As everyone knows, apple is the highest technology company assets, even if the oil companies are difficult to match. It is also because of the abundant cash reserve, Apple Corp can have a large number of patents available. When other companies are outsourcing production parts, Apple has been customized and even internal independent development as much as possible, one of the most light is currently using A chip in iOS series devices. However, today Apple's achievement is not limited to the A chip, so that the industry is more like a fear of powerful chip manufacturers.
Vigorous development of the A series chip
About five or six years ago, when Samsung, Microsoft and HTC are dependent on Qualcomm's chip, the Apple Corp has to attract talent, build their own team of engineers for iPhone and iPad designed chip. During Apple bought two iconic companies, is the first in 2008 to $278 million acquisition of a small fabless semiconductor (fabless semiconductor), P.A. Semi, to lay the foundation for the study of engineering's independent chip.
Questioned why Apple's acquisition of P.A. Semi, after all, there have been a variety of ARM hardware as apple. Apple once again selected until the acquisition of Intrinisty, it was found that Apple's real intention, not just to get more chips in the development of talent, strengthen the hardware and software, more important is the A4 processor was born, apple did use previously the acquisition to the development of chip group and special controller.
From the 2010 launch of A4 chip, Apple will continue to expand its A series chip lineup, introduced the design and function of different target. Of course, the research and development of Apple Corp in this area are not Everything is going smoothly. with every generation, but the A chip to update and release a series of threats, this chip has been more and more in particular, A6 chip iPhone 5, Apple has become the first fully independent custom designed chip. Apple called Swift A6, while still using the ARM instruction set, but no longer use.A6 public version of the design is completely ready manual design, spend a lot of manpower resources, cost is higher, but the manual the design can usually bring higher efficiency.
The fact that A6 ran two times on the chip generation speed, combined with advanced user interface, operating system and software development framework and tools, Apple has established their advantages in application processor. With the advantages of capital, mobile application processor apple still developed very expensive, A chip performance advantages continue to expand, the generation of the A9 chip in the running of rolling opponents, but opponents often late to catch a half time.
Have to say, in just a few years, apple blew the mobile phone chip industry revolution storm, and in 2013 released the industry's first 64 intelligent mobile phone chip A7 is introduced with X variant of powerful graphics performance. Not satisfied with apple, and through the development of a world-class team continues to drive the semiconductor chip now, A series chip has become the most powerful mobile phone chip in the history of the chip.
A10 chip mounted on the inside iPhone 7, is a.A10 Fusion chip since Apple system on chip is transferred to the 64 bit processor architecture of the most significant progress not only has 3 billion 300 million transistors, and A for the first time using the quad core design, regulation mode and performance of controller in dynamic voltage and frequency under the new, can the for intelligent management of the core load, so that some of the core is completely closed, the ability to control energy consumption and high efficiency is amazing.
In this regard, today some people even praise, A10 chip mounted on the inside iPhone 7, performance is almost comparable to Intel's entry-level ultra low power chip, and the cost of manufacture, power management is more outstanding. Before the evaluation also showed that MacBook Air in the old Intel chip in the run already reflects the lack of compared with the 10, but the key is not how fast run is no matter, but play the same performance, A chip has a higher energy efficiency. At the same time, because the market is the series of product launches, A chip contrast is even more distinct.
Not only A series chips
Except for iPhone, A iPad and Apple Watch series chip design, Apple has begun to chip product line development more and more. Last year, we saw the first apple SiP in the first generation of Apple Watch (System-in-Package) small chip system in package: Apple S1, this is a design for wearable the amount of equipment super micro chip.
As the Apple S1 update products, the second generation of smart watches Apple Watch Series in the year 2, and introduced the use Apple S2 chip dual core design, will enhance the performance of the micro chip to a new height, Apple Watch increased the speed of more than 50%. In addition, S2 also added new graphics processor and the graphics processing performance to 2 times.
Not only that, apple did not forget to continue to improve the Apple S1 chip, the chip is updated in Apple Watch Series 1 smart watches, the same to design a dual core, acceleration performance, the user can feel the rapid start own use pleasure easily.
