Is Apple iPhone 5 the first handset with Cortex-A15 processor cores? Analysts think so

Is Apple iPhone 5 the first handset with Cortex-A15 processor cores? Analysts think so
As usual, Apple didn't want too much geeky terminology around its gadgets, so yesterday it simply stated that the A6 system chip inside the iPhone 5 is "2x faster" than the A5 in the iPhone 4S, both in terms of processor cores, and in graphics subsystem.

This immediately led to the speculation that Apple might be the first to market with a processor based on the Cortex-A15 platform of the British chip designers ARM Holdings. So far a few chip makers like NVIDIA with Tegra 4, TI's OMAP5 family, and Samsung's Exynos 5-series have announced them as Cortex-A15 endeavors, but none has materialized in a device yet.

Anand LaShimpi from Anandtech fame claimed yesterday that the A6 is indeed a dual-core Cortex-A15 processor, most likely made in Samsung's Austin, Texas foundry, with the same 32nm LP HK+MG processor used for the Exynos 4412 in the Samsung Galaxy S III, and for the 5-series Exynos. 

Cortex-A15 at 2GHz has twice the performance of Cortex-A9 at 1.5GHz, but as far as we know Apple, the A6 is likely clocked much lower, yet could still be "2x faster" than A5 at its respective clock frequency. As for the graphics boost, the quad-core PowerVR GPU that is in the new iPad might have found its way into the iPhone 5 as well, clocked lower to save battery, hence doubling the performance against the dual-core PowerVR in last year's A5 chip.

We won't know for sure until the first teardown or tailored tests appear, but an analyst from Nomura Securities today confirmed that the A6 is a dual-core Cortex-A15 undertaking, made with Samsung's 32nm process. Now we don't know whether the A6 cores have been modified to only use the A15 instruction set, like Qualcomm does with its Snapdragon S4 and Se Pro "Krait" cores, which can't be called A15 ones with precision, as the architecture is different.

Still, we should know soon enough with certainty whether the iPhone 5 is beating everyone to the game of outing a handset that uses the next generation of the ARM processor architecture. After all, iPhone 5 will have to go against Cortex-A15 handsets next year, so it has to hold its own at least until next September.

source: EETimes & AnandTech

Related phones

iPhone 5
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 1440 mAh(8h 3G talk time)



1. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

it wouldn't be used much anyway - and Apple didn't probably manufacture it. but if it was, cool but iOS won't need it. i'm still saying it's not. much like the 200 new features of iOS 6: crap.

3. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

and if it was Samsung.... ha! Exynos 5, when it comes, will destroy this and that time, it will be used with so much hardware and software.

10. CX3NT3_713

Posts: 2350; Member since: Apr 18, 2011

Apple had its 5 seconds of fame,, now samsung and LG, are going too release the beasts !!!

16. xoutrageousx

Posts: 70; Member since: Dec 22, 2011

LG? good one bro. They are the next RIM/HTC

26. caseball2051

Posts: 31; Member since: Feb 09, 2012

no. LG is releasing a beastly phone on verizon in the next month or two. HTC also has a rumored phablet coming.

43. lsutigers

Posts: 832; Member since: Mar 08, 2009

Uhhh, I believe you mean Sprint, it has been code named Eclipse and should sport a Qualcomm S4 Pro Quad. I think AT&T might be getting a similar version too but I have heard nothing about Verizon.

2. 09wbd03516

Posts: 140; Member since: May 30, 2012

No matter how good it is, it never change the fact that it is an APPLE!!! we dislike apple!!!! It spoils my reputation!!!!

5. sadaivadai

Posts: 156; Member since: Nov 22, 2011

I see what you did there ..

4. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

If there is a Cortex A15 chip in the iPhone 5 thatd be great, but iOS is so polished that it doesnt need all that power. Thats like sticking a 5.0L V8 engine inside a toyota prius. You should all know that specs on an iPhone or Windows Phone dont matter nearly as much as they do on an Android device.

6. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Where the furk are those Lumia 920 articles???? Lumia 920 > iPhone 5

23. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

No new developments, and pageviews pay for ads, and thus the rent. It is a free site, after all (not like NYT's)

7. xtian1103

Posts: 364; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

samsung will likely put the same technology on the galaxy nexus

8. adamross55

Posts: 16; Member since: Apr 23, 2012

What are you talking about? The galaxy nexus has been out for nearly a year must mean the next nexus device?

17. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

Not a Android user I see. Consider the "Nexus" as Google's flagship model (which is updated every year) that showcases the hardware and "vanilla" OS as one complete whole. It's the first phone to receive stock Android every year. It's the closet thing to an iPhone when it comes to updates. It may not be the fastest or has the best hardware at the time of release but it serves as a model to which other Android OEM's should match or exceed. It's the benchmark for Android devices. The Galaxy S3 for example still has Ice Cream Sandwich (officially) but it's hardware out classes every aspect of the current Galaxy Nexus with Jellybean. The OP is referring to the next Nexus model which should be announced before years end.

35. E.N.

Posts: 2610; Member since: Jan 25, 2009

did you even read adamross55's comment?

