back to article Apple to dial x86 for iPhone?

Suddenly, Apple's apparent downer on third-party iPhone software development becomes much clearer. Taiwanese moles claim the company is considering founding future iPhones on the next generation of Intel's Ultra Mobile Platform. Today's iPhones are based on ARM processor technology. Intel abandoned its ARM chip line in …


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  1. Groz Bat


    Does nnyone know what advantage will be gained by using Intel's chips instead of ARM chips?

    And can anyone fathom out why Apple don't support Java for 3rd party apps on the iPhone?

  2. Lou Gosselin

    x86 as a defacto standard

    Everyone knows that x86 is not and never was a superior architecture compared to others. These days, if not for the pre-existing large user base, the entire x86 architecture would never survive commercially.

    Today they still make each chip backwards compatible with the original real mode on the 8088 pc, certainly an amazing feat, however not something to be proud of inside of, let's say, one's iphone.

  3. Dom

    Portability is *so* difficult...

    Which is why Debian runs on AMD64, Alpha, Arm, HPPA, i386, IA64, m68k, Mips, Mipsel, PPC, S390 and Sparc.

  4. Cyberspice

    What's wrong with re-compilation?

    Unless the third party software is very poorly written why can't it just be recompiled or built as a universal binary. They've done it on the desktop with PowerPC to x86 (and that involved an endian change) why not with ARM to x86 (which probably wouldn't involve an endian change). For desktop OS-X, if it was developed in X-Code, it was simply a case of updating the (free) tools, checking a box, and clicking the build button...

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    It's not the chip that matters

    Well, not much, especially not with Mac OS X for Intel already exists. But many third party applications will want to access the hardware where drivers, specs and developer support will be required and Apple is probably not ready for this. They might open the technically non-phone iTouch's to developers to encourage the "nearly" phone market that American WiFi hotspots and WiMax and "spectrum neutrality" would seem to offer without pissing off the networks: fashion accessory with VoIP capability in most metropolitan areas.

    But x86 is shit for a mobile platform particularly when it comes to the item dearest to most users hearts: power consumption and battery life. Intel's engineers will no doubt do some amazing work but ARM offers more bangs per Watt or dollar.

  6. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    What problem ?

    What a complete red-herring !

    OK, so a few developers will still be lazy and ignore the lessons of the past decade or two, but for most apps it will be a case of :

    edit code

    type 'make'

    build process spits out two binaries !

    Just for reference, and as a quick example, I note that Debian GNU/Linux has support as standard for 11 (yes eleven) architectures - and have automated build processes so that people don't have to manually build different packages.

    Also, don't forget that developers already have to support multiple architectures in the Wintel world - that's several different versions of Windows (pre-Vista) which all have different requirements, and Vista which is totally different. Oh yes, and don't forget that there are 64bit versions of Windows as well.

    As for Apple having to field support calls asking why their phone crashed - <male reproductive organs> ! All the OS has to do is check the architecture of the app before launching it, and if it's wrong then pop up a dialog telling the user that it's incompatible and to "contact the application vendor".

    See, no problem.

  7. druck Silver badge

    Why indeed

    x86 in phones is a sick joke, just the decode unit to convert the worlds worst instruction set in to something remotely executable is larger than an entire ARM based system on chip. The only way it will ever be competitive for mips/watt is if Intel manage to prevent any ARM designs being made on fab plants newer than 2 generations ago.

  8. Michael Keefer

    This is not a reason for preventing 3rd party applications or releasing SDK

    I'm sure that many people misunderstand the technical issues at play when changing a processor so let me explain this for everyone at a very "user" level:

    1.) Processors run Machine Code, Programmers write in c, c++ or ASM, Programmers then compile programs from these higher level languages (easier to read than machine code) into machine code using software called "a compiler"

    2.) Releasing these applications for Intel chip when written for ARM is no more difficult than recompiling for the new chips.

    3.) SDK would not change, only the compiler would change... that will have to be provided by Apple (though the 3rd party area can and will do it).

    4.) Many people who already own iPhone are not going to buy a new one and so all applications which Apple provides are going to have to be compiled by them for not only ARM but also the newer Intel.

    Basically to close, this is all just rumor so far. Apple is not expected to support 3rd party applications. The developers of 3rd party applications will continue to update and support their programs for as long as they are able to write them for the iPhone. Apple suggesting or this author inferring that this is the reason/justification for not allowing 3rd party applications or releasing an SDK is total ... well for lack of a better word that will make it through the censorship, BUNK.

    -Mike Keefer

  9. Harris Upham

    missing the point

    Hobson- the popup that says "contact (any) vendor" is exactly what Apple is trying to sidestep. They are clearly trying to raise the usability bar. They want a phone that doesn't throw confusing questions at grandma. Only computers do that. Perhaps artificial, but I think that's what they're shooting for. It may not make a better product on an absolute scale, but it will be improved enough to increase sales.

    Let's face it- they could handle the portability thing IF 3rd party applications were the goal.

    They could also add rotating blades, extension grip and a 6hp gas engine, if tilling the garden were the goal.

    Thing is, the goal seems to be making a phone that's super easy to sell because it never confuses users with any kind of popup about contacting anyone.

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