To tell the truth, Apple S1 and the S2 chip should be equivalent to only a new beginning, because the new AirPods wireless headset this year on the release of Apple's Apple W1 chip, we saw the new ultra-low power. Although apple did not disclose too many details and W1 chips, but Apple clearly said on AirPods radio any new headset experience, thanks to the ultra low power Apple W1 chip is revolutionary.
There are at least three innovation and W1 chip AirPods. The first is to simplify, one step without cohesion, with W1 iPhone or Apple Watch close to the chip as long as the immediate pairing is complete, with the industry the best automatic setting scheme. Furthermore, the W1 chip can be "stable" connection, apple said not only ordinary Bluetooth headset intermittently, but also provide excellent quality. The last point is the ultra low power consumption, the power consumption is only 1/3 of traditional wireless chip W1 chip.
In general, W1 chip not only contribute to the transmission of high quality audio, but also brought in the industry the best automatic setting scheme, and the most outstanding life time. The only question is, considering this is a wireless headset chip, whether Apple will consider providing a Apple W1 chip which is authorized after all? For the other third parties to create equal or superior quality of wireless headset accessories.
What is the next step in Apple's ambition?
Is the A system for There was no parallel in history. brand apple industry, or that no company has recently been able to achieve such a success, the team was able to develop such high quality chip. Usually for their own products to the development of such chips participants always represent the "industry leader", at least not completely lost to Qualcomm. The key is that Apple's products are hardware design "vertical integration" strategy has laid a solid foundation.
With the A series chip iPhone and iPad in the increasing dominance of the lucrative market, see the lost to apple, some pocket money vendors may have ready to start thinking, they can design their own chips. However, within a short period of time to complete the design of autonomous non-public version is not so simple, that Google has been proved.
In any case, we have seen so far the apple three chip design innovation, respectively, for the A series, S series and W series. Although S and W series has just started is still relatively new, but the pace of development in reference to past generations of A series chip, apple did not stop the fight, but is to create the first-class chip.
We do not know what the next step in apple, according to reports in recent years and broke the news, placed in front of about three signs:
- the first is the integrated modem SoC integrated chip?
What is the design of GPU graphics processor units, including modems?
- it's possible to take the A series chips to the desktop at the end of the table.
Observe the development history of the mobile phone industry SoC system on chip, integrated modem seems to be one of the must take steps, Qualcomm has done and advantage is very outstanding. Recently, quiet for a long time, Intel, began offering a modem for certain types of apple iPhone, but a few years ago there were signs that apple is also interested to build their own modem I believe, will be integrated into A series chip is only a matter of time.
In addition, from the beginning of December last year, there have been rumors that the CPU central processing unit is not only committed to the future of Apple mobile chip, but also consider the self-developed GPU graphics processing unit, related work quietly behind the scenes ", rather than the long term from the Imagination Technologies to obtain authorization. One is said to cost considerations, two is the performance factors, apple does not want to see through the reactor core GPU cluster to improve the performance of the core, more stability becomes worse, and power control is not easy, but tend to be smaller or relatively reasonable configuration of GPU.
If Apple really has a superior ability to the GPU team, and are willing to generous investment, then apple through customized autonomous GPU architecture, will achieve significant performance improvement, either chip area or performance, can provide more than before the GPU kernel chip suitable overall structure design. Apple is still in this novice but, already has a mature and very successful CPU kernel customization experience, this will help Apple detours.
At the same time, Apple seems to have to do is not only the leading mobile chip power. According to the rumors, apple is likely to be A series chip to the Mac line of products, mainly because of the ultra low power chip field, A system performance per watt and Intel to gradually narrow the gap. However, in the field of high performance the leading position of Intel processors, but there is no doubt that the ultra-thin products low-end entry-level future is hard to say, in fact, apple is still the biggest challenge lies in the seamless compatibility between different software chip architecture, even a few years or decades will not necessarily be able to solve.
In short, the momentum of development of the three series chip, apple in the chip industry can have a long way, but in the mobile industry, Apple's food chain has large enough, perhaps more achievements in the next two or three years will be presented one by one.