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.