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The Genius In Apple's Vertical Platform 432

Precision found a nice little piece of speculation on the real reason behind Apple's recent efforts to restrict app development to XCode. While the standard given reason is to kill competition from Flash and other stacks, this story speculates that the real reason has to do with the unusually large die size of the A4 processor inside the iPads. Worth a quick read.
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The Genius In Apple's Vertical Platform

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  • First post! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cpotoso ( 606303 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:27AM (#31857432) Journal
    He! He!

    I think the article is absolute nonsense. The A4 has been "disassembled" and it is consistent with an ARM single core.

  • by carlhaagen ( 1021273 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:29AM (#31857452)
    The article is missing a big point: it IS ARM. Just debugging the code shows it is ARM, not PPC. "No one really knows." Geez. Step into the "reverse engineering" of 1980 already.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:30AM (#31857466)

    The die size is due to putting memory chips on die for lower latency.
    It doesn't contain magical other processors.

    But this guy has a pet theory about Apple and damned if he's gonna let facts get in the way of his idea!

  • by ubersoldat2k7 ( 1557119 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:34AM (#31857526)
    No, but it's doable: []
  • by ircmaxell ( 1117387 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:38AM (#31857596) Homepage
    It would make sense... If it wasn't filled with nonsense. The larger die? It's because the system RAM is built into the chip. Not because it's running some new dual core design. Apple banned writing in another language. Not compiling using anything but XCode. Some of the converters out there will covert down to Objective-C and then compile them with XCode. With his speculation in the article, that should be fine (because it's compiling with their compiler, and should be the exact same as if written in O-C in the first place), but it's banned. I do agree that it is well written. But well reasoned? It starts with a pair of flawed premises, and then makes some pretty good reasoning based on them. But all of that reasoning is inherently flawed due to the flawed premise.

    What bothers me, is that people who don't know any better will read this article and think "Woah, cool! They are doing something smart!" when it's all really unjustified based on his reasoning (I'm not going to comment on if it really is smart or not)...
  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:42AM (#31857678) Homepage

    Its just the GUI apps that it suspends, all the backend stuff still works fine otherwise as soon as you ssh'd into a jailbroken iphone everything else would hang while ssh ran.

  • Re:First post! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Virak ( 897071 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:47AM (#31857748) Homepage

    The article mainly hinges on the possibility that the iPad isn't using ARM to be wild speculation instead of merely completely insane speculation. The fact that this is already known to be false is a pretty major blow to it. And the fact that this policy affects things that produce code in approved languages and even things that produce Xcode projects to go with it pretty much completely destroys the argument that it's some wise and enlightened choice they have made for the good of developers and not just a complete dick move. It doesn't help either that Jobs himself [] endorses this particular rationalization [] of it, which puts forth a completely different argument.

  • "WTF" moment (Score:5, Informative)

    by rodrigoandrade ( 713371 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @10:52AM (#31857810)
    > Why assume the A4 is a dual-core PowerPC when it's built for an OS that restricts the use of multitasking?

    "WTF" quote of the day. What does dual-core have to do with multitasking??????????????? Windows did multitasking long before dual core chips existed.

    On a related note, the iPhone DOES multitasking; it just doesn't let the USER multitask. How do you suppose an incoming call gets through while you´re listening to music?
  • Re:First post! (Score:3, Informative)

    by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:04AM (#31858030) Homepage

    Actually, thats NOT conclusive. If anything, its the opposite. There is no layout photograph, as everything is obscured by the area pins.

    It identifies the process, and identifies a in-mask part #, but it does nothing to tell you about processor family, functional units, etc.

  • by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:11AM (#31858128)


    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Exactly what does Apple hold a monopoly over? Mac OS X? Apple iPods? Or maybe machines based on the A4 processor? Even in areas that Apple is one of the strongest, such as music sales, portable music players, or smartphones (even though that is just a subset of the cell phone market), there is still plenty of healthy and growing competition.

  • by Coren22 ( 1625475 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:19AM (#31858252) Journal

    Naa, Apple would make you pay for that kind of upgrade in the future.

  • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:27AM (#31858348)

    They are. Major software upgrades for the iPad are probably not going to be free (except maybe the first one).

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:32AM (#31858426) Journal

    The article is dreamy bullshit, but not for what you write about multitasking (especially since OS4 will provide for it, and designing hardware to cope with future demands is sensible).

    The performance analysis shows the product's CPU power matches a 1GHz Cortex A8, compared with scaling up from the 600MHz A8 in the 3GS.

    The article links to the Chipworks A4 die dissection, and the product code which is just a higher version of the 3GS product code. That certainly doesn't fit in with putting in a PowerPC core instead of the ARM core in the previous product, never mind fitting the PowerPC core to the ARM-specific internal bus and peripherals. The code name would be completely different. If there's anything that can be guaranteed, it is that the A4 utilised an ARM core.

    The Apple A4 is a 45nm version of the 3GS Samsung CPU, rebranded by Apple (because they bought Intrinsity, who developed/enhanced/tweaked the Samsung product originally). The extra transistors are accounted for by having a wider memory bus, probably more L2 cache, and maybe higher performance graphics.

    Also the guy assumed perfect transistor scaling, which doesn't happen.

  • by Steve Max ( 1235710 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:50AM (#31858644) Journal

    However, the performance difference between the old Saturn chips and the current ARMs is tremendous. The Saturn was outdated when I bought a 48G, 12 years ago. Emulating that Saturn on a current ARM is as hard as emulating a Z80; it puts almost no strain on the system.

  • by mr_mischief ( 456295 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @11:59AM (#31858778) Journal

    Not only is there plenty of competition in the smartphone market, but RIM is still the undisputed leader in the US by about 16 percent. Google more than doubled its small installed base (from 2.5% to 5.2%) between September and December. The analysis firm comScore has a press release [] covering third-quarter 2009 cell phone growth patterns.

    Worldwide, Symbian kicks everyone's ass at 47% for the year of 2009 [] (as a platform), but Nokia "only" sold 39% in the third quarter [] (as a hardware solution.

    The handset data vs. platform data is interesting, especially considering that by listing handset manufacturers Apple news sites completely avoid mentioning Google and Android. Some of the HTC, Samsung, and "others" would be listed as Windows Mobile and some would be Android or Maemo/Meego, obviously.

    Despite all the hype about the iPhone, it's still only a quarter of the US market and 16% of the worldwide market from the latest data I could find.

  • by TimTheFoolMan ( 656432 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:54PM (#31859634) Homepage Journal
    <quote><p>I don't have any problem running 10+ apps simultaneously on my Palm Pre. Perhaps some companies besides Apple can do things right! But that's unpossible!</p></quote>

    You must have an amazing Palm Pre to not get the "No additional cards can be opened at this time" error message that pops up when I try to get the 7th or 8th card open. The Palm Pre is the best illustration yet for why blind, pre-emptive multitasking in a phone OS is a bad idea.
  • by kabloom ( 755503 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @01:36PM (#31860248) Homepage

    It didn't make sense and it still doesn't. It's an Antifeature [].

  • by mR.bRiGhTsId3 ( 1196765 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:09PM (#31860716)
    I used to get the 6ish hours of battery use by carrying around a travel battery. I got a new Macbook. Now, I get the same battery life without an extra battery and I'm sure that I was a minority use case even carrying one spare battery around. I can't imagine many people carry 2 or more spare batteries around.
  • Re:GPL violation? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:25PM (#31860958)
    Apple is a big (the main?) backer of Clang and LLVM [].

    There's been much talk now about them moving away from gcc.
  • by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @02:43PM (#31861182)

    You mean all other devices are crippled by an unnecessary replaceable battery. By forgoing removability you double the battery size and lose no functionality. There is no need to remove a battery to enable another to be added. There are plenty of external battery packs available for Mac laptops and iPod/iPhones and they are easier to carry the a spare battery. They don't require you to shut down you laptop and turn it upside down. They can be used with multiple devices and multiple models of laptops. And they come in many sizes from "just give me an extra hour" to "gee I don't know i've never actually ran it all the way down".

    Oh and number of people I know that have a spare battery 0.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright