Rumor: Samsung initiates 20% price increase for iOS device chips

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Date: Monday, November 12th, 2012, 08:05
Category: Hardware, iPad, iPhone, iPod, Processors, Rumor

I think it’s about time we just rename “Apple” and “Samsung” as the “Hatfields” and the “McCoys”, because this is going to drag on for a while.

Per MarketWatch, Samsung has allegedly increased the price of its mobile processors by 20 percent for just one company: Apple.

The details come from an unnamed person allegedly familiar with negotiations between the two companies.

The person indicated that Samsung asked for a “significant price raise” for building chips such as the A6 chip found in the iPhone 5 and the A6X processor that powers the fourth-generation iPad.

Apple apparently balked at the terms of the deal at first, but eventually accepted the 20 percent price hike, as it could not find any other company to build its mobile processor.

All of Apple’s application processors for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are made by Samsung. The company produces the chips at its fabrication plant in Austin, Tex.

Samsung is expected to build a total of 200 million chips for Apple this year. The companies have allegedly signed a long-term supply contract through 2014.

Although though Samsung remains the sole supplier of Apple’s custom chips found in the iPhone and iPad, the company has long been rumored to be pursuing a chipmaking partnership with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. One report from last month claimed that TSMC could begin building quad-core 20-nanometer chips for Apple as soon as late 2013.

And in October it was said that Apple was getting “serious” about moving chip production away from Samsung. Around the same time, Apple also hired away former Samsung chip designer Jim Mergard, who also designed and developed chips for AMD for 16 years.

Last week, one report claimed that Samsung was expecting to lose a portion of its future chip orders from Apple. It indicated that the Korean electronics company may put off construction of a new fabrication facility because of the expected decrease in orders.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Initial tests show faster boot, read and write times under Apple’s Fusion Drive

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Date: Friday, November 9th, 2012, 08:59
Category: hard drive, Hardware, iMac, Mac mini, News

There may be ample reason to go with a Fusion Drive inside your Mac.

Per Techfast Lunch&Dinner, a series of tests run by the site found the Fusion Drive Mac mini started in just 15.7 seconds, while the 2012 Mac mini with a traditional hard drive took 34.1 seconds to start.

Major improvements were also found in a disk speed test, which revealed the Fusion Drive can achieve read speeds of more than 300 megabytes per second, and write speeds exceeding 400 megabytes per second. In comparison, the Mac mini with 5400-rpm drive couldn’t exceed 100 megabytes per second on either the read or write test.

Fusion Drive was unveiled by Apple last month and is an upgrade option in the company’s latest Mac minis and iMacs. Apple has said the feature offers nearly the same performance as a solid-state drive, but also allows considerably more storage at a lower price point.

Apple’s Fusion Drives feature 128 gigabytes of flash storage paired with either a 1-terabyte or 3-terabyte 5400-rpm hard drive. Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion operating system calculates which files and applications are used the most and automatically places them on the faster solid-state drive, while less frequently accessed software remains stored on the spinning drive.

Core applications and the operating system are permanently stored and accessed from the flash memory, while the leftover space is used for those frequently accessed files, folders or programs. File transfers between the drives take place in the background dynamically, so the system is seamless and unobtrusive to the user.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller last month compared the Fusion Drive to a baseline 1TB 7200 RPM HDD. He said the Fusion drive performs an Aperture photo import 3.5 times faster, a file copy of a 4GB folder 3.5 times faster, and system boot 1.7 times faster.

If you’ve gotten your mitts on a new Mac with a Fusion Drive and have any feedback to offer about it, please let us know in the comments.

Foxconn chair cites crushing demand, possible delays for iPhone 5 units

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Date: Wednesday, November 7th, 2012, 08:49
Category: Hardware, iPhone, News

You know that iPhone 5 you ordered?

You may have to wait a little longer for it to be manufactured and ship.

Per Reuters, Crushing demand for the iPhone 5 has proven to be too much for Apple’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, to handle, as it continues to struggle to produce the device.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou admitted on Wednesday that his company is finding it difficult to meet the significant demand for Apple’s iPhone 5. Foxconn is Apple’s primary partner for assembly of a number of its devices, including the iPhone.

“It’s not easy to make the iPhones,” Gou reportedly said. “We are falling short of meeting the huge demand.”

