The Snow Leopard has landed. Mac users are well aware that the next iteration of Apple’s computer OS X has just launched, even though it hasn’t created quite the same buzz in the tech industry as previous Mac OS launches. The reason for that has to do with the fact that 10.6 is more of an enhancement of the previous version, rather than a complete overhaul.
It may not be setting the general tech industry on fire, but interestingly, there may be something here for mobile phone pundits to chew on.
Among the refinements in Snow Leopard is a little something called Grand Central Dispatch, and this geeky new feature has one expert ruminating about what it could mean for the future of the iPhone.
Here’s the gist:
Basically, GCD is a new way of coding applications so that they work across one or several processors. Since the iPhone fundamentally runs on Mac OS X, analyst Carl Howe, of Yankee Group, thinks GCD might be an indicator that multi-core processors could be (or should be?) in the iPhone’s future.
But wouldn’t it be overkill to put multiple cores in a cell phone? Well, sort of, says Howe. The iPhone already has a 600 MHz ARM Processor, which is very respectable for a mobile phone. But fast processors generally mean higher energy consumption. Now imagine that you could offer the same or better performance using multiple cores running at slower speeds. Suddenly you’d have a nimble device that doesn’t suck your power dry in a couple hours or die after a couple of years.
In a word, we’re talking batteries, people.
According to Howe: “In some cases, depending on the design and if unused cores are turned off when they aren’t being used, they can last a LOT longer, by factors of 2 to 5 times.” For the technically fluent, the analyst offers the geekspeak version on his company's blog. (Click here to go directly there.)
Battery drain has been one of the biggest complaints of iPhone users, so it’s great to see that Apple already has the technology to address this. Could it also help with the alleged built-in battery explosion problem — you know, the one the iPhone-maker is under investigation for in Europe? Well, it would be a welcome, if unintended, benefit since multiple cores don’t tend to run as hot.
I can’t believe I just wrote that phones not exploding in people’s faces would be a side benefit. Even if it was the only benefit, it should be plenty of reason to include it in the next version of the iPhone. But considering potentially faster performance, smaller heat signature, and better battery life — plus the fact that the technology’s already available to make it happen — Cupertino would be crazy not to jump on this.
C’mon Apple: Multi-cored iPhones, FTW!