The iPhone probably uses ARM processors

Warren East, president and CEO of ARM, has reported that the iPhone will have at least “three” ARM processors, as published in last Wednesday’s edition of the EE Times. The ARM company (located in Cambridge, England) licenses a variety of processor designs to other companies and manufacturers.

A representative of ARM’s public relations agency in London, has indicated that the article is not very precise but not imprecise either. The report has been “based on speculation”, and ARM is considering publishing a press release to clarify the contents of the article.

Apple’s public relations agency has indicated that the few details known about the iPhone were those announced by Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the keynote held on January 9, 2007 as part of the Macworld Expo.

When the phone was announced, Steve Jobs indicated that it would run OS X with applications developed specifically for the iPhone. Apple plans to sell 10 million devices at a guide price of $ 499 for the 4GB capacity model, and $ 599 for the 8GB capacity model.

A number of analysts, including investment bank Friedman, Billings and Ramsey Group (FBR), have compiled a list of likely manufacturers who are contributing to the iPhone.

One day after Jobs’ announcement, FBR stated that Samsung Electronics could be the provider of the video / application processor. Samsung licenses a wide variety of processor technology to ARM.

Didier Scemama, a semiconductor analyst for ABN AMRO Bank in London, assumes that ARM’s cores would be in three processors: Samsung’s processor, a Marvel Technology Group Wi-Fi chip, and Infineon Technologies’ CPRS / EDGE chip. Scemama does not provide information on how it reached these conclusions.

According to Scemama, the use of three cores does not mean much for ARM, whose technology is already being used in other mobile devices created by other manufacturers such as Nokia. Other analysts agree with Scemama’s statement.

Roger Kay, president of the analyst firm Endpoint Technologies Associates, says that “if ARM cores are common in phones and other small devices, why couldn’t they also be found in the iPhone?”

So why can silicon casings matter so much to people? For enthusiasts, the data fuels speculation about the performance they can expect from the iPhone before it makes its appearance in stores next June.

An ARM-based processor would mean that OS X would have been ported to a new platform. The OS currently runs on IBM PowerPC and Intel x86 processors.

For others, it means the satisfaction of breaking through the wall of secrecy built by Apple around its products months before the inside of the first product is physically accessible.