PLAYGROUND SPATS seem to be the hallmark of the technology world these days, and the latest executive to pull on Apple's pigtails is Qualcomm SVP and chief marketing officer Anand Chandrasekher.
Speaking to IDG Newswire, Chandrasekher questioned why the new Apple A7 system on chip (SoC), which we previously revealed is fabbed for Apple by arch-rival Samsung, has 64-bit instructions and memory address space without the additional memory to make a difference.
"Predominantly you need [64-bits] for memory addressability beyond 4GB. That's it. You don't really need it for performance and the kinds of applications that 64-bit get used in mostly are large, server-class applications. I think they are doing a marketing gimmick."
The new iPhone 5S that uses the A7 chip has 1GB of DRAM memory, a quarter of the amount that Chandrasekher seemed to believe would need a 64-bit processor. At launch, Apple claimed that the 64-bit processor makes the phone twice as fast as its predecessor with a 32-bit processor. The reality seems somewhat more uncertain, with pro-Apple benchmarkers agreeing, while detractors disagree. No change there, really.
However, Chanrasekher's characterisation was somewhat incomplete. By definition 64-bit processors have 64-bit instruction widths, so 64-bit chips don't just offer a larger memory address space, they also enable wider floating-point computing. That's used in fast fourier transforms that are the basis for a lot of audio and image processing, so they can do in fewer instructions what 32-bit chips need many instructions to accomplish. It really takes benchmarking to tell whether a 64-bit chip is faster for particular applications in real world scenarios.
Therefore the comments from Qualcomm might be somewhat unhelpful, and benchmark results likely will have to settle the matter. Also, with Samsung having already committed to launch 64-bit phones in 2014, this suggests that in order to take advantage of them, the amount of DRAM in phones will also have to shoot up, and that will in turn drive up prices.
Additionally, as Qualcomm has no control over the amount of RAM used in handsets, it seems that, back in the playground, what Chandrasekher actually did was scream "Apple smells", before running off to play with his slightly inferior toy at the other end near the swings. Ah well.
Boys will be boys. µ
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