The iPad 3 And iPhone 5 May Feature Secret “Macroscalar” Architecture. Here’s What It Means.



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.

[PatentlyApple via RazorianFly]

  • FriarNurgle

    So it has more Gees? 

    just kidding, nice write up. 

  • Fernando Teixeira

    when I think Apple is preparing a better battery and a greater processor they’re doing something more awesome that I could ever imagine

  • Jordan Clay

    Wouldn’t the technology need an A6 processor AND the programs to be updated to run the  code (iOS6 maybe)?   Kinda like how the programs now have to written with a “pause” function to enable the “multi-tasking”

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    I do know that it’s a good thing that Apple has near total control over all its products from top to bottom.  Apple can’t blame anyone else if something goes wrong.  I’m certain that enterprise businesses will be able to see the advantage Apple has over other mobile platforms.  With Halliburton giving up on RIM and going strictly to the iPhone it seems like there’s more good things to come.  Apple is continually driving a wedge into corporations from the top executives to the lower employees leaving IT being forced to concede to Apple devices from both sides.  I can hardly wait to see this quad-core A6 in action and it should provide quite a leap of processing power over the A5.  I’d still be happy to see even the A5 used in the iPod Touch which hasn’t had a processor upgrade in what seems about almost two years.  Imagine if Apple moved the iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone and AppleTV over to the A6.  That would be enormous economies of scale that no competitor would be able to match.  Apple is clearly building a nearly unbeatable mobile ecosystem.

  • DavidP

    now we can do less work much faster!

  • iT_MikeGrand

    I’m thinking that “Macroscalar” could be related to the Apple TV, seeing as they could use the extra space of the TV screen to produce a larger chip

    Or just relating to a singular screen, where the “Macro” means big screen (could be a 27 or higher inch) and a “scalar” meaning unibody structure (where there is no bezel to the TV and is just fused with the back of the screen

  • Joana Pimenta


    Amazing way of learning from our leader!! :-)

  • aardman

    “Macro: of great size; Large in scope or extent; large scale.”

    But then when I need to get an extreme closeup photo of a tiny subject I go and grab a macro lens.

    No wonder the English language drives farners nuts.

    Snarkiness aside, this is the type of refinement and fine-tuning that puts integrated (i.e. software-hardware) manufacturers at a great advantage over the pure software and pure hardware companies. And this is why I continue to believe that eventually, Android will fall by the wayside. It might still be theoretically possible for Google to do the same type of fine-tuning on Android and have it remain a one-size-fits-all OS but at what cost and at what pace?

  • Buster

    Macro lens: you’re making a small object seems big, or large. The name is fitting.

  • James Klootwyk

    I saw the words “Mac” and “Roscalar” at first >.<

  • Shameer Mulji

    Of course software would have to be recompiled or redeveloped to take advantage of the A6 processor but that will come.  With quad-core processors, “Retina” displays, and minimum 1GB of RAM, I hope these devices have a support cycle of greater than 2 years (hopefully at least 4 years).  It gets expensive replacing these devices every two years.  

  • aardman

    Nice try but, nah.  The definition provided talked of ‘large scale’ –so something inherently large. You’re referring to something small that has been magnified.

    Then again, how come replacing ‘shameful’ with ‘shameless’ in a sentence doesn’t change its meaning?  E.g.  That’s a shameful act.

  • Buster

    Macrophotography is close-up photography, usually of very small subjects. Classically a macrophotograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative is GREATER THAN LIFE SIZE (ie big). However in modern use it refers to a finished photograph of a subject at GREATER THAN LIFE SIZE (ie large).[1] ….a macro lens is classically one lens capable of reproduction ratios GREATER than 1:1, although it now refers to any lens with a LARGE reproduction ratio.
    via Wikipedia

  • ConceptVBS

    Little BIG processor.

    Nothing new. 

  • mattlongman

    I think you mean iPhone 6. In fact, I’m sure you do.

    We’re currently enjoying the 5th iPhone, so why would Apple call  the 6th iPhone, the ‘iPhone 5’?

  • sn0wball

    i believe they will. it makes more sense to me anyway

  • Aaron Scholl

    iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S. I know that makes the one I’m enjoying now the 5th rev. of the iPhone, so you think they’ll just jump straight to calling this the iPhone 6, bucking traditions? Get a life man, and stop picking on people.

  • guitarist4life

    And another hype-article that has about a 2% chance of actually being true.

  • freighttrain2126

    i know, it would be like calling the 5th gen. a 4s.

  • CAJeepBoy

    …MacBook Pro.