Rumor: Apple planning CDMA iPhone, smaller iPad tablets, AMD-powered Apple TV devices

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 06:02
Category: Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, News, Rumor

It’s the rumor mill that keeps things interesting.

Per DigiTimes, overseas component suppliers have started rumors of a number of new products coming from Apple in the next year, including a new Apple TV running iOS and powered by an AMD Fusion processor, a 7″ iPad, a CDMA iPhone, and a new 9.7″ iPad with a Cortex-A9 processor and 512MB of RAM in 2011.

DigiTimes went somewhat overboard on Monday, reporting a lengthy list of potential future hardware from Apple. The site made mention of a Verizon-compatible CDMA iPhone expected to start production in December, piggybacking on rumors that resurfaced over the weekend, claiming the iPhone 4 will debut on the Verizon network in the U.S. in January 2011.

“Pegatron is expected to start mass production in December and will supply to both US-based Verizon Wireless and China-based China Telecom,” the report said. “The CDMA iPhone’s back plate will be forged from metal materials and will feature an integrated antenna.”

Sources also indicated to the publication that Apple will upgrade its 9.7″ iPad to an ARM Cortex-A9-based processor, and also add 512MB of RAM in the first quarter of 2011. The current model has 256MB or RAM and a custom A4 processor based on the Cortex-A8 design.

The report also rekindled rumors of a smaller iPad with a 7″ screen. The report claimed that the hardware will also sport a Cortex-A9-based processor, and like the 9.7-inch model, will have an LCD panel with in-plane switching technology and a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.

Finally, the report also claimed that the Cupertino, Calif., company is working on a new Apple TV powered by AMD’s Fusion package, dubbed an “accelerated processing unit,” or APU. AMD’s yet-to-be-released hybrid processor combines the CPU and GPU functions into one package. The ARM-based chips found in Apple’s iPhone and iPad already accomplish similar functions with low power consumption.

AMD touts that its forthcoming Fusion product will offer strong HD, 3D and data-intensive performance on the single-die processor. “APUs combine high-performance serial and parallel processing cores with other special-purpose hardware accelerators, enabling breakthroughs in visual computing, security, performance-per-watt and device form factor,” the company said.

DigiTimes claimed that the new Apple TV will switch to “a user interface similar to the iPhone with support for social networking websites, network multimedia and the App Store. Mass production of the device will start in December.”

Aside from the inclusion of an AMD processor, the rumors largely reiterate what was stated in May by assorted web sites. That report indicated that Apple would release a new product that would offer 1080P cloud-based content streaming for just US$99. However, it indicated that the device would run on a custom-built A4 processor, just like the iPad and iPhone 4.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple licenses new durable metal alloy for use in products

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:50
Category: News

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Apple has entered into an exclusive agreement to utilize amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures, allowing products that are stronger, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion.

Per AppleInsider, the metal alloys, owned by Liquidmetal Technologies, were developed by a research team at the California Institute of Technology, and their amorphous, non-crystalline structure makes them harder than alloys of titanium or aluminum.

Introduced for commercial applications in 2003 through the Delaware-based Liquidmetal corporation, the product has been used to create technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, has been found in medical equipment, and is even used to create sporting goods like tennis raquets and golf clubs.



In a Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last week, Liquidmetal Technologies indicated that it had granted all of its intellectual property assets to Apple. According to the terms of the deal, Apple was awarded “a perpetual, worldwide, fully-paid, exclusive license to commercial such intellectual property in the field of electronic products in exchange for a license fee.”

Though the licensing agreement grants Apple exclusive use in consumer electronics, Liquidmetal is still allowed to license its products to other companies for any use outside of markets where Apple competes, meaning its deals with defense contractors, sports equipment manufacturers and medical suppliers are likely to remain intact.

The agreement was made on August 5th, revealed to the SEC on Monday and was signed by Larry Buffington, president and CEO of Liquidmetal Technologies.

The company’s official website gives examples of where Liquidmetal’s products were used in portable electronics in the past. It touts that Liquidmetal alloys are 2.5 times the strength of commonly used titanium alloy and 1.5 times the hardness of stainless steel found in portable electronic devices. The technology is said to allow for thinner, smaller design while offering greater protection for internal components, and giving users a scratch and corrosion resistant exterior.

Past devices where Liquidmetal’s technology was utilized include the Nokia Vertu smartphone, Sandisk Sansa media player, and Sandisk U3 Smart thumb drives. The product was also used to create strong hinge components for devices like flip smartphones.

Apple’s interest in a company like Liquidmetal is no surprise, given its constant desire to create smaller and thinner devices. Apple has also employed a unibody design in its portable computers, beginning in early 2008 with the MacBook Air.

The precision unibody enclosures are milled from a single extruded block of aluminum, allowing devices like the MacBook Pro to become thinner while maintaining a rigid, sturdy frame. Previously, the frames of Apple’s notebooks were made from multiple parts. Now, raw aluminum is carved out using CNC, or “computer numerical control” machines.

Whatever becomes of this, you can’t say it won’t be interesting.

AT&T report to SEC hints at end of carrier exclusivity, possible Verizon CDMA iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, August 10th, 2010, 04:33
Category: iPhone, Rumor

It’s the rumor that won’t die, but it’s picking up some interesting evidence that might make it that much more valid.

Per the Wall Street Journal and Macworld, wireless carrier AT&T AT&T discussed its exclusivity arrangements at great length in its recent quarterly filing with the Securities Exchange Commission. The filing has sparked speculation not so much for what it said about the iPhone, but what it didn’t say.

When discussing its wireless business, the carrier said it offered a wide range of devices including 18 smartphones. The reason for offering so many phones, the company said, was to reduce “dependence on any single handset.” The reference to the “single handset” has been seen as pointing towards the iPhone, currently the most popular device AT&T offers for sale.

After declaring the company doesn’t depend on one handset, AT&T’s report gets even more suggestive. “As these exclusivity arrangements end,” the report says, “we expect to continue to offer such handsets…[and] do not expect any such terminations to have a material negative impact on our Wireless [sic] segment income.”

Taken together, the comments about dependence on one device and the end of exclusivity sure sound like AT&T may be preparing its investors for a soft landing once the carrier loses control of the iPhone.

While AT&T may be preparing for the end of iPhone exclusivity, Apple is reportedly ramping up production of CDMA chipsets for the iPhone, according to TechCrunch. CDMA is the cellular network standard used by Verizon, while current versions of the iPhone are made for GSM networks. So Apple would to produce a modified iPhone for Verizon, and that could take as long as six months.

Per TechCrunch, anonymous sources that purportedly have deep knowledge of Apple’s supply chain. The report contends that Apple has ordered “millions of units of Qualcomm CDMA chipsets” to produce Verizon-compatible iPhones. The handsets would reportedly be finished by December in time for a January launch.

It’s an old rumor by this point but there may be a nugget of truth to be found here.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.