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.

Popular Stories

iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
primeday2020 feature3

The Best Early Prime Day Deals on Apple Products

Saturday July 13, 2024 6:23 am PDT by
Amazon is soon to be back with its annual summertime Prime Day event, lasting for just two days from July 16-17. As it does every year, Prime Day offers shoppers a huge selection of deals across Amazon's storefront, and there are already many deals you can get on sale ahead of the event. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may...