LONDON – The A6 processor inside Apple's iPhone 5 mobile phone is a dual-core Cortex-A15 manufactured for Apple by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in its 32-nm HKMG manufacturing process, according to analysts at Nomura Equity Research.
This would mean Apple is one of the first companies to introduce a Cortex-A15-based processor. Cortex-A15 is the highest performance processor core from intellectual property licensor ARM Holdings plc (Cambridge, England).
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Samsung said it had started sampling the industry's first dual-core ARM Cortex-A15 processor late in 2011, the Exynos 5250, made with its 32-nm HKMG process and intended for volume shipment in summer 2012. The Exynos 5250 includes Mali graphics, and is intended for use in high-end tablet computers. Its 2-GHz clock frequency is claimed to double the performance of the previous 1.5-GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 based Exynos.
Apple provided few details when it launched the iPhone 5 on Wednesday (Sept. 12) about the smartphone's application processor and graphics capability. The company did say the A6 processor provided twice the CPU performance and twice the graphics performance of the A5x used in the iPhone 4S.
Nomura provided no source for its report nor a clock frequency for the processor. Typically, mobile phone application processors run with clock signals of up to 1.5 GHz. However, designing in the Cortex-A15 could help explain how Apple has achieved performance equivalentto the iPhone 4S
Apple is expected to retain graphics IP licensor Imagination Technologies Group for the graphics rendering portion of the chip. The Apple A5 processor is reported to use the dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2, so the A6 could use the quad-core version, the PowerVR SGX543MP4.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) was reportedly working on a version of the A6 processor for Apple in 2011. It was rumored then to be a quad-core design for implementation in 28-nm manufacturing process and was expected to debut in the third-generation iPad.
If Samsung is the sole supplier of the A6 processor – as indicated by Nomura analysts – this squares with recent predictions that TSMC is working on pulling in its 20-nm process and working to supply Apple in the second-half of 2013 using that process.
Apple has hundreds of billion dollars in retained earnings, and a multi-billion dollar annual revenue stream. The company took in $46 billion in Q4 2011. Tim Cook is doing a great job as CEO, and new products keep coming.
I suspect Apple has thought of the vulnerability to Samsung, and has a second source for the Cortex-based A6.
Jobs was smart and visionary, but there are plenty of people with those characteristics still at Apple.
So no, I don't think Apple is going under anytime soon.
Samsung is a multinational gaint with deep pockets and smart people, so I think they'll find a way to produce the Galaxy 3.
So your choice should be more about the user experience you want. I'd go to a store and try out both phones, or check out friends' phones.
I don't know whether to get an Apple iPhone5 or a Samsung Galaxy3 ? Apple could go under without Steve Jobs and the patent infringement lawsuit Apple won against Samsung could be a desperate attempt to survive, won't Samsung just charge whatever they need for the A6 to recoupe the Apple win ? Or make the A6 "short of supply" to Apple , I might not want to be on the wait list for the iphone 5 in that case... Apple and Samsung don't seem to be playing well together... or maybe that's just how they play... but currently... it sounds like there is no iPhone 5 with out Samsung A6, and there is no Samsung galaxy3 if Apple shuts down their production through litigation...
Well in my opinion it is too early to see an A15-based SoC powering such an important and high volume product as the iPhone.
The 2x claim by Apple is quite unsubstantial and not based on a specific metric (e.g. a benchmark). Therefore compared to the A5 processor in iPhone 4S, my best guesses are that this "2x claim" could come from the following:
- using 32nm process instead of 45nm could lead to an increase from 1GHz dual A9 to 1.5 GHz (maybe more?) again dual A9
- certain tweaks here and there
- beefier memory subsystem (maybe another memory controller or higher frequency DRAM?)
- beefier graphics
- software improvements.
And dont forget there is the chance to upgrade with a couple of Cortex-A7 cores tucked in to a corner of a dual-core Cortex-A15 processor design.
That would create a quad-core processor that implements the "big-little" power-saving technique.
Such chips are expected to arrive and be powering smartphones in 2013 as I remember Warren East saying at the launch of Cortex-A7 in 2011.
This should be an interesting mix of processing power vs battery life. If the performance has been jacked up to 2x as they claim then assuming it consumes the same power as it's predecessor it should still result in longer battery life and faster response times.
So I guess the quad core version of it will go into next Ipad.