Sales of the iPhone 5 have been held back by limited supply since the device launched in September. Apple itself said the company has been “completely blown away” by consumer demand for the device.

In particular, the in-cell touch panel and aluminum chassis featured in the new design of the iPhone 5 are said to have posed quality control issues for both Apple and Foxconn. One unnamed source from Foxconn revealed in October that the iPhone 5 is “the most difficult device” the company has ever been tasked with assembling.

Rumors first surfaced a month ago that Foxconn had expanded production to a subsidiary known as Foxconn International Holdings in an effort to boost production. When asked about that rumor on Wednesday, Gou declined to comment.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple receives patent for “ionic wind generator”, may look to replace conventional fans in upcoming devices

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Date: Tuesday, November 6th, 2012, 08:10
Category: Hardware, News, Patents

applelogo_silver

This could turn into something interesting.

And, hey, if it works…there might be fewer dust bunnies in your computing devices.

Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Apple on Tuesday a patent for a cooling system that blows ionized air through an electronic device, controlling its path by creating electromagnetic fields that can be dynamically adjusted to direct cooling where it’s needed most.

Apple’s U.S. Patent No. 8,305,728 for “Methods and apparatus for cooling electronic devices,” describes a system in which the direction of ionized air moving through a computing device is deflected by either an electric or magnetic field. Currently, mechanical fans pull in air and push it through predetermined physical paths within a computer, usually over passive heat exchangers, and out through an exhaust port.

Driving the air in Apple’s system is the ionic wind generator, basically a solid-state air mover based on “corona discharge–an electrical discharge near a charged conductor caused by the ionization of the surrounding air.” The system is comprised of a corona electrode, a collector electrode and a high voltage power supply. When voltage is applied to electrodes, an electric field is created and causes particles in the surrounding air to take on a charge, or become ionized. An electric field propels the charged particles toward the collector electrode, which collide with other neutral particles as they move to create to generate “bulk air movement.”

As the ionized air moves through the device, it can be deflected or redirected by a “deflection field generator,” which can be a magnet or electromagnet. The magnitude of deflection is governed by the Lorentz force, or force on a charged particle from an electromagnetic field, which can be varied by the deflection field generator.

By employing standard issue heat sensors, the ion wind pump and deflection field generator system can direct cooling air to high temperature areas like the CPU or GPU.

The system also solves another problem associated with always-on mechanical fans, the so-called “no slip” condition at the “surface and the mean free stream velocity at the outer reaches from the surface” of a component. When such a condition arises, it creates a boundary layer of air over a component, making heat transfer more difficult. By modulating the rate of deflection, or time in which air flow passes over a component, the system creates eddy currents and turbulent flows to disturb the boundary layer.

Finally, the ionized air exits the device through a vent that is in the path of the ionic pump’s normal air flow.

Interestingly, the invention notes that the system is not limited to large desktops and laptops, but in mobile devices such as cell phones and media players as well.

Although such ion wind pump technologies are used in specialized industrial and laboratory settings, a solution has not yet been presented in a consumer device. Apple has shown that it is actively looking to solve issues related to cooling internal components, including noise reduction as seen with the asymmetrical fans in both MacBook Pro with Retina display models, however it is unknown if the company will implement the solid state generator any time soon.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Warranty firm performs “drop tests” on iPad mini, third-gen iPad, Nexus 7, comes up with winner

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:35
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

You can feel confident dropping your brand new iPad mini.

But you probably shouldn’t go dropping your iPad mini.

Per a series of informal tests performed by third-party electronics warranty firm Square Trade, Apple’s new iPad mini outperformed both Google’s Nexus 7 and the third-generation iPad.

A total of three tests were performed by protection plan provider Square Trade, two using a specialized apparatus that dropped the three tablets from a height of four feet, and one where the devices were simply dunked in a container of water for ten seconds.

Unlike other tests, the iPad mini experiment utilized a machine to drop the tablets at the same time under similar conditions. In the two tests, the devices were dropped on their corners and front faceplate. The iPad mini fared the best out of the three for the corner drop, suffering only minor aesthetic damage with no screen cracks, while the edge of the Nexus 7′s display showed some trauma and the full-size iPad suffered major cracks from the point of impact.

