Apple’s 64-Bit A7 Caught Entire Semiconductor Industry With Its Pants Down

apple_a7_chip

After Apple released the iPhone 5s with the A7, the world’s first 64-bit chip, ARM competitor Qualcomm made quite the fool of themselves about it. First, Qualcomm representative Anand Chandrasekher called a 64-bit ARM chip a “gimmick.” Then they ate their words, soft fired Chandrasekher, and announced their own 64-bit chip to ship in 2014.

If that seems like a disorganized, chaotic response, you’re right. But there’s a reason for that. According to a new report, Apple’s unveiling of the 64-bit A7 chip took the entire semiconductor industry with their pants down… and everyone’s now scrambling to catch up.

According to a new report from Dan Lyons (yes, of Fake Steve Jobs fame) over at HubSpot, a Qualcomm insider has told them that when the A7 chip first came out, it “hit us in the gut.’

“Not just us, but everyone, really. We were slack-jawed, and stunned, and unprepared. It’s not that big a performance difference right now, since most current software won’t benefit. But in Spinal Tap terms it’s like, 32 more, and now everyone wants it,” the employee said.

This is why guys like Chandrasekher immediately started mouthing off about 64-bit being a gimmick. From a certain perspective, he’s right: most apps can’t take advantage of 64-bit right now. But someday, most apps will benefit, which means that Chandrasekher’s thoughtless comments were selling out Qualcomm’s future products, which is why he ended up getting in so much trouble for the remark.

“The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple’s, since no one thought it was that essential. The evolution was going to be steady. Sure, it’s neat, it’s the future, but it’s not really essential for conditions now,” the insider continued.

So Qualcomm had to scrambled to catch up. But roadmaps aren’t easy things to alter: look at Intel, which plans its chip roadmaps years in advance. They are battleships, not speedboats. From that perspective, it’s a miracle that Qualcomm’s first 64-bit chip will “only” be a year late to market compared to the A7. Cold comfort for Qualcomm, that.

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  • Adrayven

    Did I just hear Jobs maniacal laughter from the grave?

  • iSteve

    Apple set the lead, others follow….

  • kavok

    You left out the best part of the quote about how “Apple kicked everyone in the balls…” with this.

  • joetavormina

    If apple buys the A7 chip from Samsung, How is it possible that Samsung semiconductor was caught with their pants down In order for Samsung to be able to manufacture the chip for Apple, Samsung would have to know that the chip is 64 bit. Samsung would have to have done performance testing before they released the chip to Apple. Maybe Qualcomm was caught with their pants down, but lets not be naive and say the whole industry. Apple buys the cpu, screens and other components from Samsung.

  • ElVox

    “the world’s first 64-bit chip,”?? Yeah…not by a long shot. I believe you ate the word “mobile” somewhere in there, because we’ve had lots and lots and lots of 64bit processors for a long while.

  • Gregory Wright

    @joetavorimina

    The faithful doesn’t care about those little details. It defeats the notion that Apple is king.

  • lowtolerance

    If apple buys the A7 chip from Samsung, How is it possible that Samsung semiconductor was caught with their pants down In order for Samsung to be able to manufacture the chip for Apple, Samsung would have to know that the chip is 64 bit. Samsung would have to have done performance testing before they released the chip to Apple. Maybe Qualcomm was caught with their pants down, but lets not be naive and say the whole industry. Apple buys the cpu, screens and other components from Samsung.

    Designing the chip itself is the bulk of the effort here. Knowing that Apple has a complete 64-bit chip design doesn’t give them a leg up on that, especially when Apple probably bought out Samsung’s entire 64-bit production capability for some time to come.

  • saiyan

    If apple buys the A7 chip from Samsung, How is it possible that Samsung semiconductor was caught with their pants down….. . Apple buys the cpu, screens and other components from Samsung.

    [sarcasm]
    Oh yeah. I agree with you.
    How dare companies such as AMD and Nvidia claim they are pioneers in graphic processor industry when all they do is purchasing graphic processors from semiconductor foundry such as TSMC!!
    [/sarcasm]

  • joetavormina
    If apple buys the A7 chip from Samsung, How is it possible that Samsung semiconductor was caught with their pants down….. . Apple buys the cpu, screens and other components from Samsung.

    [sarcasm]
    Oh yeah. I agree with you.
    How dare companies such as AMD and Nvidia claim they are pioneers in graphic processor industry when all they do is purchasing graphic processors from semiconductor foundry such as TSMC!!
    [/sarcasm]

    So basically you are buying a Samsung phone designed by Apple[sarcasm].
    Wake up, Samsung and Apple only care about how much money they can take from the consumer.The Samsung Apple rivalry is just a marketing ploy.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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