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Apr 12, 2001
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Bright Side of News claims to have information on Apple's "A4" chip unveiled as the brains behind the company's new iPad tablet device. Unsurprisingly, the CPU included in the chip is said to be based on the ARM Cortex A9 licensed by Apple and implemented by its team of chip designers acquired as part of its 2008 purchase of P.A. Semi.

It should be no surprise that the Apple A4 processor is based on the ARM Cortex A9 design which will begin shipping to many manufacturers this year, but the article incorrectly states that the Qualcomm Snapdragon and nVidia Tegra were also based on this design. Those processors were based on the Cortex A8 -- the same processor design found in the iPhone 3GS. This new potentially multi-core processor has only recently been introduced in the Tegra 2 first demoed at CES 2010.

The site also makes a dubious claim that Apple is using the ARM Mali 50-Series GPU for its graphics hardware which would represent a departure for Apple from the PowerVR chips that they've used in the past. Apple is a licensee and major stakeholder in Imagination Technologies, the company behind the PowerVR chipset.

Amongst the varied reactions to the Apple iPad, one common impression has been the notable speed increase of the device compared to the existing iPhone and iPod Touch. We would expect Apple to adapt the A4 design into the next generation iPhone which is expected later this year.

Article Link: Possible Details on Apple's ARM-based 'A4' Chip?
 

MWPULSE

macrumors 6502a
Dec 27, 2008
706
1
London
So logic and common sense (if such things actually prevail in apple land) would dictate that the iphone and next gen ipod touch are gonna have ARM A9 as well? Sweet.. i will take a phone that has half the operating speed of my laptop lol!!

:)

PTP
 

Rocketman

macrumors 603
I suspect the reason EE was banned by Apple was because they are discussing fairly accurate die size (42nm) and future likely generation (24nm), that there might be a hesitation on uptake for the debut device based on hardware specs.

The main "benefit" of the system is not hardware. It is the ecosystem, the stores, the GUI, the "capabilities" it delivers.

It is pretty likely the 2nd gen will be a 50%+ increase in "speed", but, would you give up a year with a $650 device that does interesting things, just so you can get a 50% better one a year later?

Rocketman
 

Friscohoya

macrumors 6502a
Jun 16, 2009
708
0
Oaktown
I suspect the reason EE was banned by Apple was because they are discussing fairly accurate die size (42nm) and future likely generation (24nm), that there might be a hesitation on uptake for the debut device based on hardware specs.

The main "benefit" of the system is not hardware. It is the ecosystem, the stores, the GUI, the "capabilities" it delivers.

It is pretty likely the 2nd gen will be a 50%+ increase in "speed", but, would you give up a year with a $650 device that does interesting things, just so you can get a 50% better one a year later?

Rocketman

Friscohoya: Raises hand..."Me, me, me...I know"

Rocketman: "Yes"

Friscohoya: "Um, no?"

Rocketman: "Very good young Jedi. That is the correct answer. Your correct answer will cost you $499-$829 depending on your wireless and storage needs. Thanks for playing."
 

lilo777

macrumors 603
Nov 25, 2009
5,144
0
Apple using pre-designed solutions from ARM and manufacturing chips at the same foundries that Qualcomm and NVIDIA pretty much guaranties that Apple devices will have the same or inferior chips than other phones/tablets. For example, NVIDIA's Tegra2 chip uses the same core (A9) as A4 and has the same frequency. However Tegra2 uses NVIDIAs own GPU design whereas Apple uses standard ARM GPU. One has to assume that Tegra will have the same CPU but better GPU performance than A4.

Most likely the main reason Apple decided to design their own chips is that they wanted to make sure nobody can run their software on generic hardware.
 

trajen

macrumors 6502a
Oct 2, 2008
523
9
Friscohoya: Raises hand..."Me, me, me...I know"

Rocketman: "Yes"

Friscohoya: "Um, no?"

Rocketman: "Very good young Jedi. That is the correct answer. Your correct answer will cost you $499-$829 depending on your wireless and storage needs. Thanks for playing."

Are you guys saying you don't expect the next iPhone to have a significant speed increase from the 3GS? :rolleyes:
 

the-oz-man

macrumors 6502
Jun 24, 2009
402
153
While it's no surprise that Apple used the A9 architecture, what gives it the "wow" is that it is done all in-house and so quickly considering the recent acquisition. The use of this chip further excites me about the next version of the iphone having a 1ghz chip!
 

Imperil

macrumors member
Apr 15, 2008
68
0
However Tegra2 uses NVIDIAs own GPU design whereas Apple uses standard ARM GPU.
Incorrect. Apple currently does not use a standard ARM GPU in any current product. The iPhone and iPod touch have used technology by Imagination Technology for GPUs, mainly the PowerVR MBX and the SGX535.

