Nalini Muppala

Analysis, observations, perspectives on mobile space

Apple Siri for non-phones

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By integration noise reduction technology into A5 and future processors, is Apple planning on bringing Siri to iPads and iPods?

Linley Gwennap has solved the mystery behind, so far not understood, larger than “normal” dimensions of Apple A5 chip.

(A5 measures 10.1mm x 12.1mm. A4 measures 7.3mm x 7.3mm)

Even after accounting for the dual Cortex-A9 CPUs and the large GPU that provides the A5 with industry-leading 3D graphics performance, the remaining die area seems too large for the usual mundane housekeeping logic.

The answer is A5 includes Audience Inc’s noise reduction IP. A4 included a less refined version of this voice processor technology in a separate chip. Siri is at the heart of a new interface. Noise reduction from Audience is at the heart of Siri’s roubustness.

Mr. Gwennap then goes on to ask an interesting question:

Why Apple has not simply purchased Audience is unclear. An acquisition would prevent Audience’s other major customer, Samsung, from using the technology to compete with Apple. The company may be hedging its bets, as it could switch to Qualcomm’s Fluence noise-reduction technology in the future.

Audience is planning for an IPO. I share Mr. Gwennap’s surprise at why Apple did not buy Audience. Audience lists Sony Tablet S, phones from HTC, Pantech, Samsung, Sharp among products using its technology. If Apple had bought Audience, it would have left competitors to flock to Qualcomm’s Fluence noise cancellation technology. Now Apple will continue to use the same technology available to competitors.

But Why? a) Audience did not want to sell out. b) Apple is not happy about Audience’s road map. c) As Gwennap suggests, Apple wants to see if a future version of Fluence performs better.

But they are only speculations.

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Written by Nalini Kumar Muppala

February 4, 2012 at 8:46 am

Posted in Apple, Theory

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