Fri, Aug 29, 2014, 2:11 AM EDT - U.S. Markets open in 7 hrs 19 mins

Recent

% | $
Quotes you view appear here for quick access.

Intel Corporation Message Board

  • ltisteve@verizon.net ltisteve Oct 16, 2011 11:45 AM Flag

    Apple has more than 1000 engineers working on processors

    Apple has more than a thousand engineers working on mobile processors, according to a “Veteran” Silicon Valley CEO who knew Steve Jobs personally.

    Characterized by their low power consumption and high performance, these chips are a vital part of the “Post-PC” future Apple is betting on.

    Apple employees more than 50,000 people, out of which 30,000 work in retail. The thousand employees working on next generation chips amount to five percent of the company’s non-retail staff.



    The source in a conversation with TechCrunch’sErick Schonfeld said:

    “Steve Jobs told me he has 1,000 engineers working on chips. Getting low power and smaller is the key to everything.”

    Apple started building up its in-house chip design team after acquiring P. A. Semi in 2008, with an intention to produce chips that “help run increasingly sophisticated software on iPhones and iPods”. Intel, Apple’s longtime partner for processors on Macs and AMD were stuck in the post PC-era, which is another reason why Apple chose to get things done themselves.

    Just earlier this month, DigiTimes reported that Apple’s manufacturing partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) had sent a 60 member team to Apple to talk about upcoming A-series processors.

    Another trend that Apple devices seem to be adopting – replacing traditional hard drives with flash memory. The Silicon Valley CEO says that when these two “Post-PC” trends are combined “form factor no longer becomes an issue”.

    Have you noticed how every new iteration of an Apple product delivers better performance, manages to maintain the same battery life (in some cases such as the iPhone 4S, Apple manages to improve battery life slightly)?


    Apple has already said that it invested a huge amount of money a few years ago in flash based memory, foreseeing that it would be an important component in the future. During the Q1 2011 Earnings call, Apple’s CFO Peter Oppenheimer noted that it has made a similar investment into one such component, not revealing what it was. While at that time, people speculated it could be touch screens (Retina displays), this piece of information can even mean that they were processors.

    Makes sense right? Why would a team of 60 members from TSMC come all the way from Taiwan to Apple’s offices in the U.S unless there’s something big.

    So what does all this mean for us? According to TechCrunch writer MG Siegler, he’s been told that these post-PC products will blow our mind away.



    http://www.iphonefirmware.com/2011/10/11/apple-reportedly-1000-engineers-working-chips-post-pc-products/



    ______________________________________

    SortNewest  |  Oldest  |  Most Replied Expand all replies
    • Another seperate issue is that there seems to be some kind wall that has been hit with processor speed. I've heard that ARM will eventually come out with a 3ghz processor (interesting because that was the speed the PowerPC RISC processor was promised to hit, but didn't before Apple switched to Intel). I have a feeling that a phone with a faster CPU speed rating will smoke all the slower multi-core processors. I am curious as they reach for faster and faster processors if power consumption will take too much of a hit. Of course running on a thinner core will help, which is why that TSMC is trying to get down to 28nm. The first ones are supposed to be made this quarter which may be going to Apple for a prototype for the new iPhone5 coming out next year.

      There are going to be two different issues. The first is having the refference CPU to build the SoC's around. The speed at which this has to be done is probably the reason why Apple has so many engineers working on this project. The second and larger issue is TSCM will have to supply the huge processor demand that will follow for this phone. That means consistent yields. I'll be curuios of this can all be worked out by next June.

      I still think Apple should go with Intel for the iPhone 5. Intel's 22nm Atom will be out much sooner than TSMC will have their 28nm ARM processors ready. The extra six months to a year lead could add up to a lot of sales for Apple.
      ------

      Clock speeds are still increasing while maintaining the 1watt power envelope (Samsung's latest SoC @ 1.4). The A9 in current SoC's tops out at around 2 GHz. The A15 in the next gen will top out at 2.5Ghz (but is 40% faster than the A9 when everything else is the same). Clock speed alone is a poor comparison metric.

      When you buy an CPU from ARM, you just slap it into your SoC, very little fiddling.

      You'll see ARM @28 nm before you see Atom @22, perhaps even Medfield @ 32nm. The SoC's are sampling and are at OEM's now.

      It's not all about TSMC. TI will be using UMC as it's lead for 28nm and Samsung is also in the 28nm race:

      http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4229790/Samsung-ramping-Apple-A6-chips

      "Samsung is ramping production of the A6 quad-core application processor for Apple because rival foundry TSMC has yet to stabilize its own production of the same chip, according to a Korea Times report that referenced un-named Apple component suppliers as its sources.

