The A6 processor of iPhone 5 detailed - "the only manual layout in a chip to hit the market in several years"

The A6 processor of iPhone 5 detailed -
The engineers from Chipworks have landed their ion blaster and electronic microscope gear to iFixit for a deeper analysis of the Apple A6 processor than we find in the new iPhone 5. The phone itself they call "full of brand new components…best Apple release since the first iPhone," so we can expect an engineering marvel with a fair certainty.

The team already solved the mystery of the iSight camera, and it was, just as we expected, a 5-lens Sony camera module, but now they are turning their attention to the silicon that churns out those record benchmark scores - the homebrew Apple A6.

It turns out that the chip is indeed homebrew, and laid-out manually at that, not by a computer - a process, they say, which is way more expensive and takes much longer, but results in faster processors. 

The processor uses the ARMv7s instruction set, but is a completely custom design, which is very close to the Cortex-A15 generation, but tweaked for Apple's purposes. In fact, this is the first manually laid-out processor that has hit the market in several years, with a much larger die area than the A5, and more functionality. The processor is still produced by Samsung, on its 32nm HKMG process, but the design is entirely Apple, it seems.

There is also 1GB of Elpida memory, a Cirrus Logic class D audio amplifier, and Broadcom wireless connectivity chip. As for the LTE radio, it is the most advanced one Qualcomm can offer at the moment for mass production - the MDM9615 - coupled to an RTR8600 multiband RF transceiver, for support of various 4G and 3G bands.

source: iFixit

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)

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23 Comments

1. pikapowerize

Posts: 1869; Member since: May 03, 2012

looking good but still underpowered!

20. WakaFlakaD

Posts: 575; Member since: Apr 30, 2011

Stop saying stuffs without a rational thinking people

2. Great_Stuff

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

see people that's how a good processor is made: It just shows that a well engineered product doesn't need crazy specs to run smooth and have great battery life. Android these days just seems to want jump on the latest thing without perfecting anything. The iphone uses half the muscle a top tier android phone have yet it out scored pretty much every cross platform benchmark... how do you explain that????

7. bobfreking55

Posts: 866; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

and it's also why Samsung Galaxy S phones are good right? Exynos was made by Samsung for Samsung. It's like making a cake with icing but only eating the icing. OEMs should use only what they need, if not, the device will be imperfect in its performance.

14. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It is explained by iOS being a super lightweight OS. Android is a very heavy OS. Android needs more power to do things like multi-task and allow deep customization as well as many other features. Since iOS doesn't do those things, it can be written much more basically allowing the OS to be streamlined.

19. nak1017

Posts: 328; Member since: Jan 08, 2010

See, that's a well thought out explaination everyone. Please follow Capt Doug's example...

23. Captain_Doug

Posts: 1037; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

sometimes I just feel like no one notices... =D

3. Jimstar

Posts: 259; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

so is it the same LTE radio for all versions? and if so why the lack of voice and data on the Sprint and Verizon variants?

16. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

CDMA versus GSM/UMTS I'd guess, if that's the case

8. Kronic

Posts: 321; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Samsung just got owned. Go f**k your exynos! Lol

13. doejon

Posts: 411; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

lol first samsung produced this chip! 2. wait 4 the new exynos

15. Kronic

Posts: 321; Member since: Sep 11, 2012

Apple designed the technology. Samsung is just acting like a factory, also when the A7 releases its gonna fry exynos with its sophisticated design.

17. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Yeah, because samsung is really going to put their very best tech in a competitor's product...

9. twens

Posts: 1172; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

You guys are soo funny. If the iPhone is packed with half of the features and task the s3 does it will crawl even with what ever chip is inside it. With all these hardware and it still can't manage a simple Bluetooth file transfer? Talk of transferring your files between your pc and the phone? You can't even simple delete media you put on the phone. You have to go all de way to use your pc. I will pass on any iPhone no matter the specs it's still bullcrap.

10. Raziel14

Posts: 10; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

what do you mean by "laid-out manually" ? any link I can read more about that process? :)

22. IHateApple

Posts: 122; Member since: Sep 26, 2012

It's kinda complicated. I read about it in a Anandtech article long ago.

12. rihel_95

Posts: 305; Member since: Mar 21, 2012

LoL What Camera they used to take ultra macro shots?

18. lzsbleach

Posts: 155; Member since: May 20, 2012

You have to give it to apple they did a good job on Samsungs processor and that was because they had a good foundation to build it upon (Samsung). Even though every one complains about Samsung's cheap plastic they have quality components and thats why apple chooses them to make alot of components in the Iphone.

21. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Where is Remixfa on this? It is funny because he keep saying it is a rebranded Samsung processor.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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