At their earnings call the other Day Intel made the statement that they are at least three years ahead of other companies when it comes to silicon manufacturing. Yesterday and today the news is all about how ARM is preparing to compete with Intel in the server market with their 64-bit RISC processors which are to be manufactured using the same tri-gate manufacturing that Intel is currently using for their Ivy Bridge CPUs. You know the ones that have been shipping since early this year? This means that no matter how thin you slice it ARM will not have able to make a tri-gate CPU until at least 2014-2015.
Over the weekend rumors popped up that nVidia was preparing to begin a full recall on all Kepler based products. The rumor cited a leak from TSMC stating that Kepler “chips may be suffering from serious performance degradation over long periods of heavy load”. This sounds almost exactly like what came out of “sources” at TSMC during the “bumpgate” issue that happened when the solder bumps in certain GPUs were failing due to degradation over multiple heat cycles. However, does this rumor have any truth to it? Or are we seeing a return to the days of Guerilla marketing like we did in the early 2000s.
Since AMD has had a few leaks about their Tahiti GPU it only serves to reason that nVidia would manage a few of their own. After all, what is good for one side is good for the other. We found these while clicking around (as usual) looking for something interesting out there to write about. We happened upon a German 3D site called 3DCenter and found a very interesting news post to write about indeed.
In talking about Apple (and SIri) over the last couple of days I started to think about what Apple does that is “right”. I know that most of the media and many consumers view almost any Apple product as glorious and Apple can do no wrong. While that is not true there is something important in that mindset and it finally dawned on me why Apple is vital to the future of the computer industry. It is not because they make amazing products with quality second to none.
The fact is they make good products with the same quality as everyone else. If you did not know already every iPhone, iPod and Mac is made by Foxconn over in China. The line that assembles these is very close to the line that builds HP, Dell and others (at least they were the last time I checked). This means that the same level of build quality is present in all of those devices. If you are getting an Apple product there is not some magical line that makes their devices better. The same can be said for the components inside. The A4 and the original A5 found in the iPad2 was not manufactured by Apple it was made by Samsung (which makes the lawsuits very interesting and is another case of Apple biting the hand the fed them). The more recent ones (after April 2011) have been made by TSMC. These are the same guys that make nVidia and AMD GPUs as well as many other ARM processors. Again there is nothing that makes Apple product magically better using either of these companies.
No it is not Apple’s hardware that makes them vital to the tech world. It is also not their software. True the iOS is fast and nimble, just like OSX is. However, it is fast and nimble on a very narrow hardware group. If you take it outside that and manage to get different hardware to work you will find that it is not so quick.
In short terms the thing that makes Apple crucial and an amazing company is this; No one can sell a product like Apple. You just cannot do it. All you have to do is look back at recent history to see what I mean. For example, let’s take the MP3 player. Long before the first iPod hit there was an MP3 Player from Creative called Nomad that pretty much kicked things off. Many other companies came along and put out MP3 players at the same time, even D-Link had one.
In fact the MP3 player looked like it was going to fade away when Apple released the iPod with a new device inside, the Micro Drive from IBM (and later Fujitsu). This meant that while other companies were pushing 16, 32 and 128 MB (yes Megabyte) Apple could put 1-2 GB and more space in their products. Later as these drives grew (and the advent of the 1.8-inch drive) the size of the iPod grew while other companies were barely getting by with the smaller amounts of flash memory. Apple’s product was not all that better, it was primitive with basic controls but it was good looking and offered more from the consumer’s point of view. This was even more true when you combined iTunes and the $0.99 song. Apple showed people that they wanted this product. The iPod became a synonym for MP3 player. You can follow this chain through the iPhone and the iPad. On the day the iPhone launched there were more sophisticated phones and phones with better support. However, the iPhone caught the consumer’s imagination. Suddenly they wanted these products. A touch screen phone? With icons. Wow. Of course there had been touch screen Windows Mobile phones and Palm based phones for years before. Still the smart phone market as an entertainment and business tool did not take off until Apple launched the iPhone. It is the same story with the iPad and now Natural Voice Command. Both of these products have been out for a long time, but Apple has been able to make people WANT them.
So you can criticize Apple for their xenophobic ways, their controlling nature, their reprehensible patent policies and legal team (I know I will). In the same breath, anyone in the tech industry should also be thanking them. Without Apple, so many of the cool toys that we love and want would never survive in the market. We might also still have nothing more than boxy and bulky laptops right next to those terrible unstylish off-white cases that were so popular…
Think about it.
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According to a few articles on the internet and a few things that are rumbling along the “usual lines” nVidia could already have working 28nm Silicon. Although no one seems to know what this silicon is a good guess would be Tegra. Jen-Hsun Huang, nVidia’s CEO, has been quotes are saying they have an entire team working to make this move much smoother than the one to 40nm.
If you were not around for that one let’s just say it was a mess and nVidia lost a lot of money due to bad yields and other issues that were spawned by TSMC (Taiwanese Silicon Manufacturing Company) and their own rough transition to this die size. However, if you remember during this troubling time for both nVidia and TSMC there was an announcement that TSMC had already begun work moving to 28nm.
This announcement was made by TSMC around September/October which would make the timing for this about right. So, if TSMC has gotten their 28nm process right and nVidia is truly moving Tegra to 28nm first (and has working silicon) then the logical guess for this working Silicon is Tegra. The question now is which Tegra? It is highly unlikely to be Kal-El, but considering the claims that Jen-Hsun is making, a quad core ARM based SoC (System on Chip) that uses less power than the current dual core, we have to wonder. This is speculation of course but we do have some evidence for this supposition. It would also seem to fit the delays of this new mobile chip that we have heard about (now they are saying Holiday Season). It would not be beyond the realm of probability to see these SoCs ready for December and products out in January/February time frame which again could mean the Kal-El will show up as 28nm and not 40nm… But to be honest it is VERY unlikely.
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