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Apple ARMs up iPhone

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An Apple engineer updating his LinkedIn profile has let slip his work on an ARM CPU architecture for the iPhone, confirming the rumour that Apple is working on its own variant of the processor developed for the successor to the BBC Micro.

The engineer is one Wei-han Lien, whose profile is now mysteriously absent from LinkedIn - but not before it was spotted by the New York Times, which reported the ex-PA Semiconductor engineer describing his current task as to "Manage ARM CPU architecture team for the IPhone [sic]".

The fact that the iPhone uses an ARM is unsurprising: the architecture completely dominates the mobile phone business and is fighting its way into the Small, Cheap Computers market too. ARM licenses the core to lots of people, who then make their own silicon with additional features suited to their market, such as graphics processing or even a separate communications CPU.

The current iPhone apparently gets its ARM implementation from Samsung, but it makes sense for Apple to work on its own variation, perhaps packing control circuits for the touch screen or their FairPlay DRM, especially if it's really going to sell ten million of the things.

Apple acquired the skills to create such a variation with the purchase of PA Semiconductor last April, and pretty much admitted it plans a custom variation in June, but it's nice to know the ARM will remain at the heart of the iPhone - a little bit of Acorn that refuses to die. ®

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