Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Apple's A4 Chipset Packs ARM CPU and Graphics

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 32 comments

What makes your iPad tick, Apple?

Apple made a huge splash yesterday when it announced the iPad. Even bigger but way less reported news was Steve Jobs' casual mentioning that Apple had used its own processor in the device. The 1GHz Apple A4 represents Apple's first ever processor and is the fruit of a PA Semi purchase in 2008.

However, it seems the A4 has a lot in common with Nvidia's Tegra 2; in fact, the Bright Side of News reports that the SOC is all ARM and lambastes Steve Jobs for implying Apple or even PA Semi had anything to do with the creation of the A4 at all.

Steve Jobs incorrectly addressed Apple A4 as a CPU. We're not sure was this to keep the mainstream press enthused, but A4 is not a CPU. Or we should say, it's not just a CPU. Nor did PA Semi/Apple had anything to do with the creation of the CPU component. A4 is a System-on-a-Chip, or SOC, that integrates the main processor [ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore i.e. Multi-Processing Core, identical to ones used in nVidia Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon] with graphics silicon [ARM Mali 50-Series GPU], and other functions like the memory controller on one piece of silicon.

Bright Side explains that last June, during the GlobalFoundries event in Las Vegas, the site sat down with Warren East, CEO of ARM. One of the things they discussed was "a new member of the family," which we now know was Apple.

Read the full story here.

Display 32 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 18 Hide
    zak_mckraken , January 28, 2010 1:52 PM
    Well, it's gonna shut the folks who were arguing on the A4 vs. Snapdragon!
  • 18 Hide
    Marcus Yam , January 28, 2010 1:59 PM
    xbeatertoo many news posts on this apple stuff. More than half of the people here dont care much anymore for the iPad.

    Maybe you could try changing your perspective to realize that this is another HUGE step for ARM processor technologies.

    Even if you find Apple-related processor technologies something completely outside the realm of your interests, the advancement and growing utilization of ARM products will affect parts of the tech industry that might interest you.

    For example, the performance jump of the Intel Atom between Diamondville and Pine Trail isn't as big as what we normally expect. Perhaps it's the lack of competition in the mobile and netbook space that's allowing the Atom continue its existence without the type of advancement that we'd like to see.

    With the growing use of ARM-based technologies in things like the iPad and Nvidia Tegra 2 (which will soon be in netbooks), Intel -- and hopefully AMD too -- will have a better reason to step things up in its next generation of chip technologies.

    I bet that more than half of the people here care about that sort of stuff.
Other Comments
  • -8 Hide
    N.Broekhuijsen , January 28, 2010 1:49 PM
    too many news posts on this apple stuff. More than half of the people here dont care much anymore for the iPad.
  • -1 Hide
    Hiniberus , January 28, 2010 1:51 PM
    Well someone just shat themselves if this is true.
  • 18 Hide
    zak_mckraken , January 28, 2010 1:52 PM
    Well, it's gonna shut the folks who were arguing on the A4 vs. Snapdragon!
  • 5 Hide
    fazers_on_stun , January 28, 2010 1:56 PM
    You'd think El Jobso would have known what CPU the iNapkin uses :D .
  • 18 Hide
    Marcus Yam , January 28, 2010 1:59 PM
    xbeatertoo many news posts on this apple stuff. More than half of the people here dont care much anymore for the iPad.

    Maybe you could try changing your perspective to realize that this is another HUGE step for ARM processor technologies.

    Even if you find Apple-related processor technologies something completely outside the realm of your interests, the advancement and growing utilization of ARM products will affect parts of the tech industry that might interest you.

    For example, the performance jump of the Intel Atom between Diamondville and Pine Trail isn't as big as what we normally expect. Perhaps it's the lack of competition in the mobile and netbook space that's allowing the Atom continue its existence without the type of advancement that we'd like to see.

    With the growing use of ARM-based technologies in things like the iPad and Nvidia Tegra 2 (which will soon be in netbooks), Intel -- and hopefully AMD too -- will have a better reason to step things up in its next generation of chip technologies.

