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PA Semi not responsible for Apple A4 chip?

updated 11:00 am EST, Mon February 8, 2010

Earlier Apple team claimed to be involved

Despite popular belief, the A4 processor in the iPad was not designed by people from PA Semi, a "very trusted" VentureBeat source claims. Apple bought the chip design firm in April of last year, and in June it was acknowledged by Steve Jobs that the aim was to produce chips for iPhone and iPod devices. The iPad has been described in the media and by analysts as an oversized iPod touch.

In reality, the source claims, the A4 is the work of an existing microprocessor team. Apple is said to have long-running experience in the field, for instance through creating northbridges for its G4- and G5-based Macs. The A4 is Apple's first entirely self-developed processor however, which could easily have exploited the skills of PA Semi.

Some engineers meanwhile speculate that the major advantage of the A4, perhaps based on PA Semi's work, could be an ability to selectively lower or shutoff power in different parts of the chip, which would explain the iPad's 10-hour battery life. Similarly the chip may be able to offload a lot of work to the graphics processor, keeping hardware cool by lowering clock speed elsewhere. Competing devices leave their GPUs idle much of the time, one commentator observes.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. FineTunes

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Way to go Apple

    I had commented on another post that I thought Apple was going in a new direction by designing its own chips. Comments were made that Apple only bought the chip and put their logo on it. This post makes it clear Apple did design the chip--after all they do own the company so why not put your name on it.

  1. Outdo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +8

    Long-Running Experience

    If I remember correctly, Apple had a Cray computer in the 1980's with which they designed macs. When the Cray was ordered, Seymour Cray was rumored to have said that it was perfect symmetry since he designed the Cray using a Mac.

  1. VinitaBoy

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    Snarky . . .

    "The iPad has been described in the media and by analysts as an oversized iPod touch."

    And the Kindle DX has been described all over the web as an overpriced, flimsy, one-trick pony that is now dead, dead, dead in the water. So what?

    Why the snarky comment, MacNN? EVERY PRODUCT has been called something derogatory at one time or another (the iPhone's initial release, anyone?), so what's your point? Ever heard of bash-blogging? If you don't think some in the "media" and some "analysts" aren't shilling for Intel, Nokia, Motorola, Asus, HP, Dell, Palm, Microsoft, Verizon, Gateway, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Acer, Fujitsu, Sony, Lenovo, RIM, and the like, your naivete knows no bounds.

    None of the above companies and interests can afford ANY success of the iPad and its successors. NONE . . . and you don't think THEIR voices have found they way into "media comments and analysts advisories"? Hmmm.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -1

    What's this existing microprocessing team?

    Are these people part of some Apple internal processing team and they're not using PA Semi resources? What would be the point of that? Maybe I'd better stop reading these articles. I'm getting really confused. Did Apple just take the A4 chip from another company and stick its own name on it? I believe I read somewhere that this A4 chip was an older design, so maybe it is a design that was started before Apple acquired PA Semi and this chip doesn't benefit from later PA Semi designs. I guess it doesn't make much sense to speculate about this stuff. Either the chip is good or it isn't. I hope the battery life claims hold up with only a 10% margin of error.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    iPod Touch

    The iPod touch is the most successful tablet computer of all time. But it lacks one thing to make it truly great as a tablet computer - a larger screen.

    Frankly, calling the iPad a large iPod touch, just means someone is more familiar with the term "iPod Touch" and less familiar with the term "iPad".

    It doesn't inherently mean a thing...its not a real point, it doesn't say anything valid.

    I'll be glad if the iPad was renamed the iPod Touch DX.....doesn't matter to me, I want my tablet computer to have a decent sized screen and run iWorks, which the iPod touch cannnot do.

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