      Apple's continued reliance on Samsung's foundry operation, which is making A6 processors on a 28-nm CMOS process out of its wafer fab in Austin Texas, comes despite an increasingly litigious battle between the companies at the system level where both are seeking to prevent the sale of the others smart phones because of alleged patent infringements."

    • It doesnt matter if Apple has 100,000 of the best engineers. ARM architecture will always be inherently inferior to Intel-based x86 processors in terms of performance. Throw in the fact that Intel controls their manufacturing (which be an increasingly important variable to performance going forward) & legacy applications will ALWAYS be important, Intel will win in the end....

      • 2 Replies to backbay_bstn
      • It doesnt matter if Apple has 100,000 of the best engineers. ARM architecture will always be inherently inferior to Intel-based x86 processors in terms of performance. Throw in the fact that Intel controls their manufacturing (which be an increasingly important variable to performance going forward) & legacy applications will ALWAYS be important, Intel will win in the end....
        -----

        Back in the day when ARM chips where used in desktops (286/386 days) ARM had no problem in outperforming x86. Times have changed, but there is nothing in the ARM ISA (64 bit aside) that prohibits it competing at the highest levels of performance.

        That said, ARM cores will never compete with Intel at highest level. ARM's focus is on performance per watt...

        Win or lose? x86 and ARM can coexist quite nicely...

      • ltisteve@verizon.net ltisteve Oct 16, 2011 2:19 PM Flag

        You're right, Apple is currently suffering due to not having control of a FAB. They have enough cash to build one but not enough volume to keep it going efficiently over the long run.

        Tim Cook is a logistics guy, he is the guy who got Apple more efficient with inventory. I just don't see him making bold moves into buying a FAB or doing something where he exposes the company to more risk, and lower margins.

        The thing that really gets me wondering about Apple is that their ARM devices, the iPhone and iPad are premium products. And they are messing around with TSMC and Samsung? I'm sorry but that's kinda like being known for making the best burgers in town, and in reality outsourcing the production of them to McDonalds.

    • ltisteve@verizon.net ltisteve Oct 16, 2011 12:06 PM Flag

      There are a couple of ways you can look at this. The first is "Oh no,this is bad for Intel" which the ARM fan boys would want you to think. It goes along with the notion that Apple is trying to kick out Intel.

      The way I look at it is that Apple is spending tens of millions of years to customize ARM for their devices. So does Nvidia and Qualcom. So, where is this wonderful synergy I keep hearing about in the ARM community of manufactures?

      The stock Intel processors don't need further internal investment on R&D and Apple has seen sales increases with Intel processor based computers.

      If you are Apple, how good would you feel in investing tens of millions of dollars each year in processor design, and sharing the plans with Samsung, or the same company that makes Nvidia processors?

      The one good thing from this is that Apple takes processors seriously. I think that the Core i5 processors in their Macbook Air shows that Intel can help Apple go where it wants to go.

      What would you say if Apple had 1000 engineers working on Intel processors to make them suitable for their devices? The ARM fanboys would have a field day with this! Funny how they can play it down when the opposite is true.

      • 1 Reply to ltisteve
      • There are a couple of ways you can look at this. The first is "Oh no,this is bad for Intel" which the ARM fan boys would want you to think. It goes along with the notion that Apple is trying to kick out Intel.

        The way I look at it is that Apple is spending tens of millions of years to customize ARM for their devices. So does Nvidia and Qualcom. So, where is this wonderful synergy I keep hearing about in the ARM community of manufactures?
        ------

        The ARM cores in all (known) Nvidia and Apple SoC's are standard unaltered ARM cores (although the Tegra 2 has the SIMD unit removed). That article (and your conclusion) make the classic mistake of mixing the context of a 'mobile processor' (the SoC) and the application CPU in the SoC (the ARM core). Apple may have 1000 engineers, but they will be working on the SoC, not on the CPU. There is scope for a stealth project within Apple (their own ARM implementation - 64 bit?) but given how good 'standard' ARM cores are, this is unlikely (in my view).

        Qualcomm and Marvell are special cases as they have designed their own core based on the ARM ISA. Any of the ARM architectural holders can do this (Intel, Microsoft, Nvida, Qualcomm and Marvell).

    • Intel is a ticking time bomb to the downside. How many times do I have to say this: Intel is DONE!

 
INTC
34.65-0.14(-0.40%)Aug 28 4:00 PMEDT

Trending Tickers

i
Trending Tickers features significant U.S. stocks showing the most dramatic increase in user interest in Yahoo Finance in the previous hour over historic norms. The list is limited to those equities which trade at least 100,000 shares on an average day and have a market cap of more than $300 million.