    I bet that more than half of the people here care about that sort of stuff.
  • 3 Hide
    tikrjee , January 28, 2010 2:24 PM
    fazers_on_stunYou'd think El Jobso would have known what CPU the iNapkin uses .

    It seems Jobs assumes his customers are technologically inept. Though, there's little argument that the processor is a capable little chip. Too bad the (max)iPad doesn't use it to it's fullest potential.
  • -1 Hide
    insider3 , January 28, 2010 2:27 PM
    I would buy an Ipad only to download a portrait of Steve Jobs on it, so I can facepalm it.
  • 0 Hide
    patchez , January 28, 2010 2:52 PM
    why so much hate for the name iPad?
    i think it's a great way to recognize the PADD in which most touch screen devices were all modeled.
  • -9 Hide
    patchez , January 28, 2010 2:52 PM
    why so much hate for the name iPad?
    i think it's a great way to recognize the PADD in which most touch screen devices were all modeled.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2010 3:02 PM
    The author clearly doesn't understand that "integrating" a main processing core with a graphics core and other system management functions is a non-trivial task.
    It's not like buying RAM and cramming it into a DIMM slot.
  • -1 Hide
    siuol11 , January 28, 2010 3:02 PM
    I would be interested, but it is a BSN report... So equal parts sucking up to Nvidia/wishful thinking.
    But accurate news rag? Very rarely!
  • 0 Hide
    dheadley , January 28, 2010 3:21 PM
    First of all if you go read the article at the source then you will also read all the comments that go with it that pretty much sum this whole story up as a rumor mill/prediction piece.

    They claim a MALI-50 GPU which is a step down from the PowerVR chip in the iPhone 3GS and makes that a pretty much no-brainer for incorrect info.
  • 5 Hide
    tipoo , January 28, 2010 3:24 PM
    So its like the Tegra 2, only with one Cortex A9 instead of two, and an inferior graphics component.
  • 3 Hide
    dheadley , January 28, 2010 3:25 PM
    I also fail to see how Snapdragon is a Qualcomm chip, Z-whatever is a Creative/Zii chip and Tegra a Nvidia chip if the A4 is not a Apple chip. The same stuff is done by every one of those SoC's.
  • 5 Hide
    tipoo , January 28, 2010 3:26 PM
    dheadleyI also fail to see how Snapdragon is a Qualcomm chip, Z-whatever is a Creative/Zii chip and Tegra a Nvidia chip if the A4 is not a Apple chip. The same stuff is done by every one of those SoC's.


    Those are all SoC's, not CPU's. They are built around existing ARM processor designs. That is what the article is saying.
  • 0 Hide
    hakesterman , January 28, 2010 3:39 PM
    It's not going away, Sorry.
  • 1 Hide
    pocketdrummer , January 28, 2010 3:54 PM
    I find the iFlop hatred hilarious. Apple has ridden on their silver-tongued marketing for far too long. Finally, people are beginning to see the products as they are.

    Maybe now people will come to their senses about the exorbitant prices.
  • 3 Hide
    Miharu , January 28, 2010 3:58 PM
    Cute Soc but probably no enough power to play HD movie. You can probably play correctly movie up to 768p because the screen is actually 1024x768. If you consider 720p as HD­, this is lowres HD. But if you consider like me, blueray is real HD 1080p. This thing coudn't handle the real HD at 1080p (1920x1080!!!!). The fact is... they remove HDMI port...
  • 5 Hide
    eyemaster , January 28, 2010 4:53 PM
    Well I'm now even more dissapointed. Here I was thinking that Apple actually designed a cpu for their own good...
  • 2 Hide
    pharge , January 28, 2010 5:25 PM
    eyemasterWell I'm now even more dissapointed. Here I was thinking that Apple actually designed a cpu for their own good...


    well... I guess you forgot it is teh Apple!

    They don't invent things... they put things together in a nice little pretty package and sell it!

    ;) 
Display more comments