Tags ‘cpu’

Report: Apple squeezing Samsung and TSMC for last-minute price cuts on A9 chips

A9

A new report suggests that Apple is playing A9 chip makers Samsung and TSMC against one another in the lead up to the launch of new iPhones, attempting to extract last-minute price reductions for its next-generation processors. According to the report from Digitimes, which has a mixed track record regarding upcoming Apple products, Apple is requesting lower prices from both companies. Though TSMC is “inclined to refuse,” Samsung has agreed to discount the chips, offering Apple “almost-free backend services” in an effort to “grab the majority of A9 chip orders.”

The report suggests that Apple is leveraging the novelty of the FinFET chip manufacturing process to extract concessions from TSMC, which has relatively few FinFET chip orders from other customers. A claimed reduction in Apple’s demand from 30,000 wafers per month to under 20,000 wafers would leave TSMC to make up a significant difference between Apple’s original order and the Taiwanese company’s FinFET production capacity. The impact on Apple’s upcoming A9X, which was believed to be handled by TSMC, is unclear…

Prior reports have indicated that Samsung and TSMC were both pushing hard for Apple’s A9 business, each developing FinFET production processes capable of turning out smaller, more powerful, and more energy-efficient chips. At one point, Samsung appeared to be ready to serve as Apple’s exclusive A9 supplier, but subsequent reports noted that TSMC would also supply processors to Apple.

Reports claimed that TSMC will handle all production of the A9X chip intended for iPads, historically a more powerful but lower-volume component than Apple’s non-X processor. It’s unclear whether the A9X will be impacted by the price negotiations.


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Devices Tagged: a9, A9x, CPU, FinFet, iPad, iPhone, Samsung, TSMC

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Jeremy Horwitz

August 12th

Apple

Mac

Teardown of new Mac Pro reveals upgradeable CPU

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Following the launch of Apple’s new Mac Pro earlier this month and some early deliveries arriving for customers, Other World Computing today posted a quick teardown of the machine (via MacRumors). We’ll have to wait for a full, in-depth teardown to find out specifics, but several images posted by OWC do reveal what appears to be socketed CPUs. In theory that means owners should be able to perform a DIY upgrade of the Intel Xeon E5 processors shipping with the new base configurations. 

Apple already offers a number of CPU upgrades as a built-to-order options at the time of purchasing the new Mac Pro. Upgrades from the base quad-core CPU to 6-core, 8-core, or 12-core options range from $500 to $3500 through Apple, but it’s likely third-parties like OWC will offer more affordable upgrade options for existing owners. OWC’s teardown appears to still be in progress, but we’ll update here if anything else notable is discovered.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: CPU, Intel Xeon E5, LGA 2011, Mac Pro, processor, removable, socketed, teardown, Upgrade

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Jordan Kahn

December 27th

Apple

Mac

Microsoft Just Gave the Xbox One a CPU Boost


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Casey Chan

September 4th

Uncategorized

Apple reportedly partners into chip fab to bring processor manufacturing in-house

According to a report today from SemiAccurate, a semi-accurate site that has been hit and miss on Apple rumors in the past, Apple has just bought into a chip fab plant, backing up recent rumors that the company could be moving to build its own CPUs.

Apple has just done something that SemiAccurate has been expecting for months and entered the fab industry. No we are not joking, Apple just bought into a fab, and not in a trivial way either.

The full report remains behind a paywall, so it’s unclear if the site mentions a specific company that Apple has bought into. The tags for the report, however, do list “UMC”, a hint that the company in question could be Taiwan-based chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation…

As for SemiAccurate’s track record, the site’s prediction back in 2011 that Apple was moving away from Intel in its laptop products of course failed to come true. It has, however, got a few things right such as Apple’s move back to Nvidia graphics in 2012.

The report also notes that it its previous report has come true and links to a story from January claiming Apple had hired a full GPU design team away from AMD.

