News for the ‘Apple’ Category

Imagination Technologies : PowerVR GPUs

Apple’s new A5 processor features a dual core PowerVR SGX 543 – the same graphics tech that’s set to be featured in the forthcoming Sony NGP, the difference being that the new PlayStation portable will double the core count, bringing an unprecedented amount of graphical power to the mobile space.

Firstly, where we are at right now…

Secondly, an interview which gives us some perspective on where we are going…

Two great resources for those of us that are excited about the future of mobile gaming.

Posted: April 13th, 2011
Categories: Apple, GPU, PSP, Sony, ipad
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Jobs Re-Elected to Disney Board…

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) investors re- elected Apple Inc. (AAPL) Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs to the board of the entertainment company, rejecting the views of proxy advisers who say health issues may impair his ability to serve.

Thankfully real investors have carried the correct decision again. I can only assume that the same fuck-wits who wanted to cripple Apple’s strategic planning by forcing it to announce a succession plan were also behind the move to block Steve Jobs’ re-election at Disney.

Posted: March 24th, 2011
Categories: Apple, News
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[Updated] AAPL Downgraded…

Analyst downgrades are a rare event for market darling Apple Inc. (AAPL ) these days, especially with iPhones and iPads flying off store shelves.

But JMP Securities’ Alex Gauna is taking a bit of a contrarian view, concerned that the tech giant’s seemingly unstoppable growth rate is set to slow. He downgraded Apple today to “market perform” from “market outperform,” citing a significant slowdown at its primary partner, Hon Hai Precision Industry, Taiwan’s top electronics firm.

Mr. Gauna is going against the tide. He’s among just five of 54 analysts with a “sell,” “hold” or “neutral” rating on the stock, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Personally, I think Gauna is smoking crack.

What he has achieved though, is a short term window (cynically constructed on the foundations of a natural disaster, which has panicked the markets) where certain people could make an absolute fortune selling, and then re-buying AAPL. If I didn’t know any better…

Update : Apparently some other people think Gauna smokes crack too…

Analysts with far better track records than Gauna felt obliged to shoot holes in his two chief arguments for downgrading the stock: 1) That Japanese supply lines are in turmoil and 2) that Hon Hai (Foxconn), which does much of Apple’s assembly, has experienced a slowdown in what had been breakneck growth.

Oppenheimer’s Yair Reiner pointed out Wednesday that Hon Hai — which is dependent on other manufacturers for nearly 80% of its business — is a lousy proxy for Apple. And Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster issued a note Thursday in which he addressed Japan’s supply line troubles. While it’s true that Toshiba (which makes 40% of the world’s flash memory) and Mitsubishi (which is a major supplier of the resin used in iPhone and iPad circuit boards) have shut down their plants, Tim Cook buys these components in large pre-payment deals that guarantee supply and pricing. Apple is probably in better shape than any of its competitors to weather the storm.

But for me, nothing better underscored the shallowness of Gauna’s analysis than the appearance Wednesday of a 100-page report on Apple by a team at Credit Suisse headed by Kulbinder Garcha. Under the headline “The Most Valuable Company in the World?” Credit Suisse set a $500 target — $170 above Wednesday’s closing price — and summarized its findings with five bullet points:

Posted: March 17th, 2011
Categories: Apple, Opinion
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Apple Japan…

Full disclosure:  I work at Apple at one of its stores in Japan.  The earthquake hit while I was working on the first floor of one of their stores.  As the entire building swayed, the staff calmly led people from the top 5 floors down to the first floor, and under the ridiculously strong wooden tables that hold up the display computers.

7 hours and 118 aftershocks later, the store was still open.  Why? Because with the phone and train lines down, taxis stopped, and millions of people stuck in the Tokyo shopping district scared, with no access to television, hundreds of people were swarming into Apple stores to watch the news on USTREAM and contact their families via Twitter, Facebook, and email.  The young did it on their mobile devices, while the old clustered around the macs. There were even some Android users there. (There are almost no free wifi spots in Japan besides Apple stores, so even Android users often come to the stores.)

You know how in disaster movies, people on the street gather around electronic shops that have TVs in the display windows so they can stay informed with what is going on?  In this digital age, that’s what the Tokyo Apple stores became.  Staff brought out surge protectors and extension cords with 10s of iOS device adapters so people could charge their phones & pads and contact their loved ones.  Even after we finally had to close 10pm, crowds of people huddled in front of our stores to use the wifi into the night, as it was still the only way to get access to the outside world.

Anyway, I mention this not because I work at Apple now, or because I’m an admitted fanboy, but because I’m genuinely proud of the Apple Japan staff and their willingness to stay open to help people that day. And I’m also impressed with the way Apple’s products (and yes, Google’s, Twitter’s, and Facebook’s) helped them that day. Even after we had to close, many of the staff stayed outside the store to fixing iphones and teaching people how to contact family or stay informed via wifi.

From Kevin Rose’s blog.