Up next was the face-down test, in which the Nexus saw slight fissures in its display glass, while the screens of the iPad mini and third-gen iPad were significantly fractured. The test did not attempt to turn the devices on after they were dropped.

Finally, the tablets were turned on and submerged in water for ten seconds, after which they were taken out and inspected. The iPad mini appeared to function normally, while the 9.7-inch iPad’s home button malfunctioned and seemed to respond sluggishly to touch input. It is unclear how the Nexus performed as the device was quickly glossed over as it had started a reboot during the process, and was declared “unresponsive” by the tester.

Taking all three drops into consideration, the firm gave the nod to the iPad mini.

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, let us know what you make of the video:



Apple introduces Lightning to Micro USB adapter to North American customers

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Date: Monday, November 5th, 2012, 07:02
Category: Hardware, News

You can’t knock a useful adapter.

Per AppleInsider, alongside the iPad mini, Apple on Friday introduced the Lightning to micro USB adapter, a tiny dongle first available in Europe, to the U.S. market.

Initially built and released in tandem with the iPhone 5 in Europe to fulfill the European Commission’s regulation that all smartphones sold in the region be micro USB compatible, the US$19 adapter has now become available in North America.

Previously, those iPhone, iPod and now iPad users needed to buy the component through third-party resellers or directly from an Apple Store in Europe if they wanted to charge and sync their devices via micro USB. As there is no official standard in the U.S., manufacturers offer their products in a variety of charging methods, causing many consumers to build up a stockpile of various cables and chargers. The Lightning to micro USB adapter looks to do away with at least one of those cables.

Apple’s adapter is compatible with the iPhone 5, fifth-generation iPod touch, seventh-generation iPod nano, fourth-generation iPad, and iPad mini. According to the company’s website, the dongle is able to both charge and sync devices, though it is unlikely that audio line out is supported as the Lightning protocol is completely digital and would require an embedded digital-to-analog converter to function.

The US$19 adapter can be purchased directly from store.apple.com, with shipments available to ship in one to three days.

If you’ve tried the adapter and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

iFixit completes iPad mini teardown, finds Samsung LCD, similar design elements found in iPhone 5

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 08:12
Category: Hardware, iPad mini, News

There’s some cool stuff inside the iPad mini and the coolest-of-cats over at iFixit performed their usual teardown magic to find what said cool stuff was.

Per the teardown, iFixit found the device has a large metal plate behind its screen held in place by 16 screws. Similar plates were found in the iPhone 5, as well as the new fifth-generation iPod touch, which led the repair experts to conclude the plate is a “new iDevice design convention.”

Upon removing the thin panel, the first exposed integrated circuit is the Murata 339S0171 Wi-Fi module — a component that is also found inside the iPhone 5.

The integrated circuits controlling the display reveal the LCD panel was built by Samsung. Apple is said to be looking to buy components from companies other than Samsung, which is a chief rival, but the Korean electronics maker was also the sole supplier of LCD panels for the third-generation iPad Retina display earlier this year.

The disassembly also confirmed that the iPad mini does have stereo speakers. By replacing the 30-pin dock connector with the smaller Lightning port, Apple has “just enough space” to squeeze in a second speaker.

Antennas are also found atop each speaker in the iPad mini, presumably for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The speakers are held in place by what iFixit said are some of the smallest screws they have ever seen.

The Lightning connector was also found to be soldered to the logic board in the iPad mini, a change from the dock connector in the third-generation iPad that would make repairs “very expensive.”

The full list of chips found on the logic board are:
- Apple A5 processor

- Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

- Apple 343S0593-A5

- Apple 338S1116 — an unknown chip found also found in the fifth-generation iPod touch; appears similar to Apple 338S1117 found in the iPhone 5

- Fairchild PCHPS FDMC 6676BZ

- Fairchild BC7BE F0MC 6683

If you’ve gotten your hands on an iPad mini and have any feedback, please let us know what’s on your mind in the comments section.

iFixit tears down fourth-gen iPad, finds similar design, updated processor, components

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Date: Friday, November 2nd, 2012, 07:04
Category: Hardware, iPad, News

The fourth-gen iPad is faster with a better camera and a Lightning connector, but it’s apparently still the same beast as the third-gen iPad.