The efforts at Apple would presumably be lead by Bob Mansfield, the Apple veteran executive who began leading Apple’s new Technologies group last October. At the time, Tim Cook said the group had “very ambitious plans” for semiconductors.

Bob Mansfield will lead a new group, Technologies, which combines all of our wireless teams across the company in one organization, allowing us to innovate in this area at an even higher level. This organization will also include all of our semiconductor teams, who have some very ambitious plans. As part of this, I am thrilled to tell you that Bob will remain with Apple for an additional two years. Bob has led some of our most challenging engineering projects for many years.

Samsung remains the sole provider of Apple’s AX series chips in its iOS devices, but recent reports, later confirmed by WSJ, claimed Apple has struck a deal with TSMC with collaboration between the two companies likely to kick off in 2014. The deal seemed to support theories that Apple was looking to reduce its reliance on its biggest competitor in the smartphone space, Samsung, something it’s reportedly done for other components Samsung provides such as screens and NAND chips.

How the chip stocks are doing today:

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 9.26.09 AM


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Jordan Kahn

July 12th

Apple

Mac

Here’s the First 5.0 GHz CPU You Can Actually Buy

Here's the First 5.0 GHz CPU You Can Actually Buy

AMD just one-upped its own series of eight-core FX processors, and the golden child of this newest lineup is unquestionably the FX-9590, which they claim to be the world's "first-ever 5 GHz processor." While technically that record was already beat—and by AMD themselves, no less—it is, in fact, the first commercially available 5GHz CPU processor.

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Ashley Feinberg

June 11th

Uncategorized

Here’s the First 5.0 GHz CPU You Can Actually Buy

Here's the First 5.0 GHz CPU You Can Actually Buy

AMD just one-upped its own series of eight-core FX processors, and the golden child of this newest lineup is unquestionably the FX-9590, which they claim to be the world's "first-ever 5 GHz processor." While technically that record was already beat—and by AMD themselves, no less—it is, in fact, the first commercially available 5GHz CPU processor.

Read more...

    


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Ashley Feinberg

June 11th

Uncategorized

Haswell preview suggests similar gains to Ivy Bridge over Sandy Bridge

A detailed performance test of a prototype Core i7 Haswell chip by tom’s Hardware suggests that it will offer a 7 percent to 13 percent performance gain over equivalent Ivy Bridge CPUs—a similar gain to that experienced with the move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge.

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The integrated HD 4600 GPU experiences an impressive speed boost of almost 30 percent, but the website noted that this still won’t allow for comfortable gaming on HD monitors, so gamers will need discrete graphics chips.

While performance gains reached up to 75 percent in the case of some specific tasks, the gains for typical desktop applications are relatively modest.


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Ben Lovejoy

March 20th

Apple

Mac

MacBook Pro with Retina display: Problems in every dimension

MacBook-Problems-In-Every-Dimension

When Apple unveiled its first Retina MacBook Pro with the 15.4-inch model in June, it came with an all-new, slimmed down design, all-flash architecture, and its flagship Retina display with over 5 million pixels. Apple has built its reputation on quality, craftsmanship, and customer/user experience, but that hasn’t been the case with its latest lineup of MacBooks. What many consumers don’t know is that buying a new Retina MacBook means taking your chances with possibly receiving a unit that is subject to display defects, battery, graphics, and fan-related issues among other major stability problems. These widespread issues have received limited coverage in the press and many consumers claim Apple is failing to sufficiently address the problems by not informing consumers and employees.

Leading the reports of problems is one that causes burn-in or ghosting on the device’s display. The result is a support thread with over 364,769 views and, most recently, a class-action lawsuit in California that alleged Apple is failing to inform consumers of the issue. Users experiencing the problem eventually realized the source of the issue was with LG, one of Apple’s display suppliers for the new Retina MacBooks. Unfortunately, models with Samsung displays aren’t totally free from a myriad of other significant issues.

