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iPhone 5 shows an Apple first: custom CPU core design

John Cox | Oct. 1, 2012
More details of the iPhone 5 CPU emerged this week, confirming Apple's claimed performance gains. But more importantly, they are the first indications of the impact of Apple's custom chip design, rather than relying on standardized cores licensed from ARM.

But the real change, likely in 2014 according to Linley, will be a shift to 64-bit chip architectures for mobile processors. Linley believes Apple is already at work on this, likely implementing the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set.

"A 64-bit processor can more easily handle 4GB of DRAM and higher," Linley says. "The iPhone 5 uses 1GB of DRAM [itself doubling the DRAM of iPhone 4S], and some competing phones use 2GB, so it is easy to imagine an iPhone in 2014 with 4GB of DRAM. Also, ARM has included many other innovations in its 64-bit ARMv8 design, so it's kind of a package deal. If Apple wants to keep pace with the leading ARM processors, it has to go to 64 bits in 2014."


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