Feeds

ARM wrestling: Apple iPad chip to overpower rivals?

In-house chippery to make or break tablet, say analysts

Boost IT visibility and business value

The big question is perhaps not whether Apple will announce the eagerly anticipated iPad next week, but what chip will power the media tablet.

Since the device is expected to run a version of the iPhone operating system, and given that battery life is likely to be a key factor in the iPad's success, it's hard to imagine Apple using anything other than an ARM-based processor in there.

It's tempting, after the claims made by Nvidia when it launched its newest Tegra ARM-based system-on-a-chip at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month - dual-core processor, full HD graphics, 15-hour movie-playback battery life - that Apple might have selected this part for the iPad.

But a number of analysts this week said they believe the iPad may well be based on chippery designed by the Mac maker itself. Some of these claims may be circular - they're derived from what other analysts are saying - and we wouldn't want to categorically rule out an Nvidia involvement, but the alleged use of an in-house chip design is appealing.

PA Semi

Speaking to CNet this week, technology consultant Richard Doherty of Envisioneering talked up Apple's efforts: "Before the year is out, Apple will have the most powerful, lowest-cost SoC in the industry. There's nothing that I can see from ARM licensees or Intel that could challenge the power-per-Watt, the power-per-buck, the power-per-cubic-millimeter of size. Apple is going to have quite a performance, battery efficiency and cost advantage over the competition."

How might Apple achieve this? Back in 2008, Apple acquired chip designer PA Semi, and that CEO Steve Jobs subsequently said that Apple's new semiconductor engineers would be working on SoCs for the iPhone and iPod - tacit confirmation that the team would be working with ARM cores.

Later that year, Apple bought a small $4.8m, 3.6 per cent stake in Imagination Technologies, a UK-based developer of graphics cores for ARM chips of the kind it is said to be working on. If you're serious about putting good graphics into an ARM-based SoC, Imagination is one of the first companies you call for a chat - if, indeed, it's not at the top of your list.

The essential guide to IT transformation

Next page: Hiring Chip Chiefs

More from The Register

next story
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech
Sadly Navdy kit doesn't include Sidewinder missile to blast traffic
FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'
Wow, it looks like nothing else on the market, for sure
YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator
Fanbois prepare to experience the great Cupertin-O
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Things are looking up in Flappy Bird sequel
'Swing Copters' offers the same gameplay but in a different direction
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.