Apple A6 Processor

  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 March 2011 01:05 PM

    Well the engineers are busy in the lab running the A5 through every test known to man and things are looking pretty impressive. 

    The A5 is built with the memory stacked directly on the processor using flip chip technology probably from Amkor, the previous packaging company.  Some of the gory details won’t be available until next week, but we already know a ton.  The new A5 is much larger then the A4 die 10.1 x 12.1 mm (122.2 mm2), vs 7.3 x 7.3 mm (53.3 mm2).  When we tie that in with the increase from 5K wafers to 20K wafer per month Samsung rumor . I’m estimating about 480 vs 1200 dies per wafer so at 90% yield we get 432 SOC per wafer or a production max capacity of 8.64M per month.  These should eventually find their way into iPhone, ATV and iPod Touch. 

    Chipworks is still trying to verify the TSMC vs Samsung rumor, but UBM Tech Insights claims

    UBM TechInsights used optical die and SEM cross-section images to analyse important features such as die edge seal, metal 1 pitch, logic and SRAM transistor gate measurements. These features were then compared to other manufacturers in our database, including other Samsung 45nm parts. The previous generation Apple A4 processor was also fabbed on Samsung?s 45nm process.

    Also noted was the use of two DRAM memory suppliers

    What is also interesting is that teardowns performed at two UBM TechInsights locations (Austin and Ottawa) revealed two different LPDDR2 DRAM from two different manufacturers (Samsung and Elpida). The Samsung K4P2G324EC LPDDR2 die is the first time we?ve seen Samsung?s new 46nm LPDDR2 memory. This also tells us that Apple is fully prepared to package multiple LPDDR2 offerings.

    Anandtech has an outstanding article detailing the GPU performance and comparing to both the iPad 1 and Xoom.  I would say the A5 could turn the Apple TV into a capble console gaming machine.  We will need to wait and see if iOS 5 brings gaming support for Apple TV

    One other interesting tidbit captured by IO Snoops is frequency gating of the processor cores.  This is an advanced technique used to save battery life.

    [ Edited: 21 September 2011 01:47 PM by pats ]      
  • Posted: 13 March 2011 01:15 PM #1

    Looks like Apple decided to put the processing where it counted - in the graphics chip. The general consensus is that the Tegra 2 package is very good but Apple is blowing away the benchmarks in the graphics department which is where the better games score. This will also upset the open-source Geek crowd who thought Android had the upper hand with the Nvidia chip.

    I notice Nvidia are talking up their quad core chip due in the last quarter of the year. Sort of “Don’t look at that, look at this, ooh shiny” argument.

    Signature

    .

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 March 2011 01:43 PM #2

    rattyuk - 13 March 2011 04:15 PM

    Looks like Apple decided to put the processing where it counted - in the graphics chip. The general consensus is that the Tegra 2 package is very good but Apple is blowing away the benchmarks in the graphics department which is where the better games score. This will also upset the open-source Geek crowd who thought Android had the upper hand with the Nvidia chip.

    I notice Nvidia are talking up their quad core chip due in the last quarter of the year. Sort of “Don’t look at that, look at this, ooh shiny” argument.

    I think Kal-El portends more excitement for 2012

    Today at Mobile World Congress (MWC), we demonstrated this little beauty running in an Android tablet. We not only showed that it was alive. We showed it browsing the Web, running games and streaming amazing video. This wasn?t your average amazing video. It was 1440p video content running on a 2560?1600 panel. That will enable mobile devices to output to the highest resolution monitors or tablets equipped with a 10.1-inch display with 300 DPI.

    Funny thing is if we believe rumors are partly true Apple has pretty much locked in and bankrolled the display vendors with their 3.9B so they can actually deliver in 2012 high resolution 10” retina displays, rather then Nvida who have to hope that an Android manufacture like Moto will have the balls to step infront of the Apple freight train again.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 13 April 2011 06:28 PM #3

    EE Times has an article which attempts to unravel the mystery behind Apple large die size increase between the A4 & A5.  Not much in detail since the folks actually doing any reverse engineering charge a pretty penny for their work, but some interesting factoids.

