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Breakfast Briefing: Apple goes cold on ARM, Intel's mystery launch, the £50 Nexus 7

Breakfast briefing

Posted on 5 Dec 2012 at 08:50

Good morning from snowy London. Today's tech round-up includes how Apple is designing its own iPhone and iPad chips, Intel's potential consumer electronics devices and Twitter's response to a security fix... you're fine if you're in the US.

Apple ditches ARM processor designs

ARM has been the darling of the chip industry in recent years, designing the chips that powered the iPhone and iPad, and lighting a rocket beneath Intel's undercarriage. But the company's fortunes have taken a dent with the news that Apple has quietly dropped ARM designs from its latest hardware.

Few appeared to notice at their launch, but Seeking Alpha reports that with the iPhone 5 and iPad 4, Apple has binned ARM-designed cores such as the Cortex A8 and A9 in favour of homemade A6 and A6X system-on-chip builds.

“The media continues to inundate the public with the notion that ARM's designs represent the ideal for devices such as smartphones and tablets and that they are 'found in the iPhone and iPad'. This is only partially true," Seeking Alpha reports.

"While Apple has an instruction set license to build chips that can understand and execute the ARM commands, Apple decided to spend a considerable amount of R&D effort to design and validate its very own ARM compatible CPU core for its mobile products, ditching ARM's own designs."

What’s Intel launching at CES?

Right at the end of this ZDNet interview with Intel's Mooly Eden, there’s an intriguing teaser for a new product the company will unveil at CES in January. The writer was asked not to reveal what kind of device, "but it's definitely innovative and is far outside the company's usual suite of offerings".

All we know is that it’s a consumer device being developed by Intel Israel, and it’s a new device for the company, so "it may not be subject to deals the company has with manufacturers that already sell Intel-powered laptops and ultrabooks". Is Intel doing a Microsoft? We’ll find out in just over a month.

The Times subsidises the Nexus 7

This is an intriguing one. To tempt more readers behind its paywall, The Times is offering a subscription deal that includes a 32GB Nexus 7 tablet for the subsidised price of £50. The offer comes to readers who take an 18-month subscription to the Digital Pack, a £4-a-week package that includes tablet, phone and web access to its newspapers.

It’s the first time we’ve seen a newspaper dive into the kind of subscription model we’re used to with phone contracts. The full cost of the contract and tablet deal is £362, reduced to £299 if you’re willing to pay in one lump sum. Compare that to the £312 total cost of the subscription alone, and the £199 price of the Nexus 7, and it looks like a tasty deal - assuming you’re an avid Times reader.

The daily McAfee update

So the metadata in yesterday’s Vice photo that John McAfee claimed wasn’t real - he’d cunningly manipulated it to make it look like he was in Guatemala, obviously - turns out to be real after all. As we all immediately suspected.

"I apologise for all of the misdirections over the past few days," begins the beardy bloke on his bonkers blog. "Vice Magazine reporters are indeed with me in Guatemala. Yesterday was chaotic due to the accidental release of my exact co-ordinates by an unseasoned technician at Vice headquarters. We made it to safety in spite of this handicap."

Phew! Now he’s meeting with Guatemalan officials and hopes to do a press conference, presumably where he reveals this whole thing to be a publicity stunt...

Dinosaur data – Dyathinkhesavedus?

As we reported yesterday, HP remains committed to its Autonomy arm, but the scale of data the company is hoping to handle using the software is worth a second look. The Register reports on how the big data under discussion could lead to the Brontobyte Era – part dinosaur, part database. While we all know about terebytes and petabytes, the oncoming big data era will see the information tidal wave pass through zettabytes and yottabytes before entering brontobyte territory.

Twitter responds to SMS spoofing hack

Security researcher Jonathan Rudenberg has revealed a vulnerability in Twitter that allowed accounts to be hacked using mobile phone details associated with the account.

"Users of Twitter that have a mobile number associated with their account and have not set a PIN code are vulnerable," Rudenberg said. "All of the Twitter SMS commands can be used by an attacker, including the ability to post tweets and modify profile info."

Twitter has since fixed the bug... although only for users in the US. "It has been misreported that US-based Twitter users are currently vulnerable to this type of attack," Twitter said in a blog post explaining how to protect accounts.

"In some countries a Twitter shortcode is not yet available. Given that it is possible to send an SMS message with a fake source address to these numbers, we have offered PIN protection to users who sign up with a longcode."

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User comments

Pterabytes

By Phoomeister on 5 Dec 2012

"Ditches ARM"??

Not quite an accurate representation. The article you link to is a share related article, on whether ARM is a good investment. The writer has a bet against the ARM share price, and is an investor in Intel.

As for the actual technology content, the A6 is just as much (and as little) an ARM design as the Qualcomm Snapdragaon. Both are ARM-compatible, own-design, under license from ARM. And that the A6 is Apple's own design is hardly news: CNET had the story in September (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57514662-37/app
les-a6-chip-development-detailed/).

By JimmyN on 5 Dec 2012

"Ditches ARM"? Poor Tech Journalism

As JimmyN as already highlighted the article is very misleading. Come on PC-PRO you can do better pushing financial propaganda. This is very poor journalism indeed.

By QuarterMaster on 5 Dec 2012

"Ditches ARM"? Poor Tech Journalism

As JimmyN as already highlighted the article is very misleading. Come on PC-PRO you can do better pushing financial propaganda. This is very poor journalism indeed.

By QuarterMaster on 5 Dec 2012

What they said!

Get a grip guys. Yet more sensationalist drivel from some partial individual who benefits when the markets move the way he wants.

ARM licences its Intellectual Property. Apple can either buy-in or self-build, but ARM still benefits. The whole tenor of this piece seems to suggest ARM is on the rocks. Au contraire.

By wittgenfrog on 5 Dec 2012

ARMed conflict unlikely

So, what - Apple are going to build their own fabrication plants and go into the chip business? Possible, but extremely unlikely. Apple are improvers, re-designers, not truly innovators. They would find Intel a much more formidable foe than most they have faced.

By Avatar on 7 Feb 2013

ARMed conflict unlikely

So, what - Apple are going to build their own fabrication plants and go into the chip business? Possible, but extremely unlikely. Apple are improvers, re-designers, not truly innovators. They would find Intel a much more formidable foe than most they have faced.

By Avatar on 7 Feb 2013

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