A Look Inside Apple’s Custom GPU for the iPhone

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Previously, Apple’s iPhones and iPads used PowerVR GPUs from Imagination Technologies for graphics. Based on our analysis, Apple has created a custom GPU that powers the A8, A9, and 10 processors, shipping in the iPhone 6 and later models, and some iPads. Using public documents, we demonstrate that the programmable shader cores inside Apple’s GPU are different from Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR and offer superior 16-bit floating-point performance and data conversion functions. We further believe that Apple has also developed a custom shader compiler and graphics driver. The proprietary design enables Apple to deliver best-in-class performance for graphics, and other tasks that use the GPU, such as image processing and machine learning.

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Lessons in Technology and Innovation from the iPad 3 Graphics and Display

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The iPad 3 was an influential and successful tablet, but an excellent example of an unbalanced system. In particular, the superb Retina display was not adequately matched by the GPU of the A5X, and represented a step backwards in terms of graphics capabilities. This article explores the challenges of designing innovative products given the underlying technical constraints, through the lens of the iPad 3 and its successors.

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ARM Goes 64-bit

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The new ARMv8 architecture is classically British; a clean and elegant 64-bit instruction set, with compatibility for 32-bit software. The 64-bit mode eliminates many complicated and awkward features and will foster a larger and more diverse ARM ecosystem with new licensees and applications.

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Why Apple Won’t ARM the MacBook

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Rumors aside, Apple will not switch their laptops to ARM any time soon. Despite Apple’s previous migrations, there are too many technical and business challenges and too few benefits. Moreover, Apple’s chip designers are better suited to enhancing the iPhone and iPad to fend off commodity Android systems. We look at the reasons Apple will stay with x86 notebooks for now, and how they might consider using ARM in the future.

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ISSCC 2007: A Brief Survey

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David Kanter reports on several presentations from ISSCC 2007, including ones covering PA Semi, Intel’s Merom/Core 2 Duo, Niagara II and NEC.

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P.A. Semi’s PA6T-1682M System-on-a-Chip

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Introduction Recently, the computer industry has struggled with the twin issues of power consumption and heat dissipation. Part of this was because architects had assumed that system builders and consumers would be willing to deal with 100W chips, in order to have the highest performance. While the general purpose computation market has been heating up, […]

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CELL Microprocessor III

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This is the third article in a series covering the CELL microprocessor, co-developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba.

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Announcement of the IBM PowerPC 970 Processor

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David Wang initiates coverage of the Micro Processor Forum 2002 with the Power PC 970 announcement from IBM.

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ARM’s Race to Embedded World Domination

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What is the number one selling 32-bit microprocessor? Probably not what you think. Paul DeMone looks at the very successful ARM processor in this months Silicon Insider.

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A Big Blue Shadow over Alpha, SPARC, and IA-64

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IBM unveils a powerful 64-bit processor that may put them in the front of the performance race. Paul dissects it in this months Silicon Insider.

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