updated 07:56 am EDT, Mon March 11, 2013
New A5 processor on 28nm process suggests transition from Samsung
Apple's recent update of the Apple TV has revealed a second die-shrink for its A5 processor, reports Macrumors. A new version of the Apple TV (A1469) was acknowledged by Apple, which said the new model continues with the same functionality as the previous edition, but that it does include an unspecified component change. Now revealed, the new component also shows that Apple has switched to 28nm process for the chip, suggesting that it may have started its transition from Samsung for its chip fabrication.
When the A5 chip originally debuted in the iPad 2 in 2011, it was built on a 45nm process. In May the next year, Apple quietly 'upgraded' the iPad 2 with a 32nm design that also yielded a noticeable boost in battery life. Although the new A5 chip in the Apple TV has yet to be X-rayed, it is likely a dual-core chip with its second core disabled, as with the 32nm A5 chips in the previous Apple TV model. The use of the A5 design in this way helps to boost chip yield by allowing for an otherwise 'faulty' chip to be utilized, but in a single-core configuration.
As Samsung currently uses a 32nm process for most of its chips, except for the new Exynos 5 Octa that will debut in the new Galaxy S4, it indicates that Apple may have already partnered with TSMC on the latest iteration of the A5 design. Analysts had seen evidence suggesting that Apple may have accelerated its plans to transition from Samsung sooner, rather than later, thanks to the ongoing patent disputes between the two companies.