Through Chipworks, we recently learned that Apple's revised A5 SoC (S5L8942) is built on a 32nm Samsung HKMG process. While its presence in the Apple TV (3rd generation) which we've reviewed and inspected is an absolute certainty, up until recently it hasn't been as common knowledge that the iPad 2,4 ($399 cost reduced Wi-Fi model) also contains the same S5L8942 SoC but with both A9 cores enabled, as opposed to the single core A9 configuration of the Apple TV 3.

To quell any possible naysayers, I grabbed the "iPad2,4_5.1_9B176_Restore" image a while ago, opened it up, and inspected the kernelcache for references to S5L8942, which there are. Note that the iPad2,4 is k93aap, there are numerous other references to S5L8942 elsewhere, including the buildmanifest plist, eg "Firmware/all_flash/all_flash.k93aap.production/glyphcharging.s5l8942x.img3." There's no question about S5L8942 (A5R2) being inside iPad2,4.

The end result is that if you're an iPad2,4 owner, you've got Samsung 32nm HKMG silicon inside. There's no doubt about iPad2,4 being out and in the wild either, as a number of geekbench 2 runs have popped up since release on their online result browser, which I've been watching like a hawk. As an aside, performance between the S5L8942 (A5R2) and S5L8940 (A5) is virtually unchanged between the iPad2,4 and iPad2,1 if you compare runs on the result browser.

The interesting other question is whether iPad2,4 owners have improved battery life compared to those with iPad2,1 (WiFi), though admittedly that's not going to be a common upgrade path for existing iPad 2 owners to check out. I no longer own an iPad 2 but am going to set out to measure and compare to see just how much of a difference there is, which in turn might say something interesting about Samsung's 32nm HKMG process.

Overall, Apple porting the existing A5 design to Samsung's 32nm HKMG process makes a lot of sense to both test the waters and figure out any design issues, as well as not jeopardize production for the high end. At this point seeing another future Apple product using Samsung 32nm HKMG would not be very surprising.

32nm A5 in iPad 2,4 (Source: Chipworks)

Update: Chipworks has also updated and confirmed with a teardown of an iPad2,4 that the expected 32nm A5 S5L8942 is indeed inside. 

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  • btb - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Not really a fan of these silent product updates. If I buy a product i like to know exactly what I get. And getting a new model with low power 32nm processor instead of some old 45 nm "junk" is IMO so big a change that it warrants a clear marking on the product box. Especially in light of the ipad 3 's heat issues, it could be worth it to wait the 6 months or however long it takes to get at all the old 45nm models cleared out of the market.
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    Apple wants you to treat your device like a traditional TV, gaming console or whatever household device, not like a PC. Use it and never spend a thought about its internals..
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    If there are battery life improvements, they probably won't be massive - remember, you've still got a backlight, RAM, flash memory, wireless, and other parts in there that'll be sucking up just as much juice as they ever did.
  • name99 - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    This has ALWAYS been the case.
    When you buy a laptop, you may be getting a hard drive from Toshiba, or from Samsung. The screen may be LG or it may be Sharp. Likewise for the RAM.
    Can you honestly say that you track the WiFi chip or the baseband chip in your cell phone and would no if they changed in this fashion (ie no new capabilities, just new process)? Would you know if the CPU in your iPod had changed back when iPods were all the rage?

    The only difference now is that it's the CPU and you, personally, believe this CPU change is vitally important and needs to be trumpeted to the world --- but Apple doesn't this this change is a big deal and this is not an indefensible stance.
  • shank2001 - Saturday, April 14, 2012 - link

    You are crazy if you think the iPad 3 has a heat issue. While it does run warmer than the iPad 2 it certainly is NEVER, ever in any danger of overheating, or shortening its life in any way. Even when playing the most strenuous of games. And the only time I've ever noticed it actually getting noticably warmer than the iPad 2, was when I had the screen brightness turned up all the way to full. There are probably 8 million iPad 3s out in the wild right now...if there is an overheating issue you'd be hearing about it a lot more.

    All this heat-gate hype is all because of some idiots thinking "Wow this is actually getting warm, unlike the iPad 2" when the increase in heat is actually quite insignificant, and blowing it all out of proportion.

    It isn't because of heat that the move to the new process might be nice, it's that battery life would probably be better, not that it needs much improvement.

    -dictated on the iPad 3
  • chrnochime - Monday, April 16, 2012 - link

    And you're a authoritative source because you say so? What a joke.
  • ucozer - Thursday, April 12, 2012 - link

    My personal favourite Apple product is Iphone 4 , i win one at , i don't know if the offer is still alive but , i do the following i go to after i clik on a button , after a complete a survey it was simple 1 minute , and i submit my email and i wait like 2 days , and yes i WIN a iphone 4 . If you do the same and win one of that just give a little thanks. And one more thing don't consider me a spammer if you think is fake just pass away.
  • Vegerot - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    I still have a question: is there a difference between these two chips?

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