Most likely the main reason Apple decided to design their own chips is that they wanted to make sure nobody can run their software on generic hardware.
Incorrect. They will be using the ARM Cortex CPU so theoretically any other device could run the apps as other devices will have the same native instruction set, the real factor here is the operating system needs to support those applications (i.e. the same way you can't just run Windows applications on a Mac without virtualization and vice-versa even though they both run on the x86-64 instruction set). The reason apple would have wanted to build their own chips is because they actually have some of the leading technology and R&D in power management and batteries, as well as chipsets with the acquisition of PA Semi. Since they now control the design of the SOC they can determine what components they would like to include rather than relying on an licensing a generic one from an outside company or having them build a custom one (if you're doing that why NOT design in-house?).
 

MattInOz

macrumors 68030
Jan 19, 2006
2,760
0
Sydney
So logic and common sense (if such things actually prevail in apple land) would dictate that the iphone and next gen ipod touch are gonna have ARM A9 as well? Sweet.. i will take a phone that has half the operating speed of my laptop lol!!

:)

PTP

Why not put one of these in the MacBooks?
They've already built in everything they need to build a basic OS X machine.
It likely has Apple custom touch controller
It's enough power to run mail and reasonable web, music/iPod, Preview and PDF reading, iWorks.
Then team it with an arrandale with good power management to only power up on demand. The GPU in this chip helping cover the shortcomings of the Arrandales IGP as long as they work together.

Wouldn't that push the battery life way way up.

Edit: The MacBookPros would then add a real GPU as well.
 

LagunaSol

macrumors 601
Apr 3, 2003
4,798
0
I love that Apple is now using their "own" processor. Not only because it gives them that much more oversight of the "total experience" (which really is what Apple is all about), but because it will make it harder (read: more entertaining) for the haters to bash it (not that they won't try).

From:

"I can't believe Apple is only using the Commander Taco 2000. The Commander Taco 3000 chip that comes out in 6-12 months is so much better, and that's what Microsoft is going to use in their ZunePhone HD4SeriousThisTime Platinum Edition."

"Yeah, totally, Apple sucks."


*virtual high five*

to

"My ZunePhoneHD4SeriousThis Time Platinum Edition totally stomps the iPhone. It has the Commander Taco 3000 chip."

"Hells yeah! What does the iPhone have?"

"Err, I'm not really sure..."


*skulks off*

Also interesting to note how Apple openly advertises its CPU speeds on its laptop and desktop models (and surprisingly on the iPad), while the competition (which prides itself on hardware spec comparisons) simply tells you their laptop features the "Intel Core2Duo 5200." :confused:

Strange days indeed are upon us.
 

headfuzz

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2007
492
5
Brighton, UK
My 18 month iPhone 3G contract expires in 2 months... Summer's looking good for an upgrade to ultra womping A4 based 4th gen iPhone :)
 

Yonizzle

macrumors member
Feb 8, 2005
54
30
Durham, NC
That article also included a gratuitous and IMHO inappropriate Nazi reference. I don't think Steve Jobs is beyond criticism, but they could really pick a better comparison than Goebbels w/r/t his need for control.

FFS, they should at leave instantiations of Godwin's Law to the commenters.
 

indigo144

macrumors newbie
Jul 12, 2005
16
0
multi-core CPU on an OS without multi-tasking

While the latest version of iPhone OS probably does some multi-threading. The kernel of an OS that was designed to be multi-tasking from the start would look very different. This perhaps lies at the 'core' of the difference between the MS Windows family and Unix, and why MS is stuck with its inner legacy.

Will the iPhone OS always hark back to its origins? Will it be able to catch up to Android in this regard? If it was easy Apple would have done it by now since there is no underlying phone functionality to protect on the iPad.
 

lilo777

macrumors 603
Nov 25, 2009
5,144
0
Incorrect. Apple currently does not use a standard ARM GPU in any current product. The iPhone and iPod touch have used technology by Imagination Technology for GPUs, mainly the MBX and the SGX535.
I am just referring to the original source of this article which claims that A4 uses ARM's Mali GPU. So far there is no information contradicting to this fact.


Incorrect. They will be using the ARM Cortex CPU so theoretically any other device could run the apps as other devices will have the same native instruction set, the real factor here is the operating system needs to support those applications (i.e. the same way you can't just run Windows applications on a Mac without virtualization and vice-versa even though they both run on the x86-64 instruction set). The reason apple would have wanted to build their own chips is because they actually have some of the leading technology and R&D in power management in batteries, as well as chipsets with the acquisition of PA Semi. Since they now control the design of the SOC they can determine what components they would like to include rather than relying on an outside company licensing a generic one or building a custom one.

Are you sure Apple has no right to add one extra instruction to the original instruction set? Even if they can not they probably have the way of recognizing CPU type anyways.

While PA Semi did work on low power chips I do not believe they ever produced one. Besides the one they worked on was based 64-bit Power Architecture. So they are not quite the power house in designing chips for mobile devices.
 
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