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Apple designs its own chip for iPad

Apple designs its own chip for iPad
San Francisco: Usually device maker buy their primary chips from specialized microprocessor companies, but Apple has defied the normal procedure by designing an A4 fingernail-sized chip for iPad. By designing its own processors burdens Apple with additional engineering costs and potential product delays, reports New York Times.

The hype surrounding Apple's tablet did not help Apple as many expert felt disappointment for the end product. "I don't see anything that looks that compelling," said Linley Gwennap, a Chip Analyst at the Linley Group. "It doesn't seem like something all that new, and, if it is, they are not getting far with it."

Steven P. Jobs, Apple's Chief Executive Officer, says that the A4 chip is "the most advanced chip" Apple had ever used and said it was crucial to the iPad's speed, reliability and 10-hour battery life. Apple had entered the chip business in 2008 by acquiring the 150-employee start-up PA Semi. That company had been working on chips that could handle large volumes of data while consuming very low amounts of power.

The A4-powered iPad's battery life and speed is similar to those of computers running on competing chips. Apple will soon be launching iPad in March which will be offering up to 16 hours of battery life when playing video. These will run on chips by Nvidia and Qualcomm that have designs reminiscent of the A4.

"From what we have seen so far, Apple's product seems to stack up evenly with the competition," said Dean McCarron, a chip analyst with Mercury Research. "Clearly, Apple is using their own metric for whatever 'best' is." Apple's laptops and desktops run on Intel chips, while Samsung has been selling Apple the primary chips for the iPhone.

Apple still appears committed to its chip plans. "This is somewhere where Apple thinks it can make a unique product, and it definitely signals a new direction for them," said Nathan Brookwood, a Chip Analyst at Insight 64.


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