This one caught us off guard, but Apple just announced the A6 SoC powering the new iPhone 5 features 2x faster CPU and GPU performance compared to the iPhone 4S. Apple reserves major Ax SoC number iterations for architecture changes, combine that with the performance claims as well as some other stuff we've heard offline and there's one conclusion: the iPhone 5 uses ARM Cortex A15 cores inside. Update: It uses a custom Apple core!

Our guess is two cores. No word on the GPU yet.

The A6 is 22% smaller than the A5, although it's not clear if that's a package or die size claim yet. There's a good chance this is built on Samsung's 32nm LP HK+MG process.



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  • gunblade - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    That was a wild guess. Thinking back, there is no way Apple will take chances on both CPU and GPU in a chip that are gonna be this high volume.
    Therefore, I think it is most likely Cortex A15 with tweaked double clock rate(500Mhz) on SGX543MP2 GPU.
  • TheJian - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    You sound so definitive in your previous post "However, the earliest mass produced and shipped standard licensed Cortex A15 based design is the Apple A6"

    Then it becomes what it is..."a wild guess". Nuff said. At least you threw in the words "I think" in your next one :)
  • gunblade - Thursday, September 13, 2012 - link

    I am pretty sure about the Cortex A15 part, since a few of my ex-coworkers join their SOC validation team a year ago and they were rushing to get silicon working late last year. The Rogue based assumption is the wild guess and tipoo rightfully pointed out that it is very unlikely if the performance only increases two-fold. Given that there are quite a few SGX543/544 based GPU scale to over 532Mhz on the TSMC 28nm process, I think it is quite safe to assume that Apple if needed can get good enough yield to have 500Mhz on their new SOC. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    I'm really a fan of the live blogging, great stuff! The pictures, too! Keep it up!

    (I probably won't be buying an iproducts though...) :P
  • snoozemode - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    If its twich as fast it seems more likely that it is a quad-core cortex a9. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Nah, quad core is mostly useless in a phone (now and for some time to come). Reply
  • TheJian - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Quad, Dual, etc...Heck 100 core...Means nothing (just like the chip name), it's about the experience the device gives and how long you get that experience (battery power). The one with both being the best wins. Unfortunately both are kind of all over the place with no clear winner yet (will there ever be?...LOL). I'd prefer to see apple's ipad battery life on my tegra based tablet (wayne?). I really wouldn't mind them slipping in a thicker battery to get it. I don't require paper thin devices screwing me out of battery life to get thin.

    If Apple starts spending money on games they'll win my money early next year or xmas 2013. I'm still waiting on a good (affordable) 10in. Ipad isn't what I'd call affordable (exact opposite - but surface/nexus 10in, kindle hd should bring apple back to reality soon). Nobody can really complain about the experience on any of the latest devices. They may continue to get better (surely), but it won't be leaps and bounds above any other no matter the brand/chip. We're nearing console like performance. Until the "killer app" comes along what do we need more power for over say next xmas (2013) devices? You go to your PC for real power. These are just fart around devices we carry. You don't edit photos etc for 8hrs at work on an ipad/iphone etc. If an employee tries to do that I'll tell them get back on your PC/Mac and get some real work done or you're fired :)
  • Lucian Armasu - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    Unless Samsung gave Apple their Exynos 5 Dual CPU, which would be pretty shocking, I have a really hard time seeing how this is based on Cortex A15. I still think it's quad core A9, which would also deserve a new A6 name, since A5X was dual core. What would they have named it otherwise? A5X2? Sounds a little silly. Reply
  • gunblade - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    well, given the diesize area shrink by 22%, it has to be a different core configuration. Coupling with the fact that higher clock speed will exponentially increase the dynamic switching energy, it is very clear that the A6 has to be a Cortex A15 based design in order to reach the 2x performance claim. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - link

    But it's also on a smaller fabrication process, and the CPU cores are actually a minority part of the SoC die. I think it could still be smaller than the old one with four A9s. Reply

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