The cool cats at iFixit have completed a teardown of Apple’s new tablet and found that the tablet’s internal design has remained essentially untouched when compared to the previous iteration.

Hours after iFixit tore down the iPad mini, the firm did the same with Apple’s new 9.7-inch tablet to find that the iterative component changes didn’t warrant a redesign of the chassis or internal layout.

The tablet dissected by iFixit happened to be using an LG-sourced Retina display, not a Samsung panel like those first seen with the initial rollout of the third-generation iPad. At the time, it was reported that LG Display was ramping up production of their own high-resolution displays and began shipment months later. Samsung is still thought to be one of the main suppliers for the 9.7-inch panels, though Apple has recently made moves to diversify its supply chain.

Most of the significant changes were seen in the device’s logic board, which now boasts an A6X processor clocked at 1.4GHz with quad core graphics and 1GB of memory. Components on the backside of the board, such as the Broadcom touchscreen controller, were identical to the third-generation iPad.

Full list of chips found on the logic board:
- Apple A6X SoC

- Hynix H2JTDG8UD2MBR 16 GB NAND Flash

- Apple 338S1116 Cirrus Logic Audio Codec

- 343S0622-A1 Dialog Semi PMIC

- Apple 338S1077 Cirrus Logic Class D Amplifier

- QVP TI 261 A9P2

It appears that Apple chose not to utilize the space afforded by its switch to the Lightning connector, as the extra room is left unfilled. In fact, the Lightning connector is placed in a frame that is the same size as the outgoing 30-pin unit.

The other notable change is the tablet’s upgraded front-facing camera, which gets a spec bump from 0.3 megapixels to 1.2 megapixels, granting it the FaceTime HD moniker.

Unveiled alongside the iPad mini at a special event in October, the fourth-generation iPad is available today at only at brick-and-mortar Apple Stores, as preorders for the device sold out on Tuesday.

If you’ve gotten your hands on the new fourth-gen iPad and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

ARM lays out specs for 64-bit Cortex-A50 mobile processors, sets release date for 2014

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Date: Wednesday, October 31st, 2012, 06:15
Category: Hardware, News, Processors

No matter how nifty your devices are, it’s the next-gen stuff that smacks of awesome promises.

Per AppleInsider, processor company ARM on Tuesday unveiled new its next-generation of high-performance, power sipping 64-bit chips — CPUs that could power future devices from companies like Apple as soon as 2014.

ARM’s new Cortex-A50 processor series is based on the ARMv8 architecture. The series will initially include the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57 processors with new energy-efficient 64-bit processing technology.

ARM said its new system-on-chips will be available for use in products ranging from smartphones to servers. The new chips will be 64-bit-capable, but will also support 32-bit software.

ARM said the addition of 64-bit execution to its A50 chip line will “enable new opportunities in networking, server, and high-performance computing.” The new chips are expected to boost smartphone and tablet speeds while also reducing power consumption.

The Cortex-A57 will be the most advanced high-performance applications processor, while the Cortex-A53 has the distinction of being the world’s smallest 64-bit processor, and ARM’s most power-efficient application processor.

Currently, Apple’s iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV are all powered by custom chips based on ARM’s reference designs. Apple’s work in this area has grown over the years, as the new A6 chip in the iPhone 5 represents Apple’s first custom-designed CPU core.

The A6 chip is based on Apple’s own ARMv7-based processor design, and is not based on ARM’s Cortex-A9 or Cortex-A15 designs. The chip features a gigabyte of RAM with two CPU and three GPU cores, and Apple’s first-ever control of the design allowed the company to customize the performance as they chose.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

OWC Aura Pro fits into 13-inch MacBook Pro via included drive caddy

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Date: Thursday, October 25th, 2012, 20:16
Category: hard drive, Hardware, MacBook Pro, News

This could be nifty.

According to an entry on the OWC blog, the OWC Aura Pro solid state drive fits just fine in Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s drive caddy (something new that wasn’t in the 15″ model), and so far everything seems to be running quite solidly.

Albeit there’s still a battery of tests to conduct, the drive seems to work well in the new notebook with no side effects.

Not a bad thing for an SSD unit that’s about US$200 cheaper than Apple’s drive, as mentioned by the mighty Jason over on the Apple Core

If you’ve tried the OWC Aura Pro in your brand new 13-inch MacBook Pro and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.