Rumor: Apple Currently Working on Two New Mobile CPUs
The latest Apple rumor suggests Apple is building more than one new mobile CPU. iOS 5.1 beta code suggests that Apple is working on an A5X chip — an enhanced version of the A5 CPU in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S — in addition to the much-hyped A6 CPU — a potential contender for the iPhone 5. But I’m inclined to believe Apple’s strategy is more than just new mobile CPUs, it’s about evolving the microchip world altogether. Here are some ideas …
First, the straight dope: Some investigative digging by none other than 9to5Mac has shown iOS 5 beta code referencing two new mobile CPUs in Apple’s lineup. That includes the A5X CPU, which is allegedly being used in the iPad 3, along with code for the mythical quad-core A6 CPU, likely for use in the equally mythical iPhone 5. An A5X CPU should be able to drive the essentially confirmed iPad 3 retina display, while a quad-core A6 CPU on the iPhone 5 should be impressive enough to make existing Android phones look as slow as molasses.
But have you noticed how powerful mobile CPUs have been getting? Between Samsung, Nvidia and much-hyped Windows 8 tablets running on ARM, the mobile CPU world has quickly come up to speed (no pun intended), bringing with it a new paradigm about the computing world. Our little mobile phones may be capable of much more than text messages and Angry Birds; in fact, one day, mobile CPUs could power a substantial part of the world. Just look at HP’s Project Moonshot, which looks to use mobile CPUs to build powerful and power-efficient server stacks. Equally important is Ubuntu’s vision of Android phones, which once docked, will act as tiny computers running the full-blown Ubuntu linux desktop.
Short and sweet: The mobile CPUs of the near future are likely to be highly powerful and highly capable little chips, reshaping the idea of what tablet and mobile phone can do. Combine Apple’s ambitions for pushing mobile boundaries with ARM’s continuing rise (and Intel’s mediocre progress in the mobile world) and we’ve got ourselves a perfect storm brewing for a world where mobile CPUs supplant traditional CPUs in the personal computing space. Could the future of silicon be a war between Intel and ARM? Sound off in the comments and let us know.