Currently, the hardware within your iPhone 3G or brand new iPod Touch isn’t terribly different from that contained in the very first hand-held iDevices…..
An ARM11-class processor clocked at about 400MHz (412MHz since the 1.1 update on the first generation devices) but rated at 667MHz.
128 megabytes of SDRAM.
A unique graphics acceleration chip which performs quite admirably at rendering OpenGL ES with the hand-held iDevices’ fixed resolution of 480×360, and has managed to make those handhelds the kings of the proverbial portable gaming performance hill.
Embarrassing Sony’s PSP and Nintendo’s DS quite utterly.
Soon, those strengths with all take a step forward and the entry level will retain all of the existing ones while the high end extends them to unreal new heights.
That, of course, is precisely what we’re here today to talk about.
All of the new iPhones & iPods will be based around a new ARM-family processor core, usually if not always as part of a “system on a chip” design which will contain most of the iDevice’s central functionality on a single piece of silicon. This is rumored to include the “basic” graphics/media processing unit which will offer performance roughly 2-3X that of the present subsystems for things like OpenGL ES rendering, media playback and even realtime (yes, realtime!) encoding of MPEG4 & h.264 recorded by the on-board camera which will be capable of the video functionality absent in today’s iPhone…..
And as Rumors can now exclusively report, Apple has been experimenting with one version of the unified SoC that would be dynamically clocked — not merely doing things like running at “Reduced” and “Highest” modes, say 667 and 1333MHz, but actually sliding the clock speed through a wide range of different clock rates depending on the needs of the software and adjusting between those states very rapidly, very efficiently. This is not the same thing as an asynchronous clock, but there are some other unique features in the core design being considered for this variant prototype.
The aforementioned version of the base design is the favorite of virtually everyone because of the natural advantages of this dynamic, efficiently multi-threading ARM processor core (and even the prospect of multiple cores in the near future if not right away with this “4G” platform). But a less unique core design that costs less and is in greater supply would still be capable of normally clocking at approximately 667-800MHz with better battery life than today’s 412MHz-clocked chip…..if trouble arises with the dynamic design then we expect something along these lines will be the final core logic.
Aside from that central SoC a range of other “bolt on” chips intended to extend the architecture’s advantages of cost, energy efficiency & performance are being considered.
These have been all but fully vetted at this point by Apple and narrowed to a short list which we will delve into on the next page.