Expert: iPad Wi-Fi issues may be linked to power management
Unlikely that faulty hardware causing poor wireless connections
Computerworld - The Wi-Fi reliability problems reported by iPad owners can probably be solved with a software update, a hardware expert said Friday.
"It's unlikely that hardware is the primary cause of the [problem]," said Aaron Vronko, CEO of Michigan-based Rapid Repair, a repair shop and do-it-yourself parts supplier for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. "This is probably a software problem, or a hardware quirk that software must negotiate."
Vronko said iPad owners hinted as much. "If this was hardware related, it would almost certainly have to be an error in assembly or failure in the chip itself," Vronko said in an email reply to questions. "However, chip-related failure would likely be more absolute in its effects."
Users have not said that their iPads are never able to connect to a Wi-Fi network; instead they have said the signal is weak -- and download speeds are extremely slow -- or they're unable to maintain a connection.
Complaints about the iPad's wireless reliability surfaced within hours of the iPad's March 16 sales debut.
Vronko also relied on advice given by Apple to back up his speculation. Last week, an Apple support representative told Computerworld that resetting the iPad's network settings to their factory defaults might solve the Wi-Fi problem.
"The fact that a network settings reset can sometimes resolve the issue points strongly to a power-saving feature run amok," said Vronko.
According to Vronko and several tear-down experts, the new iPad features the Broadcom BCM4330 chip, which handles Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. That chip, new to the iPad, also is inside the iPhone 4S, which launched last October.
"[The Broadcom BCM4330 chip] boasts a new design including several new power-saving features," said Vronko. "Wi-Fi can be a hungry customer in mobile devices and Apple knew that the new LCD and its requisite monster truck GPU would be guzzling battery juice. They had to go aggressive on performance per milliwatt on every other component."
For that reason, Vronko wasn't surprised to hear users gripe. "Tune a few million test subjects tightly against the performance limit and you're bound to have some problems in the field," he said.
The solution could turn on adjusting the iPad's power management software to make more battery power available to the Broadcom chip.
Apple has not publicly acknowledged a Wi-Fi issue in the new iPad, or hinted whether a fix is in the works, and if so, when it would be released.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- iPad sales skew even more toward Mini
- Apple's Mac ends up in tablet cannibal pot, too
- The case for an iPad Pro
- Is Apple's 13-in. iPad a desktop for kids?
- Balky browsers tick off tablet owners
- The PC's fate hinges on tablets, but it's 2014 or bust
- iPhone, iPad dwarf mobile rivals in small- and mid-sized firms
- iPad grabs top spot in tablet purchase poll
- Tablets remain tops in American gift-buying plans
- iOS 7 now powers 3 out of 4 Apple devices
Read more about Macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.
- Path Selection Infographic Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity...
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users? All Macintosh White Papers | Webcasts
Our new weekly Consumerization of IT newsletter covers a wide range of trends including BYOD, smartphones, tablets, MDM, cloud, social and what it all means for IT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!