Apple’s new 64-bit chip is too much for a smartphone, but great for a MacBook

iPhone 5 event Phil Schiller CPU Performance

Apple’s chip designers have been working overtime with the introduction of the first 64-bit chip for a smartphone in the A7 and a brand new sensor processing chip dubbed the M7 as part of its iPhone 5s launch. These chips make the iPhone 5s incredibly advanced, but they also hint at Apple’s future plans.

For chip nerds the idea of 64-bit chip inside a smartphone is overkill. The benefits of a 64-bit chip is that is can take advantage of 4 gigabytes of addressable RAM, but most smartphones are barely hitting 2 or 3 GB of RAM today. Plus, the operating system has to be tweaked to run on a 64-bit chip. So it’s not a stretch to guess that the A7 will eventually show up in MacBooks where a 64-bit chip makes more sense. Apple has already ported OS X to the ARM architecture, which means it could run on the A7 if it’s powerful enough — or a next generation version of the same chip. Currently MacBook Airs are running Intel’s latest Haswell chips and the rest are on third-generation Core i5/i7 chips.

As for the M7, it’s a new type of processor that will gather sensor data from the accelerometer, compass and gyroscopes and then feed relevant information to the A7. That will take some of the burden off the application processor, but more importantly it will be an integral component to any sort of wearable device that can’t claim access to such a powerful CPU. My hunch is you will see the M7 in wearable designs wedded to a much lower-power chip.

Does anyone want an iWatch?

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