With the arrival of the App Store, Apple has been marketing the latest iPod Touch as a gaming device in its most recent round of commercials, almost completely ignoring the fact that it’s a music and video player as well. Apple appears to have upped the processing speed of the iPod Touch in order to help it go after the portable-game market. The difference is, is that the second generation iPod Touch’s processor speed was boosted to 532MHz, while the iPhone 3G, iPhone 2G and first generation iPod Touch continue to run at the original 412MHz. Application designers have to carefully plan for this discrepancy, limiting the amount of polygons and detail that is displayed to ensure compatibility between the devices.
The Samsung chipset at the heart of the iPhone utilizes a 32-bit RISC ARM processing core, the ARM1176JZ(F)-S v1.0. The ARM device is capable of running at 620MHz, but Apple has underclocked it in the interest of extending battery life. Plus, when you have WiFi, Bluetooth, Quad-band edge and Tri-band 3G all packed together, they have to be finely tuned. Just changing the clock speed could be enough to ruin many things beyond battery life. It’s no stretch to say the changes in heat, radiation, etc. associated with a faster clock speed could potentially cause problems. However, earlier updates have already increased the original iPhones processing speed by several megahertz.
The Samsung SoC features an implementation of Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR MBX Lite 3D accelerator, likely running at the iPhone’s bus speed of 103MHz. This fourth-generation PowerVR chipset is basically an evolution of the second-generation graphics hardware used in the Sega and which, like its console predecessor, utilizes a unique tile-based rendering system.
Since the clock speed of the devices is hidden in the software that is used to update them, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a talented person could reverse-engineer it in order to increase the clock speed. Testing should be conducted to see if a higher clock speed could safely improve the performance of the devices.