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January 29, 2010

Apple iPad has own chip on its shoulder

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by Darren Allan

Recovered from the hullabaloo of the iPad‘s launch yet? On the technical side, one of the most interesting things about Apple’s new tablet computer is that it’s powered by its own chip.

The Apple A4 system-on-a-chip runs at 1GHz, and consists of a processor, graphics and memory controller all in one unit.

Apple has the power to produce its own processing hardware since it acquired PA Semi, the fabless semiconductor company, back in the spring of 2008.

PA Semi’s expertise was used in the creation of the iPad’s 1GHz heart, although it’s also rumoured that British chip firm ARM was possibly involved in the design.

The power to produce its own chips is an asset which gives Apple more independence and control over its development and production schedule, no longer having to rely on the likes of Intel.

It also means that the hardware can be better fine-tuned for a device in production, to help with issues such as battery life, for example. Apple claims the iPad has a battery life of 10 hours under normal usage, which is pretty impressive.

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