Apple’s More than a Little More
Paul Boldt posted on October 24, 2012 | | 1920 views
 Well that was fun.  The rumors ahead of yesterday's Apple event suggested just about everything Mac was going to be updated, in addition to the launch of the iPad mini.  I thought they were too ambitious.  But, now it is in our collective rear view mirror and the scope of the announcements did not disappoint.  Beyond the iPad mini, the iMac, 13” MBP and iPad were not simply processor speed bumps or increases in memory capacity, but wholesale changes of the internal and/or external design.  There will be plenty of places that will detail the specifications, but I want to touch on  four bits that caught my attention.

Early in the iMac section of the Keynote it was announced the iMac’s thinner design was made possible through the use of friction stir welding for aluminum.  While it might have sounded new there is in fact a long list of issued patents associated with it.  This one, for example, provides a bit of background to the process. 

Also associated with the iMac was the so-called “Fusion Drive”.  The concept of a hybrid SSD and HDD is not new.  The concept seems quite good with the access time acceleration of flash and bulk file storage in the HDD.  Time will tell whether Apple is using off-the shelf components or if they have a more customized approach.   I suspect though that such a system really depends on the controlling software, as it is up to the software to determine what files are kept on each drive. 

The last two bits were related to iPad 4 and the iPad mini.  Along with iPad 4 came the A6X.  As usual not much detail here other than  it giving 2X performance on the CPU and GPU front as compared to the A5X.  It will likely have plenty in common with the A6.  However, I think the most interesting thing will be how it differs, including what the die size comes out at.  Here we can look to the A5X for inspiration. 

Finally, the iPad mini sports a `Dual Core A5`.  The naming is likely a throwback to the “Single Core A5” that now powers the Apple TV.  As discussed earlier, I think this is more marketing than design.  With these processor announcements we got new data points indicating a split in Apple’s processor efforts.  The A# processors seem destined for smaller display idevices while the A#X processors are solely being used for the 10” iPads.  One last thing to indirectly come out of all the announcements is the somewhat stunted life of the A5X.