    If we remember back to the days of PA SEMI, It appears to me that Apple has implemented Pa Semi’s fine grain clock gating .

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 15 April 2011 08:40 AM #4

    Worker Bee, is that you???? Translation please. WTH. Spam? Confused I am.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 20 April 2011 09:44 AM #5

    pats - 13 April 2011 09:28 PM

    EE Times has an article which attempts to unravel the mystery behind Apple large die size increase between the A4 & A5.  Not much in detail since the folks actually doing any reverse engineering charge a pretty penny for their work, but some interesting factoids.

    I have just read the EE Times article today, as it did come up again via All Things Digital.
    It is relatively long but quite interesting, especially the following quotes from page 5:

    Simply bold
    Bold is the only word that can be used to describe Apple’s A5. It was bold to design such a large device. Certainly the CPU+GPU combination is significantly larger than the comparable portion of the A4. However, this is only the beginning of the story. Going beyond these basic elements leaves an additional 34 mm2 or 64 percent of the whole A4 die. Yes, there are very likely additional IP cores there, but there might also be some clever custom design that leverages Apple’s integrated approach.

    Such a large SoC must be considered a strategic business decision to retain or capture more market share for the consumer products that depend on it. Apple’s control of hardware design and OS creates some interesting possibilities.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 15 July 2011 11:16 AM #6

    First news from [url=http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/15/tsmc-apple-idUST8E7HL02K20110715?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologySector&rpc=43]Reuters [ /url] on Apple’s A6 using TSMC. 

    Reuters) - Taiwan’s TSMC has started trial manufacturing of next generation A6 chips for Apple Inc , a source familiar with the matter said, in a sign that the iPad maker is shifting from its traditional chip supplier, Samsung Electronics

    This should be a die shrink to TSMCs 28NM process so 2012 should see a nice performance boost.  Looks like the A6 is on schedule for a IPad 3 in the spring.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 15 July 2011 02:05 PM #7

    Are you guys saying iPad 3 is going to be bigger in size?  Or marketed as iPad 2 HD?

    Signature

    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  - Steve Jobs

         
  • Posted: 15 July 2011 05:21 PM #8

    Mace - 15 July 2011 05:05 PM

    Are you guys saying iPad 3 is going to be bigger in size?  Or marketed as iPad 2 HD?

    Some of us guys are saying that it ain’t gonna happen no way, no how.

    But I’d be interested to see the opinion of those who do foresee it happening.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 15 July 2011 05:28 PM #9

    Mace - 15 July 2011 05:05 PM

    Are you guys saying iPad 3 is going to be bigger in size?  Or marketed as iPad 2 HD?

    I doubt they go with the HD thing especially if they include a screen resolution higher then.HD, since the average consumer thinks 1080p is HD,I also doubt the new iPad in Oct rumors, because the seed money Apple provided to Sharp and Toshiba for new factories were not coming on line until late 2011 the timeline on the A6 matches the schedule on the A4 based on the stolen iPhone 4 having a chip built in Sep.  I think Apple will stick with the same screen size formthe next version.

         
  • Avatar

    Posted: 21 September 2011 01:35 PM #10

    Update on TSMC 28NM from CENS

    Industry executives estimated the company?s 28nm process production lines to run at full capacity in the first quarter of 2012. To keep up with brisk demands, TSMC has begun pilot production at its Fab15 300mm wafer fab, which is located in the Central Taiwan Science Park.

    TSMC will begin small-volume production based on 28nm process in the fourth quarter of the year. In light of higher flawless output rate than expected in pilot production, Nvidia Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD) have reportedly increased contracts for the company?s 28nm process capacity in the first quarter of 2012.

    Most likely process for the A6.  Good sign that yields are better then expected.