Archive for April, 2010

April 22nd, 2010 ~ by admin

Apple rumored to buy ARM Holdings

AppleInsider has a post up about a potential interest Apple has in ARM Holdings, designers of the ARM processor cores used in the iPod, iPhone, and iPad, among tens of thousands of other devices. Apple has a market cap, of almost $250 billion, while ARM is just shy of $2 billion. Apple clearly has the cash abilty to purchase ARM outright, and they certainly have a reason to want to.

However, the rest of the computer world has an even bigger reason to keep Apple from doing so.  ARM devices are used by tens of thousands of devices, made by thousands of companies. Silicon containing ARM IP is made by hundreds of companies across the world. The success of these companies, their designs, and the devices they power is in large part based on fair, equal, and predictable availability of licenses from ARM.

If Apple were to own ARM, they could completely stop the availability of licenses to any design they felt was a competitor, or they could delay the release to third parties of newer designs. This is similar to the problem some phone companies are experiencing with Google and their Android OS, Google is motivated to sell their own branded Nexus One phone, with the latest version of Android, before giving the same version to third parties.

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April 11th, 2010 ~ by admin

Prayers for the People of Poland

A rather large tragedy and loss. The CPU Shack sends its sympathy to the CPU collectors, and entire country of Poland for their loss. May God be with you all.

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April 9th, 2010 ~ by admin

Cyrix MediaGX: From Cyrix to AMD – A bit a History

On February 20th of 1997 Cyrix announced the MediaGX processor, running at speeds of 120 and 133MHz. By June of that year they were up to 180MHz as production was ramped at National and IBM (see press release). These processors were based on the Cyrix M1 (5×86) architecture and integrated basic graphics, and audio functions. They were sold as a ‘PC on a chip’ for budget applications, with a bit of a budget performance.

Early MediaGX Marked Gx86 120MHz circa late '96

In October 1997 Cyrix announced plans for the Cayenne cored MXi, a follow on to the MediaGX. By 1999 National Semiconductor had made some samples of it, but thats as far as it got. This was also when National Semiconductor bought Cyrix, effectively ending Intel’s lawsuit against Cyrix over x86 licensing as National held an x86 license. The Media GX was bumped to 200 and 233MHz and MMX support was added.

National Semiconductor Geode 266MHz circa 2001 Sample

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April 5th, 2010 ~ by admin

Apple iPad Round up: Inside and Out The Processors of Apple’s Latest

Apple Officially has launched the iPad, essentially a scaled up iPhone, and judging by the model number, it started development several years ago around the time of the first iPod Touch. Many of the components are similar to the iPhone, if not the same. Obviously the biggest processor ews is the Apple A4 ARM processor at its heart. Its developed by Apple, and built by Samsung. a multi-die package, it includes the ARM processor, and PowerVR Graphics on one die, and then two 128MB DRAM dies as well.

iPad Motherboard - A4 CPU by Samsung

What is interesting about the A4? It has a 64bit memory bus, rather then the more standard 32bit but found on most ARM devices. This likely for faster memory access to support faster graphics.

Wifi, Bluetooth, and FM functions are handled by a Broadcom BCM4329 which includes two processors of its own (the documentation of this part does not state what architecture they are, but MIPS or XA-RISC is likely)

The screen controller is the Broadcom BCM5973/5974 which has been used by Apple for several years. The Baseband processor in the 3G version is the Infineon X-Gold 608 which contains a 312MHz ARM926 processor, a 2007 design, so probably saved Apple some money.

So all told the iPad 3G contains at least 4 seperate processors.

Instrinsity: ARM Processor Design House

In related news rumors are flying about Apple acquiring Intrinsity. Instrinsity is a processor design house which specializes in, you guessed it, ARM processors. Its likely they have helped Apple more on the A4 then P.A. Semi (another Apple acquisition) This is further supported by the fact that Intrinsity has worked a lot lately with Samsung in developing a 1GHz ARM CPU (the Hummingbird). Who fab’s the A4? Yah, Samsung.

EE Times: Inside the iPad
EE TImes: Inside the iPad: Broadcom/Samsung
iFixit: Teardown
ars technica: Apple buys Instrinsity

April 1st, 2010 ~ by admin

AMD Launches ‘Lottery-Core’ CPUs

AMD today unvelied their new CPUs for gamers, which seem to readily appeal to poker players. The New Lottery Core series contains 12 cores. However, as is normal with production of such a complex device some, or all of these cores may not work.  AMD has designed the cores/CPU such that if a core fails, the others will function fine, this of course saves them testing, as well as packaging costs as each chip can use the same package and markings.

Obviously these are targeted specifically for the hobbiest, and priced accordingly. You may get one with all 12 cores functioning and if so AMD considers you ‘very lucky’ apparently not so much if you get one with no working cores.

Currently these are only available in the UK, but if successful should spread elsewhere.

More Info at PC Pro UK


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Processor News