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A new iPhone processor? Here is the shortlist

More memory, 3.2 megapixel camera, perhaps an OLED screen: there are numerous and interesting hardware improvements to the iPhone that will come, but in one detail there are not even simple rumors that come from the east. According to analysts and observers, Apple's multi-touch paperbacks require a more powerful processor than the current one, capable of keeping up with the numerous competitors already on the market or about to be introduced.

iPhone Edge, iPhone 3G and iPod touch use the Samsung S3C6400 processor based on the ARM architecture, including the latest second generation iPod touch which integrates a faster version of the same component. To keep up not only with the competition but with the ever more demanding requests of the operating system, of the numerous applications available and of the users' requests, the new Apple pocket books will necessarily have to integrate a faster processor and possibly more optimized for regarding energy consumption. This idea is even a certainty for market observers and analysts as illustrated by a Forbes article a few days ago.

Starting from discussions on forums and articles on the topic for Apple, different possibilities are outlined regarding the choice of processor. Among the most plausible candidates is the OMAP 3430 CPU from Texas Instruments, the same integrated in the Palm Pre. By observing the Pre in operation, you immediately notice the speed of the system, undoubtedly possible also thanks to the optimization of the Palm webOS operating system, but with the fundamental contribution of the processor. The OMAP 3430 based on the ARM architecture, so not switching to Apple would not be too problematic.

The second candidate is the new Samsung S5PC100 processor, a better and updated version of the current iPhone and touch processor, based on the ARM Cortex A8 architecture. Although analysts and observers are fascinated by the Palm Pre processor, the new Samsung seems like the most plausible candidate. Being a direct evolution of the current processor, the transition to Apple is natural and without any headaches. The halo of mystery that surrounds this processor would seem to confirm the hypothesis. Samsung unveiled the new CPU without releasing official press releases while also keeping numerous details and specifications hidden. The only known data concern the speed of 833MHz and the possibility of playing and recording videos at 720p. All the rest shrouded in mystery or, more precisely, the traditional iron curtain already seen with the current iPhone processor, thus suggesting that Apple's will is at the origin of everything.

The third possibility circulating on the Net is represented by a new custom-built processor directly from Apple, taking advantage of the technologies and skills acquired with the purchase of PA Semi. Steve Jobs himself has publicly said that Apple's acquisition of the company aims to internally develop ad hoc processors that fully meet Apple's needs and allow it to differentiate itself from the competition. The plausible hypothesis but, even according to observers and analysts, it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to finalize a new CPU in time for the generation of iPhones and touches coming soon. This seems to be Apple's future road and which we will probably see applied in later devices.

Finally, the fourth possibility that starts from an indiscretion in circulation a few weeks ago: Apple could integrate the Marvell PXA168 processor, also based on ARM, into the new iPhone. The hypothesis, albeit plausible, seems to be less practicable today: although the architecture remains ARM, the transition to a new highly integrated processor would lead to compatibility problems with previously created software.

The fifth alternative represented by the Nvidia Tegra platform seems to be excluded by itself: the Nvidia solution based on the ARM architecture but takes advantage of the graphic acceleration made at home, and not the Imaginations solutions of which Apple has acquired shares and in which it seems particularly interested.

Ultimately, after having examined all the possible solutions, the most direct and immediate for Apple still seems to be the adoption of the new generation Samsung processor S5PC100. In addition to the painless transition for the operating system but also for the world of developers and for the immense stock of titles already available, it is necessary to keep in mind the existing relationships between Samsung and Apple. The Korean multinational has for years been a reference partner of Cupertino for the memories and then also for the iPhone / touch processor: the extension of the collaboration also for the new paperbacks arriving seems the most linear and direct choice.