As one of the authors I just want to re-iterate that the article was not sponsored by Apple.
To go back a bit, both the A4 and A5 articles were inspired by Apple's big push into semi. design. This has the possibility to alter landscape.
Since the initial de-capping of the A5 there has been lots of discussion about its die size and if they could have done better. So we were curious and took a look.
Thanks for all of the positive comments.
ArekZ, I would like to make it crystacl clear that this article was NOT sponsored by Apple. I am the editor in chief of EE Times, and I know that it is not the case.
That said, the reason why we are running this article is because Apple has kept mum on their SoC strategy.
They have said very little about what's inside their A4 or A5 processors. The two engineers who contributed this article have done a great job in making "educated guesses" on what Apple might have done to A5, unlocking a few mysteries.
The article also gives us a glimpse of what might be Apple's future SoC strategy.
I wonder if this article is sponsored by Apple. A5 seems to be glorified a lot here but I cannot see anything special in it, except it coming from Apple. Like many other ARM customers, Apple put together a few IP cores in an SoC and the chip does what they wanted, like for other customers.
This article compares A5 only to A4 hence does not really show to the readers the position of A5 in the global market.
Good article. Apple is really doing something differently. If the special logic blocks are really something that helps performance in whatever sense, I believe Apple will still lead the market and will lead for long time. Google seems haven't started such a hardware+software integration so it may not be able to catch up. Very anxious to see what the situation can be after 2 years.
If rumors serve...then after the A5 is ported to the TSMC CLN28HPL process the final die size will be closer to the A4. Then, a further tweak to the CLN28HPM process early in 2012 would presumably provide another performance boost without a re-design. If this plays out (seems like an obvious move, really) then the A5 will be the "low power, high performance multicore SOC at 28 nm" that will remain highly competitive for the next few years. Apple can put more resources into software, and clouds, and brick'n'mortar...and just use Samsung as a 2nd-source for Flash memory.
Very interesting article, with some well thought-out speculations. In the end, the authors leave 34 mm2 of die area as a mystery. In 45 nm, this represents an enormous amount of logic. Is it possible there are IP blocks in there -- Apple's own, or licensed -- that have not yet been exploited by existing Apple products?
It was a relatively short time, basically a year, between A4 and A5 production readiness. I have a feeling the A5 has much longer legs than the A4 did, and we will not see an A6 next year...but probably in 2013.
For Microsoft, Intel, Nokia, Motorola and even Dell and TI it is probably too late. May be even for Google. Nokia should have done it with Symbian, Intel even both an OS,but they all have too much to loose from such a jump in efficiency. only Apple runs a business model that allows it to benefit from what benefit its customers (single source, integration, efficiency). It was a multibillion dollars decision that other with even more money should have made but only apple did. And it is only a question of time until they move to Intels and TI's territory with semiconductor technology they are investing in. Teh already taking a significant share limiting growth of those companies. The article closing words say it all: "Apple likely plans to venture further down the road of custom circuit design. Going beyond the need to remain generic and flexible to accommodate the broadest possible OS market might produce revolutionary hardware-software platforms. "
All things considered, Apple has done a great job with the A5 processor platform; However longer term Apple will need to make a decision from a competitive standpoint:
* Should apple continue to use Samsung Foundry at 45 nm process node ?
* Note Samsung is a competitor to Apple in the tablet and phone space
* If Apple could partner with Intel to create a low power , high performance multicore SOC at 28 nm it may be a better option strategically for the next 5 years and a win win for both Intel and Apple
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