Source: Thunderbolt vs. SuperSpeed USB
With the launch of the fifth generation iPhone delayed to fall this year, there have been some speculations that this could give Apple enough time to add support for 4G LTE networks.
However, there are various reasons that Apple is unlikely to launch a 4G LTE iPhone this fall and iSuppli, electronics market research firmÂ believes that cost could be one of the reasons.
Back in April, Appleâ€™s Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook had stated that the first generation of LTE chipsets force a lot of design compromises with the handset, and some of those we are just not willing to make.
At that time, Will Strauss, President of wireless chip tracker Forward Concepts pointed out that Apple was looking for a solution where chips support 4G and 3G on a single chip so that the 4G LTE iPhone is as thin or thinner than iPhone 4 and it doesnâ€™t consume too much battery life.
According to Strauss, chipmakers like Qualcomm, ST Ericcson and Intel are expected to launch the next generation chips that support 4G and 3G on a single chip only towards the end of this year or early next year, which would meet Appleâ€™s requirement.
Folks at iSuppli have published a report, which concludes that a 4G LTE iPhone would be significantly more expensive to make than the current iPhone 4 model. For example, HTC added $39.75 to the cost of the ThunderBolt smartphone by going LTE.
“It remains to be seen whether the next Apple iPhone set for introduction in September will support 4G LTE,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for IHS. “However, if it does, two things are clear. First, the iPhone’s minuscule printed circuit board (PCB) will have to grow in size in order to support the first-generation LTE baseband processor as well as all the supporting chipset. Second, the next iPhone’s BOM value certainly will increase substantially compared to the iPhone 4 if LTE is implemented in the same manner as in the HTC Thunderbolt.”
According to iSuppli, the BOM (bill of material) of a CDMA iPhone would rise to $211.10, a jump of 23.2% if Apple used the same components as HTC. iSuppli goes on to add:
The SnapDragon MSM8960, is a successor to the MSM8655 used in the ThunderBolt that combines LTE, EVDO and HSPA into a single chip. This new device not only eliminates the multiple baseband chipset approach employed by theThunderBolt, but also would reduce the size and cost of making an LTE-enabled iPhone 5 compared to the ThunderBolt.
The other issue is that the implementation of 4G LTE networks has not yet matured. AT&T and Verizon are expected to complete the rollout of their 4G LTE network nationwide only by 2013.
So all these reasons indicate that it is very unlikely that Apple will launch a 4G LTE in 2012.
Will you buy or upgrade to iPhone 5 if it doesnâ€™t support 4G LTE networks or will you buy a 4G smartphone like HTC ThundeBolt if 4G network is available in your area? Let us know in the comments.
This morning’s upgrades to Apple’s iMac line of computers brought a range of nice features. But most were just spec bumps. The big new addition is Thunderbolt. Following the initial roll-out to the MacBook Pros, the new super high-speed ports are clearly destined to be a key component across Apple’s product lines. But what about Apple’s two key newer products: the iPhone and iPad? Apple hasn’t said a word yet about what Thunderbolt means for them.
During a call with Apple this morning, I specifically asked about when we might see Thunderbolt-enabled adapters for iPhone/iPad. Apple would only say that they had nothing to share at this time. That’s usually code for “it’s coming, but just not yet.” And that makes sense. Why pour all this money into a new technology if you’re not going to use it in places where it makes the most sense? But it’s also not that simple.
When I asked what devices were coming that would take advantage of Thunderbolt, I was pointed to this site which features some pre-announced third-party devices at the bottom of the page. These include external hard drives, video capture devices, and adapters (to convert Thunderbolt pipes to carry FireWire data, etc). Apple said they expect to see the first such devices at some point this spring. In other words, soon.
But again, none of those listed are Apple devices. Why haven’t we heard anything about those yet? Could it be because Apple is planning to replace all computer-based syncing with syncing in the cloud when Castle/iCloud is unveiled later this year?
I wouldn’t hold my breath.
My hunch is that we will hear something from Apple later this year about Thunderbolt use with iPads/iPhones. Perhaps during the iPhone 5 unveiling in the fall. Now that the technology is out there on two of their most popular devices (MacBook Pros and iMacs) and probably pretty soon on another one (MacBook Airs), Apple will have to address this. And the reality is that Thunderbolt seems to be a more viable and smart near-term solution for device sync rather than a full-on cloud sync.