28. xtian1103

Posts: 364; Member since: Feb 11, 2012

yeah i mean the "next" nexus device, sorry bout that

9. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

ahm think logically the iphone 5 said to be 2x better it canĀ“t be the a15 cortex cuz it would be more than 2x faster! i think is just dualcore 2 times faster lol and if it was a15 cortex than apple would mentioned it for shure at the keynote if u look at the cheap new panorama feature that other device have a long time befor and apple mentioned it.. thats way apple would mentioned it 4 shure that the cpu is a a15 cortex

11. redmd

Posts: 1935; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

I think it doesn't have that A15. Apple hyped the fifth row but did not hype the A15?!

12. hung2900

Posts: 966; Member since: Mar 02, 2012

Apple A5 SoC of iPhone 4S has the clockrate @800Mhz, so this is still Cortex A9 but clocking at @1500-1600Mhz, that's all.

13. dawolf

Posts: 23; Member since: Oct 14, 2011

noway they have an A15 chip before samsung, nice try but the iphone 5 is still a disappointment.

14. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Anandtech didnt "claim" shyt. They were speculating based on Apple's numbers Here's a simple issue though. Apple's i4s DOESNT RUN AT 1.5GHZ IT RUNS AT 800MHZ. Modifying the current A5X found in the new ipad with a higher CPU clock and a lower GPU clock will the same results while still giving battery life. That would make it equivalent to an Exynos 4412 with Apple's PowerVR core. Thats an A9 with a quad core GPU. Clocking the chip up to even 1.2ghz would pretty much fit the "2x as powerful" compared to the A5's 800mhz setting and equivalence to the older Exynos dual core found in the SGS2. People need to quit getting their panties in a bunch until we get confirmation one way or another. However it is very UNLIKE apple to be at the forefront of new tech. Also considering the bad blood between Apple and Samsung, I find it unlikely that they would give Apple such an advantage on their own chips by giving them A15's months before they use them for their own devices. Unless Apple threw down a pile of cash to bribe them.

22. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Or, contract terms require Sammy to produce what Apple designs. The A5X chip seemed to be a hybrid design that didn't have a comparable Sammy analogy. I haven't seen Apple stretch the envelope on iPhone hardware (especially as regards power consumption trade-offs), but who knows? If they had done something revolutionary, they generally like to crow about it. This time around, they are all mum about their processor.

24. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

the A5X chip is the Exynos 4212 (thats the dual core version of the 4412 found in the international SGS3 and Note2) with a powerVR GPU that is very over clocked. That was the main reason for the heat issue and massive battery in the "new ipad". The A5 chip is the same as the older Exynos chip found in the SGS2 and it was clocked at 800mhz in the i4s. Just going from the A5 to the A5X and upping the clock frequencies to like 1.2 or so would give them a massive power boost as well as battery savings since your going from 40nm to 32nm HKG. They tone down the overclock in the PowerVR chip or use a slightly different model, and you still get a huge GPU boost without all the battery eating of the new ipad. Call it the "A6" just to show there is a difference. Honestly, the A5X should have been called the A6 to begin with since it was an entirely different chip. This should be called the A6x if I'm right about the chip itself. People that keep claiming that it must be an A15 keep missing the whole "the i4S was very underclocked" fact. If its an A15, then thats outstanding and makes the phone even more powerful than if its a rebranded 4412. However, that is very very very unlike apple as they would be paying a premium for A15's more so than they would for the 4412 chips wich are made in large quantities. A15's just dont have the output yield as well. Apple needs a massive supply of chips. I dont think even Samsung has enough output to throw out 30 million A15 chips to supply the needs of Apple. If they did, then we would have seen samsung using A15's by now as well. There is a lot to consider. And all of it points to the rebranded 4412 chip as the most likely chip hidden under that "A6" insignia. And if it is an A15, then that makes me excited for the next line of Samsung products, because it means the LTE issues are solved. And your right. If it was the first A15 to market, Apple would be screaming it from the hilltops... hell, if there was ANYTHING new about the chip, Apple would make a whole segment on how "hard and difficult it was to create something new and magical" like they did with the extra 0.5 inch screen and ear buds. "years of development".. lol

30. kabel

Posts: 148; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

Exynos != A5/A5X/A6 or whatever apple processor This is a pure speculation from you. Can you prove that Apple uses some modified Exynos? Why on earth would Samsung Mobile (which is not the same with Samsung Foundry ==> Samsung Mobile != Samsung Foundry) give SoC designs on competitor? Make no sense. Keep dreaming that Samsung Mobile is giving away their intellectual property. As i've said, you have no proof that Exynos == A5/A5X/A6

34. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

wow.. really? lol. you need to just stop typing and go do some mild research.

41. kabel

Posts: 148; Member since: Nov 06, 2011

I have not seen single link/resource supporting your claims. Why don't you post some links supporting your claims ... You are just ... what? Speculating...

42. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

because they have all been linked before. It is not my job to continually relink to the same crap over and over again because new people join the conversation without first educating themselves on what is discussed. Im willing to bet you can google search at the very top of this page. Figure out how to use it to educate yourself and quit expecting others to do it for you. I am happy to discuss it with someone that actually cares enough to look up info themselves.

15. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

Speed was never the issue with the iPhone 4S. Everything else was. Does it matter if the iPhone used a 10ghz chip? For Android devices it does matter because Google keeps adding core features to the operating system every year. IOS is still the same old thing.

19. Shino

Posts: 196; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

Now we can expect Galaxy S4 to have an aluminium unibody design...;0

27. ph00ny

Posts: 2031; Member since: May 26, 2011

ugh i hope not. Aluminum gets dented easily, interferes with radio signal, etc

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