Apple A5 Processor Dissection Reveals Samsung’s Handywork

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15 Mar, 2011 10:51 am

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Word on the street was Apple’s A5 chip was being produced by TSMC but Chipworks shows in their full teardown of the chip itself, the Apple A5 processor is fabricated by Samsung. If you’re into geeking out on processor porn there are photo’s several comparing memory, logic, and analog block areas in the A5 vs A4.

The image above shows the cover on the left and the image on the right shows small dots which are solder balls. What these little dots tell Chipworks is quite interesting – the ones you want to pay attention to are the tinier ones which are the flip-chip solder balls attached to the actual A5 die. As the chip has quite a giant portion of itself covered with these smaller dots. What this tells us is that the die is itself quite large. In fact, the A5 die is shown to be more than twice as large as the die in the A4. According to Chipworks its a very big clue pointing toward the idea that this chip is still made in 45-nm technology.

Chipworks noted that “the main innovation [in the iPad 2 when compared to the iPad 1] is the A5 chip.” It’s good, they say, and it’s still made by Samsung. They’d heard the rumor that Apple was rolling out with a TSMC A5 chip rather than Samsung, who they’d used on the iPad 1. To prove that Samsung is still behind the chip they cut out a cross-section of the A5 chip and compared it using a microscopic to the A4.

At the transistor level, they show that the transistor gates and dielectric layers are so very similar that there’s basically no way this new chip could be anything BUT Samsung.

Via Slashgear Source Chipworks


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