Apple’s Latest Chip Reveals Its Secrets Under Magnification


Leading-up to Apple’s announcement of the 2012 iPad, there was plenty of speculation flying around about just what processor might find itself at the heart of the tablet. Coming off the dual-core A5, there were rumors galore that Apple’s next system-on-a-chip would be something like a quad-core A6. Instead, we ended up with the tweaked A5X dual-core component. Today we take a look at some very close-up analysis of one of Apple’s latest chips, and hopefully it can give us some insight into what directions Apple may be headed in for the next iPhone’s processor.

What you’re looking at above is the A5 as found in the new Apple TV. Apple calls this a component a single-core version of the A5, but microphotography reveals the presence of two complete cores, with one apparently disabled. That’s an interesting find, but it doesn’t really speak much to future Apple chips. What’s much more revealing is the discovery that this A5 appears to manufactured on a 32-nanometer Samsung process, rather than the 45-nanometer used for the normal dual-core A5 and A5X.

The theory goes that Apple’s been testing the reliability of this process by making these single-core A5s with a hidden, disabled core. That way if something goes wrong with one core or the other during manufacturing, Apple can switch it off and still end up with a usable component. What happens when both cores work as planned? This same A5 chip, except with both cores enabled, is used in the latest iPad 2 models to enter production.

Assuming things have been going well, we’d be likely to see 32nm chips in a lot of upcoming Apple gear. With any luck, the new, smaller dies will lead to decreased power consumption.

Source: Chipworks

Via: MobileSyrup

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!