A few weeks ago, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber made the case for why Apple is taking their time with regard to cloud-based syncing in the “post-PC” world. While Apple does already sync small amounts of data like calendars and email (via MobileMe) and e-books (via iBooks) in the cloud, the big chunks of data (music, movies, etc) still require a computer for syncing. The main issue is simply speed. Wireless networks are not nearly fast enough to transfer gigabytes of data up and downstream in a reasonable amount of time. And this will not change anytime soon. Not even with 4G/LTE network speeds.
Media streaming (either over the cloud or via WiFi) is one potential solution. But it’s not a full solution. Apple is also going to want to have a solution for people who want to have this media actually present on their devices (for trips and such). That means sync. And the cloud is just not ready for that yet.
One big problem that users have with the iTunes-based syncing mechanism for iPhones/iPads today is that it’s slow. Apple has done a lot of work to speed this up over the years (remember when backups would take something like 30 minutes to an hour!?), but it’s still not ideal. Thunderbolt could do a lot to alleviate this pain point.
Right now, iPhone/iPad syncing is done via USB 2.0. These ports theoretically transfer data at 480 Mbps (but it’s usually less in practice). Thunderbolt will up that speed to 10 Gbps spread over two channels. In other words, a 10-minute sync could be cut to a matter of seconds.
I suspect we may hear Apple talking about syncing in seconds versus syncing in hours at future product unveilings to explain why they’re going with Thunderbolt instead of the cloud.
But not so fast. The reason we’re not seeing this Thunderbolt utilization already is because the existing hardware isn’t ready for it yet. Apple is getting the computers (the syncing hubs) up to speed as we speak. But the iPhones/iPads are still stuck in the slow lane. Unless Apple has a conversion trick up their sleeve, we might have to wait for the iPhone 5/iPad 3 until we can truly see the upside of Thunderbolt. Apple has already been awarded the patent they need to turn the 30-pin connectors found on iOS devices into Thunderbolt-ready ports, but unless they slipped it past the goalie with the iPad 2, they’re not out there yet.
This also means there’s going to be a transition. Early adopters of the iPhone 5 and iPad 3 (assuming they have Thunderbolt-compatible ports) will be ready, but older devices won’t be. But hey, that will be another reason for Apple to get you to upgrade. New feature: insanely great syncing speed.
Long story short, I’d bet on a big Thunderbolt strike before a full-on ascension by Apple into the cloud for syncing. Google, I suspect, may continue to go the other way. And the two sides will have a new talking point for their war: sync speed versus sync anywhere.
Apple Releases Updated iMacs With Faster Quad-Core Processors, Graphics, Thunderbolt I/O Ports, FaceTime HD Camera
Earlier today Apple released updated iMacs with quad-core Intel Core i5 processors with an option to upgrade to Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz, new powerful AMD Radeon HD graphics processors, high-speed Thunderbolt I/O port/ports and an HD camera for FaceTime.
Apple claims that the new iMac is up to 70 percent faster and new graphics deliver up to three times the performance of the previous generation.Â
Apple had this to say about the new iMacs:
The new iMac features quad-core Intel Core i5 processors with an option for customers to choose Core i7 processors up to 3.4 GHz. These next generation processors feature an integrated memory controller for an amazingly responsive experience and a powerful new media engine for high-performance video encoding and decoding. With new AMD Radeon HD graphics processors, the new iMac has the most powerful graphics ever in an all-in-one desktop.
iMac is the first desktop computer on the market to include groundbreaking Thunderbolt I/O technology. The 21.5-inch iMac has a single Thunderbolt port while the 27-inch model features two ports for even greater expansion. Developed by Intel with collaboration from Apple, Thunderbolt enables expandability never before possible on an all-in-one computer. Featuring two bi-directional channels with transfer speeds up to an amazing 10Gbps each, Thunderbolt delivers PCI Express directly to external high performance peripherals such as RAID arrays, and can support FireWireÂ® and USB consumer devices, and Gigabit Ethernet networks via adapters. Thunderbolt also supports DisplayPort for high resolution displays and works with existing adapters for HDMI, DVI and VGA displays. Freely available for implementation on systems, cables and devices, Thunderbolt technology is expected to be widely adopted as a new standard for high performance I/O.
What do you think about the new iMacs? Are you planning to buy one?
[via Apple PR]