updated 04:15 pm EDT, Wed April 11, 2012
Apple TV's new A5 chip built on Samsung 32nm
The latest 1080p-capable Apple TV uses an A5 processor but it is based on 32nm architecture, the Chipworks crew found when they dissected the media player. The part number, APL2498, thus mainly differs from the previous-generation A5 chip (part number APL0498) used in the iPhone 4S by being based on Samsung Semiconductors' 32nm high-k metal gate LP CMOS process technology. The older chip used Samsung's 45nm LP CMOS process.
As such, it's about 41 percent smaller than the older chip, at 69.6mm2. The smaller size has allowed power consumption to be lowered while performance was improved. At the same time, costs were reduced as more dies could fit on the same wafer, which is why the device's price was held at $100 in the US despite more functionality and dropped in other markets. The second-generation Apple TV also used an A4 chip, and HD playback was relegated to 720p quality.
The source has also taken apart an iPad 2 (version 4) and found a different version of the same 32nm A5 chip with both of its cores enabled for duty. The possibility exists that another variation may make it to an upcoming model of the iPhone.
iPhone 4S board on left (APL0498), new Apple TV board on right (APL2498)