Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 28th Jan 2010 20:21 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems And yet another item on the iPad? Are we serious? Yes, we are, since this one is about something that even geeks who aren't interested in the iPad itself should find intriguing. Steve Jobs said yesterday that the iPad is powered by an Apple A4 processor, but contrary to what many seem to think - it wasn't designed in-house at all.
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ARM
by torbenm on Fri 29th Jan 2010 09:57 UTC
torbenm
Member since:
2007-04-23

Apple did, indeed, own a substantial part of ARM when ARM was spun off from Acorn Computers. This was when Apple used ARM in its Newton (which is the spiritual ancestor of iPad). Selling these shares again must be one of Apple's worst business decisions (unless they did so at the height of the Internet bubble).

As for the A4 design, I also believe more in PowerVR than Mali -- it is a more natural development from iPhone. The core is most likely Cortex A9, as stated, though.

As for Windows on ARM. WinCE already runs on ARM, but I doubt Win7 ever will. As others have said, Windows is nothing without all the applications running on it, and they are (nearly) all exclusively x86. In the long run, Microsoft is likely to host Windows on .NET to gain hardware independence, but they would need to convince a large number of third party software producers to make that move. And that will not be easy. In an interim period, non-x86 versions of Windows could run x86 in emulation, just like Apple emulated M68000 on PPC or like Digital emulated x86 in the Alpha version of NT. If a JIT-like strategy is used (similar to Digital's Fx!32) and the most common shared libraries are ported natively, the speed penalty doesn't need to be that large.

Similarly, I expect Apple to move their entire line from iPod to iMac to use LLVM for code distribution. As yet, LLVM isn't mature enough for this, though, but it would make it a lot easier for Apple to switch processor (yet again). The most likely move would be to switch x86 to ARM for MacBooks and iMacs, but in the long run, they will need a 64-bit processor. I would be surprised if ARM didn't have something like that up its development sleeve, though.

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