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2/7/2007
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What's Inside Apple's iPhone? Three ARM Processors

The president of England's ARM Holdings confirmed that "at least three" processor cores developed at his company are inside Apple's iPhone, though Apple isn't confirming anything.

LONDON — Warren East, president and chief executive officer of ARM Holdings plc, has confirmed that "at least three" processor cores developed at his company are present within the iPhone from Apple Inc.

ARM (Cambridge, England), a developer of processor and related intellectual property, has licensed most of the world's integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) and foundries to manufacture its cores, which are often included in system-chips. The company's declared ambition is to have its intellectual property included in every digital chip manufactured.

Further to an "email to the editor" which estimated that there may be three ARM processor cores in the Apple iPhone, reports came forward that the main CPU for the iPhone is a PXA320, formerly the Monahan applications processor from Intel Corp., now supplied by Marvell Technology Group Ltd. The PXA320 is therefore a descendant of the StrongARM processor developed by Digital Equipment Corp. under an architectural license from ARM in the 1990s (see Feb. 1 story).

When asked how many ARM processor cores were in the iPhone, East said his company has a good track record of not talking about customers' products. "ARM is in 90 percent of the world's [mobile phone] handsets; we're in WiFi, baseband processors and applications processors and most of the world's MP3 players. So it's at least three," East said.

When asked to say if three was an underestimate or even a large underestimate, East said: "Apple will talk about the contents of the iPhone when Apple's ready to talk about the contents of the iPhone."

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