Intrinsity (Formerly Exponential Technology) Now Speeding Up ARM CPUs

One of the major announcements alongside the Apple iPad launch was the fact that Apple is now in the chipmaking business. The Apple A4 is a system-on-chip that includes an ARM based processor that is believed to have been designed by the engineers Apple acquired along with P.A. Semi.

In our previous research of ARM based chip technology, we found that a company called Intrinsity was making a name for itself by accelerating ARM CPU designs while reducing power consumption. In July, Samsung announced an Intrinsity enhanced 1GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor called the Hummingbird which was to take on Qualcomm Snapdragon. Intrinsity accomplishes this by simplifying designs which make for smaller transistors which ultimately provides additional power savings.

The key to this and many other performance tricks is the type of logic gate Intrinsity uses: 1-of-n domino logic, or NDL, part of its suite of technologies called Fast14 (named after the atomic number of silicon). Russo says NDL can speed up a logical step by 40 to 60 percent. About a fifth of the A8s functions are benefiting from it, he adds.

What was most interesting to learn, however, was that Intrinsity design team was formerly from Exponential Technology in the 1990s prior to its dissolution.

Longtime Apple watchers will remember Exponential Technology as the company that promised to deliver super-fast PowerPC chips at a time when PowerPC lagged behind their Intel counterparts. A 1996 press release has a quote from Apple describing the Exponential X704 as a "major competitive advantage" for the Macintosh platform. Apple was even a major investor of the company. The relationship ultimately soured, however, when it became clear that Exponential couldn't keep pace with Motorola and IBM. Exponential even filed suit against Apple after they decided not to use the chips.

Now, we don't necessarily believe that Intrinsity is currently working with Apple, but it's certainly possible that their paths may cross again as Intrinsity is applying their techniques to Cortex A9 based technology. The Cortex A9 is likely to power a number of future products both from Apple and other companies.

Top Stories

lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
2019 mac pro side and front

Tim Cook Gifted Donald Trump 'First' 2019 Mac Pro

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:45 pm PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook gifted former United States President Donald Trump with the first 2019 Mac Pro that came off of the assembly line in Austin, Texas, according to a financial disclosure report that was released today (via The Verge). "Mac Pro Computer, the first created at the Flex Factory in Austin, Texas," reads the entry, which values the machine at $5,999, the base price for a Mac Pro....
Apple VR Feature

Bloomberg: Apple's First AR/VR Headset 'Pricey, Niche Precursor' to More Ambitious AR Glasses and Could Launch Next Year

Thursday January 21, 2021 3:27 am PST by
Apple's first virtual reality headset will be a "pricey, niche precursor" to a more ambitious augmented reality product, according to a new report from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view...
Flat MacBook Air Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on 'Thinner and Lighter' High-End MacBook Air With MagSafe, Could Launch in Second Half of 2021

Friday January 22, 2021 3:34 am PST by
Apple is working on a "thinner and lighter" version of the MacBook Air that the company plans to release during the second half of this year at the earliest or in 2022, according to a new report by well-connected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. It will include Apple's MagSafe charging technology and a next-generation version of the company's in-house Mac processors. Apple has discussed...
iOS 15 icon mock banner

iOS 15 Rumored to Drop Support for iPhone 6s and 2016 iPhone SE

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:58 am PST by
Apple's upcoming iOS 15 operating system, which we expect to see unveiled in June, is rumored to be dropping support for a few of Apple's older iPhones. According to French site iPhoneSoft, iOS 15 will not be able to be installed on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 6s Plus, or the 2016 iPhone SE, all of which have an A9 chip. The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus were introduced in 2015 and are now more...
iphone 12 vs iphone 12 mini

Apple Shifting Some Production From iPhone 12 mini to iPhone 12 Pro to Meet Demand

Wednesday January 20, 2021 8:12 am PST by
Apple has reportedly cut production of the iPhone 12 mini by two million units to create more manufacturing capacity for the iPhone 12 Pro, according to a new Morgan Stanley investment note seen by PED30. Apple is believed to have made the switch for the first quarter of 2021 in an effort to combat continuing lead times for the more popular iPhone 12 Pro. iPhone 12 Pro lead times remain ...
iPhone 13 Notch Feature

iPhone 13 Rumored to Feature Smaller Notch, Pro Model Cameras to Use Larger Image Sensor

Thursday January 21, 2021 1:38 am PST by
Apple's iPhone 13 series will feature a redesigned Face ID system that will allow for a smaller notch at the top of the screen, according to a new report today. The rumor comes via hit-and-miss Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, whose supply chain sources also claim that the ultra wide-angle lens in Apple's next-generation iPhones is due for an upgrade. The next-generation iPhones'...
maxresdefault

Video Demos macOS Catalina Running on iPad Pro via x86 Emulation

Thursday January 21, 2021 11:36 am PST by
A video demonstrating macOS Catalina running on a current 2020 iPad Pro has been shared on YouTube, giving us a look at an interesting hack that has a Mac OS up and working on one of Apple's iPads. There's limited information about how the process of getting macOS Catalina on an iPad Pro works, but it uses x86 emulation and was done through the UTM software that allows virtual machines to...
iOS 14

Apple Seeds iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 Release Candidate to Developers and Public Beta Testers

Thursday January 21, 2021 10:14 am PST by
Apple today seeded the RC version of upcoming iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the new betas coming a week after Apple released the second betas. iOS 14.4 and iPadOS 14.4 can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center or over the air after the proper profile has been installed on an iPhone or iPad. Paired with the HomePod 14.4 beta that is...
iPhone OIS Feature2

Sensor-Shift Camera Stabilization Rumored to Expand to Entire iPhone 13 Lineup

Wednesday January 20, 2021 7:46 am PST by
The entire iPhone 13 lineup will feature sensor-shift optical image stabilization, compared to only the iPhone 12 Pro Max among current models, according to a brief story preview shared today by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes. "Apple's next-generation iPhones slated for launch in the second half of 2021 will all come with sensor-shift stabilization technology, according to industry...