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Apple described the image-retention problems on this user’s display as normal after two visits. The display was eventually replaced with a Samsung but continues to experience other display related problems. 

Problems at the Apple Store

Finally, after 4 LG screened rMBPs I give up!

The problems are severe enough that it’s affecting the buying experience for consumers, driving customers to opt for other devices, and forced me personally to stop recommending the machine. Not only is Apple not addressing the issues publicly, Apple retail employees and 9to5Mac readers confirmed Apple is failing to properly inform retail and repair staff of the problems…

The problem at the retail level is a result of Apple’s failure to prepare its repair staff for consumers inevitably seeking repairs for the issues. For the LG display flaw specifically, Apple retail employees told us there are no guidelines in place for repair staff dealing with the repairs. In other words, the repair staff has no way of telling if replacement parts are LG or Samsung. This forces many customers to return three, four or more times for a repair or replacement. One 9to5Mac reader, Jason Smith, told us his account of going through nine replacements of the Retina MacBook Pro related to multiple issues:

I purchased my Retina Macbook Pro in November 2012 (2.6Ghz / 16GB / 512GB) and within 14 days the trackpad failed, took it into my local Apple Store where they ordered a new top cover and was told they would fit it within 3 days for me as it was in constant use.

The next day I had a call saying they have replaced the cover however for reasons unknown to them the Mag Safe had now failed and they were unable to power on the machine and recommended that a replacement machine was ordered.

When the replacement arrived it took a total of 3 weeks however the machine that arrived was the classic Macbook Pro rather than Retina, so another machine was ordered, when this arrived there was issues that the fans would spin up randomly and repeatedly when downloading a larger (200MB+) file, contacted Apple Care again to which they agree’d this wasn’t right and another replacement machine was ordered, this is now my fourth machine, It was also promised that Apple would be in touch regarding compensation for this, however to this day nothing has happened.

To cut a very long story short this has been going on now since November totalling 9 Replacement machines all with the same Fan Issue, hours of time on the phone to Apple Care, hours spent on the phone to ‘Higher Level Management’ until eventually an SMC update was released that solved the issue, on the last call to ‘Higher Management’ I was offered a Free Charger …. which was obviously laughable! Im still yet to receive any compensation at all.

Image-persistence-rMBPApple performs an image persistence test for displays exhibiting burn-in type symptoms, as highlighted in the internal Apple Care doc pictured to the right. However, that doesn’t address the LG problem specifically and leaves staff in the dark about having to perform multiple replacements in hopes of getting a Samsung display. It’s also the reason some customers are being told that faint image persistence problems are normal for Retina displays, as described above.

Apple isn’t informing consumers 

The display flaw alone has prompted a class action lawsuit in California that accuses Apple of failing to inform consumers about the differences with LG and Samsung displays in the new Retina MacBooks at the time of purchase.

“The performance disparity between the LG version and the Samsung version is particularly troubling given that Apple represents the MacBook Pro with retina display as a single, unitary product, described as the highest quality notebook display on the market,” the complaint said. “None of Apple’s advertisements or representations discloses that it produces the computers with display screens that exhibit different levels of performance and quality.”

Apple has a knowledge base article—last updated in February—on avoiding image persistence that now includes the Retina MacBook Pro lineup, but it doesn’t include information about the problem being specific to its LG-made displays.

Other issues with the Retina MacBook

Retina-MacBook-Pro-tear-down-iFixit

Unfortunately for consumers with Apple’s new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, the problems don’t end with the LG burn-in flaw. A number of other support threads and months of first-hand accounts from users indicate the machine is also experiencing other significant performance issues. The support threads and reports from users range from several graphics-related performance issues that cause frequent freezing and crashing to other display related issues also affecting Samsung displays, as well as problems related to fans and reports of significant battery life problems.

Apple’s 13-inch Retina model isn’t free from the issues, with reports of the same image retention issues, fan speed, and more.

