs to photoshop and it would fly...
  13. TacticalDesire macrumors 68020


    Mar 19, 2012
  14. AnorexicPig macrumors 6502


    Dec 12, 2012
    Winnipeg,Canada/New Delhi India
    :confused: The 13" rMBP,11" and 13" MBA also don't have dedicated graphics.

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