The speculation is over, Steve Jobs just announced the long rumored Apple tablet computer. It's the iPad, and the event is continuing as I write this. For Jobs, it's more about what it can do than how it does it, and that's usually a good thing for consumers. So the event is more about demos than hardware.
But the hardware is interesting. For starters, there's the microprocessor. It's a new one, designed internally at Apple, tagged the 1GHz Apple A4 chip.
Remember Apple's acquisition in 2008 of chip company P.A. Semi, founded by Dan Dobberpuhl, formerly of Digital Equipment Corp.? IEEE Member Dobberpuhl designed the DEC Alpha and Strong-ARM microprocessors, and received the 2003 IEEE Solid-State Circuits Award for his work. Last summer, the rumor mill speculated that Dobberpuhl was running a team of low-power experts to design a chip that would give a cell-phone higher power and longer battery life than its competitors. It looks like instead of a cell phone, Dobberpuhl has been working on the iPad project. If that's the case, given his track record, this is good news for this new product.
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Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.