Three out of three 9to5mac writers who’ve purchased the 15-inch Retina MacBook have had significant issues—and one of which required three replacements before getting an LG. All three devices continue experiencing performance-related issues, especially when running CPU intensive applications such as Logic Pro.

The new Retina MacBooks could be the most problematic for Apple since the introduction of the original during the transition to Intel in 2006. Early adopters of that device also experienced significant performance issues that ultimately resulted in a recall and warranty extension for hard drive-related problems.

Apple driving consumers to choose other devices 

While Apple is fixing the issue for some customers lucky enough to eventually land a Samsung-made display during the replacement process, reports of problems and bad experiences during the repair process are driving some to opt for other devices:

I want to know if you guys can help me decide if I should go for it or not, if these image retention and burn in and ui lag issues appear to be fixed with this new model or if it is still the same. If I don’t buy this one I’ll be getting the new Samsung Series 7 Chronos they showed in CES 2013, still not available in the market. Thanks a lot!

Failure to properly address the issue has also resulted in numerous other responses from customers now opting for Apple’s previous-generation MacBooks or notebooks from competitors.

Decided to go for the cMBP Hi-Res (2.6/8/750HDD) with a view to max it out with 2 x SSDs and 16GB RAM – and save a lot of cash too

Is Apple addressing it quietly?

Apart from the knowledge base article describing the problem as normal, Apple has not publicly addressed the widespread problems with the Retina MacBooks. That means any MacBook customers who happen to start experiencing issues with their LG displays or other components after their complimentary 1-year warranty is up will be out of luck.

Apple last week released a software update for the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro that attempts to resolve some issues related to graphics, PowerNap, and fans, but, unfortunately, many of these performance-related issues still exist.

It is possible Apple could have aimed to address some of the issues with components in a minor refresh of the device last month, but that’s certainly not something that is clear to consumers purchasing the device. Apple upgraded a lot more than the CPUs it announced publicly, including tweaks to the SSD, I/O Board, Logic Board, and more.

Should Apple do more to address these undeniable issues for early adopters through a public response and or better preparing retail staff?

You can find out if your display is LG or Samsung by entering this line of code into Terminal. Model numbers with “LP” indicate LG, but models with Samsung displays have “LSN”.


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Jordan Kahn

March 20th

Apple

Mac

Build the Best PC For Your Buck

We all know that, generally speaking, buying the newest top-end part gets you the most performance. But in most cases, the premium you pay for that part covers a whole lot of other stuff as well that has no bearing on frame rates or video encoding times. We're talking about the added cost of covering research and development, product marketing, lower production yields, etc. That high price also includes a vanity tax, if you will-the extra charge incurred by folks who simply want to have the latest hardware, hot off the fab, for bragging rights. More »


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The Maximum PC Staff

February 14th

Uncategorized

Here’s a Mac Pro concept gallery while we patiently wait for Apple to update the real ones

MacPro-Concept-01 MacPro-Concept-02 MacPro-Concept-03 MacPro-Concept-04 MacPro-Concept-05 MacPro-Concept-06 MacPro-Concept-07 MacPro-Concept-08

This is what happens when designers have to look down at the same box they had almost a decade ago.

We showed you a detailed modular Mac Pro design concept in September posted by designer Peter Zigich. Today, Zigich is back with another future Mac Pro concept that imagined Apple ditching Intel for a custom Apple-designed ARM CPU, “A10″. We’re not sure Apple is ready to take the jump to ARM in the first major refresh of its Mac Pro line since 2010, but the prospect of a smaller, possibly Mac mini-like design for a new Mac Pro is definitely intriguing. The PCI slots are probably not necessary thanks to Thunderbolt, and Zigich doesn’t rule Intel out entirely. While these specs are maybe not completely realistic for an upcoming Mac Pro refresh, it certainly gets us thinking about what Apple might have planned for its aging Mac Pro design. More images available on Zigich’s website here.


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Jordan Kahn

January 22nd

Apple

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