I’m going back in to crazy theory town, here we go… hang with me until the end.
Apple just released the iPhone 5C & iPhone 5S and with the 5S comes the new A7 chip with it’s almost odd 64-bit CPU.
While some people say having a 64-bit CPU is pointless (If so, why are samsung suddenly so keen to express they’ve always had the intention to ship one REALLY SOON?) I believe it’s not strictly pointless now and definitely not in the future. The biggest upshot of being 64-bit is RAM, you can finally break the 4GB limit, this isn’t much use as that much RAM on a smartphone would eat up battery and an incredibly low number of phones have 4GBs of RAM. The other upshot of 64-Bits is the ability to crunch really big numbers and the ability to crunch two 32-bit numbers at the same time. So for some graphics heavy math or certain cryptology stuff you can actually get a good amount of extra performance out of a 64-bit chip than a similarly clocked 32-bit counterpart. But this is only applicable to high end games, security software and maybe a few apps that deal with big numbers. It also allows engineers to look at how the instruction set works and make efficiencies such as more instructions per cycle, essentially making the CPU faster without increasing the clock speed. Apple have moved to the ARMv8 set, so this could account for the claims of “up to x2″ on the speed.
However, putting 64-bit to one side for the moment, I wish to direct your attention to a small leak just before the Apple announcement about an order from Apple for some new 17W power supplies. This suggests an entirely new product, one that needs quite a bit more power than the 10″ iPad (12W), but a lot less power than a Macbook Air (45W).
So in essence we can imagine some product with the capabilities between a Macbook Air and an iPad, as well as the power demands. I don’t want to dwell too much on the fantasy of such a device and all the issues that come with it. For not we can just cross breed the two and call it a “iOSBook” running a more capable version of iOS with more power user features such as more multi-tasking or even a hardware keyboard but more likely just a larger form factor iPad. All running Apple’s own custom iOS hardware, not off the shelf and tweaked PC hardware like the Mac.
What kind of chip would this system need? If it was to be a more multitask orientated device. It would need more RAM than an iPad… Say…? 4GBs or more?
Why for that you’d need a 64-bit ARM chip and an OS to support it!
All of which Apple has just announced last week.
I think 64-Bit could be there for this mystery device and that the iPhone 5S is just along for the ride, and also serves a purpose that when iPhones do ship with 4GBs of RAM, next year maybe the year after, the software will already be mature and optimised, leaving others to catch up.
I always say that the most interesting things about an Apple Event are the things they don’t say and leave you to fill in the blanks with.
I don’t think the new Apple TV or iWatch will be this new device either, the power requirements don’t match. A watch would need about 5W at most, but a large screen TV would need over 150W. I also doubt it is for a new version of the current Apple TV puck, they only need 6 and I doubt Apple would want to put it on the outside anyway.
To quote Douglas Adams “If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands”
To me the 17W Power supply is the quack of a larger iPad or ARM powered notebook.
EDIT: Some people have said they’re not sure where this would fit in the line up. I think it would enable them to make a high margin notebook, at a sub $999 price range. It wouldn’t be an attack against Android but more an attack against Microsoft and possibly Google’s ChromeBooks.
Apple have proven that they are not afraid of cannibalising there own products, in this case it would be MacBook Airs.
But it would be the bringing a new kind of desktop experience not possible today with modified PC hardware running Apple’s OS X.