iFixIt/Chipworks Teardown of Apple's A7 Processor Finds a Speedy Monster

iFixIt and Chipworks have conducted a joint teardown of Apple's new iPhone 5s, with Chipworks handling the A7 processor that powers the device. On Tuesday, iFixIt published its findings on the A7, including the fact that it uses Samsung's 28 nm fabrication process, and that it's packed full of power.

iFixIt explained that Chipworks measured and compared the distance between each transistor on the A7 and Apple's previous generation A6 processor, as shown in the image below. According to the site:

Turns out that the A7's 'gate pitch' — the distance between each transistor — is 114 nm, compared to the A6's 123 nm. Big whoop, you say? Those 9 nm are a big deal. It turns out that the A7 is made with the same 28 nm process as the eight-core Samsung Exynos 5410, the current flagship CPU for Samsung's own Galaxy line.


A6 Cross-section Compared to A7 Cross-section

"Applying some mathematrickery," iFixIt said, "this seemingly small change equates to having the same computing power, but in 77% of the original area. And given that the A7 processor is even larger in area than the A6, that means even more processing power to lead a healthy, smartphone-laden lifestyle."

So it's fast, Samsung is making it, it uses the same process as Samsung's Exynos 5410 octa-core processor powering some of Samsung's high-end devices outside the U.S., and it has more than a billion transistors on it. That's all pretty interesting.

iFixit has several photos on its teardown site. One of our favorites is this view of all those transistors, but there's also a 6,489 x 4,867 pixel version of the image so you can get a little more close up and personal with them, maybe pick out your favorite.


One billion transistors on the chip, one billion transistors on the chip
Take one down, pass it around, 999,999,999 transistors on the chip