ARM architecture Stories December 13, 2013

Expect even better 3D gaming from A8 chip as ARM acquires Geomerics

If you thought the gaming performance of Apple’s 64-bit A7 chip was good, there is likely even better to come in future following ARM’s acquisition of 3D gaming specialist Geomerics.

Geomerics specialises in photo-realistic graphics, and its technology is used in games like Battlefield 4, Inquisition and Primal Carnage. The company’s Enlighten system means that once a light-source like the sun has been positioned in a scene, Enlighten takes care of generating all the shadows, reports VentureBeat.

“Enlighten has helped EA provide new levels of realism and gameplay experience in titles such as our highly popular Battlefield franchise,” said Carl Almgren, Head of Development, Frostbite Game Engine. “We’re delighted that ARM is committed to on-going development on all the key game console platforms and graphics architectures, as well as the on-going development of Geomerics’ technologies.”

The company will be a subsidiary of ARM, but continue to operate independently.

ARM architecture Stories May 16, 2013

Outgoing Intel CEO Paul Otellini’s big regret? Not landing an Intel chip in Apple’s iPhone

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Interesting exit interview with Intel CEO Paul Otellini wherein he says (duh) he regrets not trying harder not to get his chips inside the iPhone (and subsequently iPod touch and iPads).

But, oh, what could have been! Even Otellini betrayed a profound sense of disappointment over a decision he made about a then-unreleased product that became the iPhone. Shortly after winning Apple’s Mac business, he decided against doing what it took to be the chip in Apple’s paradigm-shifting product.

“We ended up not winning it or passing on it, depending on how you want to view it. And the world would have been a lot different if we’d done it,” Otellini told me in a two-hour conversation during his last month at Intel. “The thing you have to remember is that this was before the iPhone was introduced and no one knew what the iPhone would do… At the end of the day, there was a chip that they were interested in that they wanted to pay a certain price for and not a nickel more and that price was below our forecasted cost. I couldn’t see it. It wasn’t one of these things you can make up on volume. And in hindsight, the forecasted cost was wrong and the volume was 100x what anyone thought.”

While there seems to be some sentiment that if Otellini had tried, Intel would have won Apple’s iOS device business. But, it clearly isn’t that simple. ARM chips use an order of magnitude less power than Intel chips, even to this day.

Also, if Intel is so great at powering mobile device chips, why wouldn’t Android devices (And Windows 8 devices!) have used them as an advantage?

Steve Jobs and Apple prioritized efficiency over raw power which may have proved to be one of the winning advantages of the feature-rich iPhone and iPad over a decade plus of Windows machines.

ARM architecture Stories March 1, 2013

The hacked apart cable costs as much as a Roku because it has the same kind of horsepower

The fine software developers over at Panic are working on some new AV software, and they are investigating Apple’s new-ish Lightning Digital AV Adapter. What they found is that unlike the earlier 30-pin module, the Lightning adapter doesn’t carry a native 1080p signal. In fact, when mirroring, Apple says the optimum resolution is 1,600-by-900, and, when that signal is shown on a 1080p display, it is likely up-converted, showing artifacts consistent with streaming and uncompressing video data

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 9.40.50 PMBefore it is ripped apart, via Amazon

What’s more interesting is that they split open the cable and found a full ARM processor with 256MB of RAM to process video signals inside the adapter cable. We knew way back in September that the 8-pin adapter wouldn’t carry video natively, but Apple was able to build a cable. How? Panic thinks that it is actually streaming an AirPlay network signal through the cable, and the ARM processor is decoding it.

Why would Apple do this? It’s likely Apple wants to move people to AirPlay wireless streaming to Apple TV, so this is just a stopgap solution. Rather than making a larger Lightning cable, it sacrificed on wired video-out quality and HDMI (And VGA?) cable costs.

Update: Our friends at Braeburn and an anonymous Apple Engineer sent along their takes on the situation below:

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ARM architecture Stories October 18, 2012

Samsung/Google’s new ARM-powered Chromebook looks like a MacBook Air, costs just $249

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The price is right, and the processor is an interesting choice (ARM), but unfortunately, the look is unmistakably Apple.

ARM architecture Stories October 15, 2012

Just before we heard Apple was not using an ARM-designed processor and instead its first custom CPU design for the new iPhone’s A6, we also heard reports that Apple was reducing component orders from Samsung due to the two companies’ ongoing patent disputes. While we knew Samsung was still—at the very least—manufacturing the new chip, a report from KoreaTimes gives more insight into the company’s involvement directly from a Samsung official. According to the report, the A6 is the first of Apple’s iPhone chips where Samsung did not contribute to development of the technology:

According to industry sources, Apple has not collaborated with Samsung in the process to develop its A6 microprocessor used in its latest iPhone 5. Samsung has handled the manufacturing of the processors used in previous iPhones and believed to have contributed in their design to some degree… It now appears that the structure of the deal has been dramatically adjusted…Apple is still relying on the Korean firm to manufacture its chips but has made it clear it will no longer use its rival’s technology.

We heard conflicting reports in September regarding Apple’s decision to reduce component orders from its biggest supplier, Samsung. Reuters claimed the reduction in orders was an attempt to simply “widen its supply chain,” while others reported Apple is actively reducing orders of displays, memory chips, and batteries specifically due to increasing tension between the companies. According to the report’s source, an unnamed senior Samsung official, Samsung is now only manufacturing the A6 chips on a “foundry basis”:

“There are three kinds of chip clients. Some want us to handle everything from chip design, architecture and manufacturing. Some want us to just design and manufacture. Some want us to just make the chips. Apple is now the third type,’’

Related to today’s report: Apple’s recent hiring of Samsung chip designer Jim Mergard. The report claimed the hiring of Mergard, who was working specifically on ARM chip designs at Samsung and prior, increases the “mutual tension”… expand full story

The best 4K & 5K displays for Mac

ARM architecture Stories October 1, 2012

Former Apple CEO John Sculley recently attended a South Florida Technology Alliance event to discuss Apple and the genesis of tablet computing, specifically: the Newton MessagePad and ARM Processor.

The MessagePad is the first series of ARM 610 RISC processor-based mobile devices developed by Apple for the Newton OS platform in 1993. Since then, it has become the dominant platform for mobile computing.

“Handwriting was never intended to be a very important aspect of it. […] It was really much more about the fact that you could hold this thing in your hand and it would do a lot of the graphics that you would see on the Macintosh,” explained Sculley at SFTA.

The tablet-like digital assistant spurred a flurry of models with various ARM processor. The series is generally remembered as a market flop now, of course, but Apple’s ARM initiative essentially paved the way for greatness. As The Next Web first noted, the iPhone today uses a by-product of the Newton MessagePad’s specifically designed ARM core.

“No microprocessor existed that would allow you to do mobile graphics-based software,” Sculley revealed, while discussing the birth of ARM.

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