iPhone 5 shows an Apple first: custom CPU core design

By , Network World |  Mobile & Wireless, Apple, iPhone 5

"To push frequency you have to push voltage, which has an exponential impact on power consumption," according to another post by Lal Shimpi. "Running your cores as close as possible to their minimum voltage is ideal for battery life. The right approach to scaling CPU performance is a combination of increasing architectural efficiency ([the number of] instructions executed per clock goes up), multithreading and conservative frequency scaling."

With full control of its CPU design, Apple now can exploit these kinds of synergies.

And that's one reason why Apple hasn't rushed into quad-core CPU designs for the iPhone. A range of tech blogs and news sites argued last year and this year that quad-core CPUs were needed to "compete" with Android smartphones that were making use of these powerful processors, such as the LG Optimus 4X HD and HTC One X.

"The problem with quad-core today is that apps must be modified to use all four cores," says Linley. "Few Android apps, for example, can do that, so Apple is not at a big disadvantage by having a dual core. By mid-2013, however, quad-core Android apps will be common, as will quad-core Android phones, so I think it would be a good time for Apple to follow suit."

But the real change, likely in 2014 according to Linley, will be a shift to 64-bit chip architectures for mobile processors. Linley believes Apple is already at work on this, likely implementing the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set.

"A 64-bit processor can more easily handle 4GB of DRAM and higher," Linley says. "The iPhone 5 uses 1GB of DRAM [itself doubling the DRAM of iPhone 4S], and some competing phones use 2GB, so it is easy to imagine an iPhone in 2014 with 4GB of DRAM. Also, ARM has included many other innovations in its 64-bit ARMv8 design, so it's kind of a package deal. If Apple wants to keep pace with the leading ARM processors, it has to go to 64 bits in 2014."

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww Email: john_cox@nww.com

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Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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