Posted: March 15th, 2011
Categories: Apple
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Apple A5 Teardown…

We had decapsulated the A5 a couple of days ago, but as you could see in those early pictures, you can’t tell much of a chip’s layout from the top metal – it’s all power and ground buses.  So we have to de-layer the chip down to a level where we can see the block layout of the chip; not an easy thing when there’s nine layers of metal!  In fact, these days it’s easier to go in from the back and remove the substrate silicon, and look at the gate level from below.  Then we can identify the circuit blocks that make up the full device.

[W]e’ve labeled the key blocks; the ARM cores are in the right half of the die, with ~4.5 Mb of cache memory each.  We can also see the USB interface at the top, and the DDR SDRAM interfaces at the bottom right, for the memory in the top part of the package-on-package.  Other I/O blocks are strewn around the edge of the die.

Interesting stuff.

Posted: March 15th, 2011
Categories: Apple, Geek, Technical Specs, ipad, iphone
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iFixit : iPad 2 Smart Cover Teardown

An amazing array of magnets, both in the iPad 2 and the Smart Cover, with polarities carefully organised, and each magnet positioned, to ensure that when you snap it on it “Just Works”. Very cool. Very Simple. Pretty much exactly how I assumed it worked. But the amount of R&D and practical experimentation that went into making sure the concept behaved as expected is obvious.

Posted: March 14th, 2011
Categories: Apple, ipad
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Dear Japan…

“To those who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami, we send sympathies from our heart – In this deep …sadness, we are praying for the victims and their families.”

*You can donate to the Red Cross via iTunes here. Apple has of course waived its 30% cut.

*Unfortunately this link does not work in some iTunes regions, like for example Thai accounts. Please use a US account to make your donation until Apple fixes this.

Posted: March 13th, 2011
Categories: Apple
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iPad 2 : Some Definitive GPU Benchmarks…

This is the first definitive set of GPU benchmarking for the iPad 2, courtesy of AnandTech…

Developers with existing titles on the iPad could conceivably triple geometry complexity with no impact on performance on the iPad 2.

With a lit triangle, a simple test for fragment shader performance…

While the PowerVR SGX 535 in the A4 could barely break 4 million triangles per second in this test, the PowerVR SGX 543MP2 in the A5 manages just under 20 million.

Texture fetch…

5x increase in texture fetch performance. This has to be due to more than an increase in the amount of texturing hardware. An improvement in throughput? Increase in memory bandwidth? It’s tough to say without knowing more at this point.

Those of us working with multiple FBOs for post processing effects, should be very pleased with both the increase in fragment shader performance and the apparent increase in texture fetch throughput.

GLBenchmark 2.0 app & Infinity Blade tests…

While we weren’t able to reach the 9x figure claimed by Apple (I’m not sure that you’ll ever see 9x running real game code), a range of 3 – 7x in GLBenchmark 2.0 is more reasonable. In practice I’d expect something less than 5x but that’s nothing to complain about.

There are more in depth details in the full article, and they promise follow ups.

But for a simple head to head comparison running GLBenchmark 2.0 Egypt…

Apple iPad 2 (1024 x 768) : 44 FPS

Motorola Xoom (1280 x 800) : 11.8 FPS

Apple iPad (1024 x 768) : 8.1 FPS

Posted: March 13th, 2011
Categories: Analysis, Apple, Benchmarks, ipad
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iFixit : iPad 2 Teardown

As usual. Excellent work by the guys at iFixit.

Apple 1GHz A5 dual-core Processor with a 200MHz bus and 512 MB of RAM.

The A5 processor has manufacture dates of late January and mid-February 2011. Production was clearly ramping up through the last minute. It looks like the A5 processor is the APL0498, replacing the A4/APL0398 seen in the iPad 1 and iPhones.

Of course what we really want now is the Apple A5 ripped apart in one of their friend’s labs.

Posted: March 12th, 2011
Categories: Apple, ipad
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Apple A5 : Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

We think the A5 is likely not built around Cortex A9 cores, but instead probably uses two [of] the same custom low-power A8 cores used in the A4. If Apple had indeed used two Cortex A9-based cores, raw performance should be more than double that of a single core A8-based design.

This makes a lot of sense. I noted in February that Apple had received custom silicon for what we expected to be the Apple A5. But that it had not had enough time to transition that silicon into iOS (or ongoing iPad 2 manufacture) for an early 2011 launch. So my best guess was that the iPad 2 would ship with an interim SoC. I suggested something like a beefed up A4, with a faster ARM Cortex A8, and a much better GPU most likely making up an iPad 2 specific Apple A4-and-a-half.

To be honest, until someone (iFixit and friends) rips the silicon in the iPad 2 apart and sticks it under a microscope, none of us will have much more than guesses to go on about what exactly the Apple A5 is. But it seems very likely that Apple has made expedient decisions to maximise performance as well as keep battery life gains.

I’ve have always maintained that Apple’s mobile silicon lineup is more than powerful enough in the CPU department, and what it really needed was a kick on the GPU side. Even the CPU in the original iPhone is still very capable. But the GPUs in all current iOS devices are constantly fighting an uphill battle with fill rate.

It remains to be seen if the iPhone 5 will get this Apple A5, or a further iteration.

Posted: March 8th, 2011
Categories: ARM, Apple, Technical Specs, ipad
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