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Apple’s New Secret Sauce: The A4 Chip

2 February 2010 713 views One Comment

Well, not so secret, after all. It was never a secret actually – Remember Macworld 2007?

“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware”

Steve Jobs used this Alan Kay quote, on stage then. Real technologists must have guessed it then – but it wasnt until Apple bought PA Semi – the 150 employee semiconductor startup – in 2008, that most people in the tech industry actually figured out what Apple was up to. And the iPad launch event confirmed what everyone had suspected all along – that Apple is building its own chip – and – betting its future on it as well.

1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip

Thats from Apple’s official iPad tech specs page. But what it doesnt say, but many people noticed is that the iPad is fast – real fast. Just read these:

Apple didn’t really sell this point, but it’s the single biggest benefit of the iPad: speed. It feels at least a generation faster than the iPhone 3GS. Lags and waits are gone, and the OS and apps respond just as quickly as you’d hope. Rotating between portrait and landscape modes, especially, is where this new horsepower manifests in the OS. (Gizmodo)

The speed of the CPU is something to be marveled at. It is blazingly fast from what we can tell. Webpages loaded up super fast, and scrolling was without a hiccup. Moving into and out of apps was a breeze. Everything flew. (Engadget)

Well, that confirms what Steve Jobs said on stage – “It screams”.  Waht does A4 mean, for Apple’s future plans?

  1. Some day in the near future, all of Apple’s mobile devices would run on A4, or an A4 variant.
  2. The iPad is a powerful device, and it enables all kinds of games and apps that need more horsepower than whats available on the iPhone or other devices.
  3. Multitasking on the iPad is coming. and this might not require a hardware upgrade – the processing power is already out there.
  4. There is a lot of improvement possible on the A4. Reports say that competing processors offer upto 16 hours of battery life (compared to 10 hours on the iPad). Can Apple compete in this game?
  5. Improved margins for Apple on the iPad

We’ll wait till April, so we can get more details on exactly whats there on the A4.

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  • junior said:

    This is a test comment.

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