Next-gen iDevice picture coming together

Already, the grapevine has sussed out a tremendous number of details about the four (planned, if not necessarily all shipped at the same time this summer) new iDevices:

*A huge order of NAND Flash memory storage chips, the same (but of higher density & performance — even lower power draw, in most cases) used in current iDevices for data storage, has been placed by Apple with several suppliers including Samsung. That in and of itself isn’t news….Apple has become a key buyer of these chips. What’s news is that the order is so incredibly massive that it will strain the market and might even make it challenging for the entire market for this class of Flash memory to become “constrained.” It could even have a significant effect on the market pricing of these chips going forward. Lots of people are buzzing about this news; it goes way beyond just the Apple/Mac community.

*Powerful new ARM-family CPU: Something similar to the Cortex A8, a multi-core design with remarkable energy efficiency, thermal output, physical outline and performance advantages over today’s iDevices based on 667MHz-rated ARM11 chips running at 412 (iPhone) to 532 (iPod Touch 2G) Megahertz…..a roughly 2.5X performance gain, even more on certain functions, while extending battery life. For more details on this, check out our previous post about the next-generation 2009 iDevice processors and core platform.

*This extended battery life will be aided by a more energy-efficient GPS chip (no longer just for iPhones?! that’s a rumor for another day….) plus new main RAM memory which will be larger (256MB instead of the current 128MB) and faster (DDR? even DDR2?!) as well as draining roughly 1/2 to as little as 1/4 the energy of the current SDRAM chips which are manufactured on a significantly larger, older, less efficient manufacturing process.

*5GHz 802.11n(!). Whether it’s Broadcom’s new chip or one of the emerging competitors that Apple has been evaluating in various prototypes according to Rumors’ sources, the new iDevices will have — at their high end, at least, if not in all four new models — far greater Wi-Fi bandwidth and since nearly all the chips evaluated also included enhanced Bluetooth on the same chip, we expect to see upgrades on that front as well. Although existing 2.4GHz 802.11g Wi-Fi is adequate for most present-day Internet connections, bandwidth needs are always increasing and we expect to see Apple as well as third party developers showing off ever more unique ways to leverage this vastly increased speed potential — not to mention the greater range, particularly in congested/challenging environments, that 5GHz-band 802.11n brings.

*Which brings us to…..Wireless Sync?! There are a few things to confirm before we are ready to throw our confidence behind this particular rumor, and it would certainly help to find specific references in OS 3.0….but alas, thus far the grapevine has come up dry on that front. Which is surprising because we’ve been hearing incessantly from “insider” sources close to Cupertino about how the future of the iDevice Platform is “cables optional” for every purpose except charging. More on this in upcoming articles….

*A powerful new generation of graphics processor (GPU) in the 2009 iDevices (supplied by the same company that created the platform’s existing innovative GPU: Imagination Inc.) called “PowerVR” will sport multiple cores each of which isn’t far off from the existing chip’s capabilities and together, form a huge advantage that the iDevice Platform will be able to take going forward.

*The new PowerVR chip solves several problems for Apple….it is no small part of the equation which allows them to deliver video (not just recording, but editing and even special effects of a character that will stun the audience when these devices are unveiled, no question!) that satisfies their requirements of what mobile video should be — “720P HD or damn close” is a direct quote from one source we have great confidence in, speaking to us recently about the stated roadmap goal for the 2009 iDevices’ video capabilities. Much of the new video capabilities are things that merely needed time to be developed in terms of software code, and could potentially be made to work on the existing 2007/2008 iTouch Platform — but Apple simply doesn’t like the results with the current image sensor. A new 3.2 megapixel CMOS sensor has been requisitioned by Apple but again we have caught wind of several prototypes which had higher resolutions than that (up to 5.7MP) so the 3.2MP figure may not apply to all four new models.

*Not only are the new camera(s) of higher resolution for both still photos and video along with a far greater capability to clearly image moving objects….support for auto-focus is confirmed to be part of OS 3.0 so that seems a shoo-in for at least one, and in our opinion probably all, of the new models.

Many are beginning to expect from the timing of the publicly known orders, and the curve that Apple seems to have set on the software end — not to mention how closely tied the iDevice platform is with its developers through the App Store and its stunning success — that these devices, all four of them, will be announced on June 8th at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC).

At this point, though the difference between roadmaps and when the rubber actually hits the road can be quite dramatic, we are inclined to agree with that consensus.

As a matter of fact, the grapevine has been able to glean quite a bit about these new devices simply by examining these first two “iPhone OS” 3.0 developer beta releases….though it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a friend or two at Infinite Loop willing to do some mutual back-scratching over a few “insider” details, perhaps get a description or even an actual look at a prototype here or there….we’ve been quite impressed with how quickly and clearly the picture of these new iDevices is coming together based on information that is publicly available.

Could this signal that almost inevitably as part and parcel of its success, Apple is being forced to become just a *little bit* more open?! Just maybe….and as far as we’re concerned, that’s an extremely good thing.

Recent revelations such as a “magnetometer” (compass-like orientation device allowing far greater directional position data to make mobile apps even more aware of their state and orientation within its surroundings and larger world) and other unique built-in hardware in the new 2009 iDevices are excititing….we’ll be reporting on them in much more detail presently….but we still think there’s a lot more to be discovered and astounded by as we get closer to June.

The sheer power and potential of the new hardware platforms are astounding….but even for those who are using current models, have little doubt — this summer will bring you a revolution not to be underestimated.

More details soon to come; stay tuned to Mac OS Rumors by following us on Twitter (@MacOSRumors), drop us an email (, dish some dirt with us on iChat/AOL Instant Messenger (MacOSRumors)….or simply fire off a comment with the form below!

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  • Matt

    What is an idevice? Is it an ipod or what?

  • ryan

    An iDevice is most commonly associated with the iPhone and iPod Touch (AKA “iTouch”), though technically it can also apply to non-touch iPods. In a sense, the AppleTV is also an iDevice (it was also originally named iTV, after all) but since it runs on a form of stripped-down “MacIntel” architecture with a simple 1GHz x86 processor, it also borders on a form of Mac.

    In short, it’s a name to summarize most (or all) of Apple’s non-Mac products which feature a proper CPU, GPU and OS (whether that be “iPhone OS” or “AppleTV OS,” they’re all based on the same Darwin core as Mac OS X & implement many of the same APIs) — i.e. not accessories, but actual system architectures.