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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RE: So my wild guess
by tylerdurden on Fri 29th Jan 2010 20:05 UTC in reply to "So my wild guess"
tylerdurden
Member since:
2009-03-17

Apple is an ARM licensee, and they bought the whole PA Semi team not for the PPC tech but for their SOC design experience (it was cheaper to just get the whole team, that re-hire and start an inhouse SOC team).

Chances are that they went through Samsung, since Apple already sources their ARM chips for the iPhone through them.

BTW, TI went fabless, so technically they don't make chips either. So it makes little sense for Apple to have their own SoC team, and then go through TI en route to the actual fabs.

If Apple is not using Samsung, then there are basically 3 major 3rd party fabs they may be using: either TSMC, Chartered/Global Foundries, or UMC. As I said, since they already have a fabbing partnership going with Samsung, chances are they do the A4 through them too. My guess is that the A4 is being "tested" in the iPad first, and then once the process if fine tuned (or moved to a smaller feature size) it makes its way into the iPhone. That approach allows Apple to get the design in a bigger form factor (read less heat and power issues due to larger size and larger battery) and then fine tune it for the more constrained iPhone design space.

It is a fairly good approach from a business/engineering perspective.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: So my wild guess
by Kroc on Fri 29th Jan 2010 22:03 in reply to "RE: So my wild guess"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Reminds me of the Commodore days, though they went on to totally squander what they had.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: So my wild guess
by tylerdurden on Fri 29th Jan 2010 22:12 in reply to "RE[2]: So my wild guess"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

No need to look all the way back to 1980. Fabless semiconductor design houses are the norm not the exception, and that has been the case for over a decade at least.

The only companies left that do their own processor design and fabbing are intel and IBM. And IBM will most likely get rid of their fab (and maybe processor design teams too) some time in the near future.

Edited 2010-01-29 22:13 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1