Another “NeXT” or coprocessor for fitness (Apple M7)

Inside the iPhone 5s, iPad mini 2 and iPad Air, Apple A7 in the user name and beauty had worked a dozen of the chips for different purposes from different manufacturers, but only one of them, the motion co-processor from NXP, have received the presentation Phil Schiller and got “Apple” alias… the Apple M7 NXP Semiconductors was founded in 1953, until 2006, was part of Philips called Philips Semiconductors. In 2006, gained independence and changed its name to NXP (Next eXPerience). Because of what I allowed myself to mention the title of “NeXT”. The headquarters of the company is conveniently located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands – but factories, offices and the centre for research and development NXP scattered around the world.

At the time, the company has absorbed several good friends, Apple (in June 1999, VLSI Technology, 2015 – Freescale Semiconductor). The world’s fifth largest manufacturer and developer of semiconductors.

Motion coprocessor known as the Apple M7, which Apple has assigned the code name “Oscar” actually was developed by NXP Semiconductors, called the NXP LPC18A1. What does Apple, and why is it called the Apple M7?

This continuation of the series Pro processors from Apple. Previous parts:

The first part: In the shadow of the Apple A4;
Second part: the birth of the “Apple” of the processor;
Part three: Returning to the beginning of beginnings: Apple A6/A6X (Swift);
The fourth part: the Cyclone comes to replace the Swift (Apple A7).


In public directories NXP Semiconductors microcontroller based on the ARM Cortex-M3 index LPC18A1 was absent. These products belonged to the LPC1800 series, but more precise information about LPC18A1 free was not.

In “Apple”, the media speculated that “A1” on the visible surface of a tiny chip – it “Apple A1”. Guessed wrong: the next version publicly known as the Apple M8, was LPC18B1, but this error has led to entirely correct conclusions: the chip was designed by Apple for Apple. And this was only the beginning of a long and profitable friendship.

Apple M7:

The chip is produced on 90 nm technology, but microcontrollers based on the ARM Cortex-M3 in the industry was on a very good bill.

Why you need a Apple M7

For the functions which the Apple M7 took over, before he answered blocks within systems-on-chip. Compass, gyroscope and accelerometer become part of your company’s mobile devices for a long time, they were widely used and had good appetite.

In the cases where there was a need to contact one of them, and the device was in sleep state, you have to turn on the entire system-on-chip. It took a while (though not too long), and energy consumption.
The ability to monitor changes in the position of the customer in space was a valuable property, but she tried not to abuse, and a host of brilliant ideas about how you would dispose of this wealth had to be postponed until better times.

The imposition of spyware ensemble outside the system-on-chip has opened the way for their implementation. Now, to respond to a change in the position of the client in space, to Wake the system-on-chip is not required, tiny chip (consumes order of magnitude less energy) was constantly in a state of readiness, and system-on-chip was able to get some sleep. The microcontroller did all the work: collected and processed the data received from sensors, and even kept it to report CPU.

In addition, Apple has already begun development of a very promising product, for which these capabilities have been vital. Now they could work to Shine, to be tested in real life situations and to bring to perfection.

Phil Schiller called the two applications for this chip: fitness and health, but they were not the only one. Almost more important work was waiting for this chip in the navigation pane. The chip allows you to guess how it is moving the owner of the device (by foot, car or public transport, running, flying on a plane) – I feel many very interesting applications almost begs?

Core Motion

Now that the device could follow the owner around the clock, almost without battery charge, you can access the superpowers that independent programmers.

In the API (the interfaces of the programmer of applications) introduces a new framework – Core Motion. As you know, limits the people’s creativity there. Especially if the restrictions are removed.

The only downside of the new framework was its limited compatibility with devices in which the motion coprocessor was not. This is a natural disadvantage, sooner or later even the most favorite user of the mobile device is becoming obsolete, and the user has to choose.

The first opportunity of the new chip and the new framework used by the developers of mobile applications company Nike, releasing a Nike+ Move uses technology to, basically, the same fitness. The application was integrated with Game Center, turned useful (like, there are different opinions) to health sports and exciting game.

Another interesting use of the motion coprocessor system Indoor Navigation. In many places of our planet it’s hard not to get lost, but conventional navigation systems do not work. These shopping centres, airports, large train stations, business centers.

The navigation system, for security reasons, artificially turned off. Not for people to stress about trying to find the terminal number X or exit from the protected area. The problem is solved: the owner of this facility is its detailed plan (excluding from public access areas that no one should know), and binds it to the analog Core Motion for a particular platform.

To be continued

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