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Report: Apple's 64-bit A7 chip 'stunned' the chipmaking industry

updated 10:41 am EST, Tue December 17, 2013

Unveiling set off panic at Qualcomm

Apple reportedly "stunned" chipmakers when it introduced the iPhone 5s' A7 system-on-chip (SoC) in September, as the first company to embrace 64-bit architecture for mobile platforms. In a HubSpot blog post from Dan Lyons, which was spotted by AppleInsider, an unnamed source within Samsung noted that Apple's announcement was widely downplayed by competitors "but it set off panic in the industry."

"We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared," the source said. "It's not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won't benefit. But in Spinal Tap terms it's like, 32 more, and now everyone wants it."

The lack of mobile applications that could work in 64-bit mode at the time of the announcement led a Qualcomm executive to dismiss the chip as a marketing gimmick. Internally, however, the company is said to have adjusted its roadmap to follow the same path. The executive later backtracked before being reassigned to a different position within the company.

"The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple's, since no one thought it was that essential," the Qualcomm source added.

Qualcomm, Broadcom and Nvidia are reportedly set to bring their own 64-bit quad-core chips to Android devices sometime in the first half of 2014, while Samsung claims its 64-bit Exynos processor is already set for mass production. Google has yet to publicly announce the Android development work that would be necessary to fully take advantage of 64-bit operation, however.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. Lifeisabeach

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-25-10

    "The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple's, since no one thought it was that essential," the Qualcomm source added.

    Going 64-bit may not be "essential" at this point, but by the time it does become truly essential, the majority of iOS apps will already be 64-bit capable. Doing it now makes sense. Catching the industry with their pants down is simply a bonus.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Yep, very similar to the desktop switch to 64-bit as well. Most people didn't have computers that required 64-bit addressing, and those that did already had 32-bit desktop operating systems that were updated to work around the 32-bit limitations.

    It's a foolish thing to wait around until you absolutely need something before you start thinking about and implementing it.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    ....but then Google is going to take their sweet time on Android 64bit.

  1. climacs

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 09-06-01

    by the time Android phones and the Android OS are fully 64-bit compatible, Apple will have millions of 64-bit iOS devices out there.

    This also points to the coming unification of OS X and iOS.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No, it does not.

    But yes, there are already millions of 64-bit iOS devices out there.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I don't understand why people can't grasp the simple concept that iOS and OS X will just continue to borrow ideas from each other. It's a bit like saying that since my brother and I share so many genetic and personal traits, as we get older we will just naturally fuse into one person.

    I have no idea what Apple will do in the future, but this "unification" some people go on about is most certainly not "inevitable" -- any more than automobile companies deciding to make just one, one-size-fits-all model of car each is "inevitable."

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Originally Posted by chas_mView Post

    I don't understand why people can't grasp the simple concept that iOS and OS X will just continue to borrow ideas from each other. It's a bit like saying that since my brother and I share so many genetic and personal traits, as we get older we will just naturally fuse into one person.

    I have no idea what Apple will do in the future, but this "unification" some people go on about is most certainly not "inevitable" -- any more than automobile companies deciding to make just one, one-size-fits-all model of car each is "inevitable."



    Oh, another auto industry comparison. "Borrowing ideas" is such an oversimplification that it's pretty clear you don't work in the software industry. The more powerful mobile hardware becomes, and closer to that of desktop technology, the more and more iOS and OS X will become alike. I am willing to bet that Apple will eventually "catch up" to other companies (e.g. Canonical, MS) who are essentially on the verge of offering the same OS on mulitple platforms, including mobile and desktop.

    It's going to happen, I just don't understand why people like you refuse to believe it.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No, it is not.

    And Microsoft is a lovely illustration of why not. People are just loving Windows 8, and the Surface is flying off the shelves with a resounding thud.
    Rumor has it that Windows 8.2 will go even more bone-headed by allowing touch applications to run in their own window alongside mouse-based apps. Talk about confusion.

    What IS going to happen is that iOS is going to grow in power and capabilities, as UI designers figure out ways to develop useful touch interfaces for applications, and will REPLACE OS X in an increasing number of use cases.

    OS X will continue to live a separate life, becoming increasingly relegated and specialized towards high-end use, where iOS devices are unlikely to ever catch up in horsepower. iOS will be satellite devices for that system: we see the beginnings of this today, with Logic Remote and various controller/input surfaces running on iPad to complement the application suite running on the Mac.

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    No, it is not.

    And Microsoft is a lovely illustration of why not. People are just loving Windows 8, and the Surface is flying off the shelves with a resounding thud.
    Rumor has it that Windows 8.2 will go even more bone-headed by allowing touch applications to run in their own window alongside mouse-based apps. Talk about confusion.



    Riiiiight. Because MS's lack of success means that it cannot or will not be done. Sure.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Apple's explicit statements that they believe that to be the wrong approach, coupled with their own astounding market success, coupled with Microsoft's complete LACK of success, means that if somebody else wants to try their luck at it, it probably won't be Apple.

  1. Gazoobee

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 02-27-09

    OS X and iOS will NEVER merge. Those who think so miss the point entirely.

    Ask yourself this: "What is it that I can do with OS X that I cannot do with iOS?" Then ask it of yourself again next year, and again the year after that, ad infinitum. You will find that there is a preciously short list of things that you can do with OS X that you cannot do with iOS and furthermore, you will find that this list gets noticeably and dramatically shorter year by year.

    iOS and touch devices are the REPLACEMENT for OS X, not something to be eventually subsumed. OS X will no doubt be around for many years. There are many computers and computer systems out there that still use DOS and CLI Unix for example. For the average consumer however, "computers" (laptops, desktops, etc.) are something they neither need, nor be aware of in the near future, because iOS devices will actually serve ALL their computing needs. iOS is the future of ALL consumer computing needs.

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Interesting Keynote today @ WWDC... gee, doesn't 10.10 look and function a lot like iOS 7?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    No. It works a whole lot WITH iOS. It takes a lot of design cues and unifies appearance and brand identity across platforms.

    It integrates really nicely with iOS, but is no nearer merging with it than it's ever been, or ever will be.

    If Continuity and Handoff and iCloud Drive (with extensions on iOS) work as advertised, it'll be near perfect.

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