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AnandTech – Applied Micros X-Gene: The First ARMv8 SoC

APM expects that even with a late 2012 launch it will have a 1 Р2 year lead on the competition. If it can get the X-Gene out on time, hitting power and clock targets both very difficult goals, the headstart will be tangible. Note that by the end of 2012 well only just begin to see the first Cortex A15 implementations. ARMv8 based competitors will likey be a full year out, at least. 

via AnandTech – Applied Micros X-Gene: The First ARMv8 SoC.

Chip Diagram for the ARM version 8 as implemented by APM

It’s nice to get a confirmation of the production time lines for the Cortex A15 and the next generation ARM version 8 architecture. So don’t expect to see shipping chips, much less finished product using those chips well into 2013 or even later. As for the 4 core ARM A15, finished product will not appear until well into 2012. This means if Intel is able to scramble, they have time to further refine their Atom chips to reach the power level and Thermal Design Point (TDP) for the competing ARM version 8 architecture. What seems to be the goal is to jam in more cores per CPU socket than is currently done on the Intel architecture (up to almost 32 in on of the graphics presented with the article).

The target we are talking about is 2W per core @ 3Ghz, and it is going to be a hard, hard target to hit for any chip designer or manufacturer. One can only hope that TMSC can help APM get a finished chip out the door on it’s finest ruling chip production lines (although an update to the article indicates it will ship on 40nm to get it out the door quicker). The finer the ruling of signal lines on the chip the lower the TDP, and the higher they can run the clock rate. If ARM version 8 can accomplish their goal of 2W per cpu core @ 3 Gigahertz, I think everyone will be astounded. And if this same chip can be sampled at the earliest prototypes stages by a current ARM Server manufacturer say, like Calxeda or even SeaMicro then hopefully we can get benchmarks to show what kind of performance can be expected from the ARM v.8 ¬†architecture and instruction set. These will be interesting times.

Intel Atom CPU Z520, 1,333GHz
Image via Wikipedia

OS X 10.6 – 64bits? Meh.

There is no doubt 64-bits is nice architectural change but it doesn’t mean you’re receiving all the benefits of the change. If Apple doesn’t quickly upgrade it’s vast stable of killer multimedia applications, it doesn’t really matter how good Snow Leopard is. Even after installing Snow Leopard it is hard for me to notice a significant difference. I would settle for some extra quickness or capability in iLife that wasn’t possible before Snow Leopard.

Add to this the fact you need a full 64-bit clean environment to really guarantee you are in 64bit mode. The boot-up environment known as EFI was n ot 64-bit clean until after 2008. The Intel CPU wasn’t 64-bit clean until after 2007. Two strikes against me as I was an early adopter of the Intel Architecture and am relegated to good ol’ 32-bit compatibility mode. Unless I decide to upgrade of course, which isn’t going to happen because I have a sworn duty to first replace my wife’s old PC after Windows 7 is formally released. Once that purchase is done and out of the way, then I will consider getting a re-furbished post 2008 Mac Pro tower with a fully OpenCL compatible graphics card. There’s just so many considerations, you need to keep writing all of them down so you don’t lose track.

Of course, Apple itself needs to deliver 64-bit versions of its own Logic Studio, Final Cut Studio, and Aperture, too. The company was previously outpaced by its third party developers in the move to PowerPC, and to a lesser extent, in the move to Intel Macs. Apple’s position as both a platform vendor and an application developer should help it to deliver practical, usable tools for its own developers.

via AppleInsider | Inside Mac OS X Snow Leopard: 64-bits.