Revealing some clues about the new hardware of the iPad 3 and iPhone 5, last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published an interesting trademark application from Apple for the word “Macroscalar” which many believe refers to Apple’s next generation A6 system-on-a-chip. Allowing a trademark to be revealed before its use is a move we’re not use to seeing from Apple. What the heck does a “Macroscalar” Processor do and how is it going to make your iPad 3 super insanely amazing?
First let us break down “Macroscalar” by defining its two parts, Macro, and Scalar.
Macro: of great size; Large in scope or extent; large scale. Macroeconomics are the big picture of how the economy works.
Scalar: a single number, numerical quantity, or element in a field.
Currently, rising clock frequencies of processors aren’t translating into higher performance because most consumer software isn’t optimized to use the technology. Macroscalar processors aim to put an end to that problem by generating contingent secondary instructions at compile-time, so when a data-dependent loop completes the next set of instructions are ready to execute. Essentially, a “Macroscalar” processor would make sure the pipeline of work it has to do always stays full regardless of whether a loop continues or completes so that efficiency is increased.
Another neat trick a “Macroscalar” processor can do is load a set of sequential instructions that run between loops or even within a loop, so that execution is sped up. Because it’s a “macro” scalar processor, Apple’s A6 processor would be able to perform these actions at a large scale. Rather than maintaining one pipeline at a time, the “Macroscalar” processor’s architecture will be able to maintain parallel pipelines by loading them and then switching between them to maximize loop performance of programs.
By controlling both its own compilers (software stuff) along with designing the CPUs (the guts inside your iPhone), Apple is in an amazing position to offer a complete “Macroscalar” experience that isn’t dependent upon third-parties adapting to the new hardware. Basically, your next iPad and iPhone will be able to play Temple Run super-duper fast without that occasional lag you experience loading it up and switching back to other apps and all that junk. Plus, “Marcroscalar” processors won’t drain your batteries as much because they need less power for their awesomesauce. It’s a win-win across the board if Apple can get this technology implemented for the A6 processor.
Apple currently owns four patents related to the technology, and some Apple bloggers think that the technology may be ready to hit the big time by appearing in the iPad 3 and then the iPhone 5, but we’ll probably have to wait till March to see if the face-melting power of “Macroscalar” processors are unleashed with the iPad 3.