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64-bit chip gives Apple a way to out-Surface Microsoft, Windows OEMs

Gregg Keizer | Sept. 18, 2013
'Desktop-class' A7 could signal new convertible hardware based on the iPad, say analysts.

"Apple's transitional tools have always been pretty good," Bajarin noted, mentioning Rosetta, the binary translation tool that let Intel Mac owners run most software written for the PowerPC. "If you have the CPU power, [running a translator or emulator] is a moot point," he added, again citing the A7 and its 64-bit architecture.

Neither Bajarin or Moorhead imagined a timetable if Apple decides to use the A7 and 64-bit as a jumping-off point for new devices, a smart move because of Apple's ability to keep new projects — if not new iPhones — under wraps.

But Bajarin had signals to look for. "It'll be interesting to watch what developers do in the next three, four months [on A7-equipped iPhones and iPads] that they couldn't do before, that were earlier available only on the desktop," he said.

Moorhead cited other signs he would track, most importantly the progess Intel makes in pushing forward on its efforts to create powerful processors that require much less battery power, like Haswell.

"Intel has done nothing but accelerate," said Moorhead of those moves. "It's not letting up."

If Apple wants to differentiate its hardware from the greater volume of devices produced by Windows OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), it will want to separate itself from Intel, the supplier of most of the world's CPUs.

"Apple could take [the ARM] design up the stack as far as they possibly can," said Moorhead. "There's no reason why they couldn't push this further and further. It would give them a pretty big advantage, with one tightly-integrated team that actually builds the software and the hardware at the same time."


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