The Apple A5 processor in the Apple TV is burned at 32 nm
April 13th, 2012 - 03:40 am ET by C. D.
While the Apple TV comes with a single core Apple A5 processor, it is burned at 32 nm and not 45 nm like the Apple A4, the A5 in the iPad 2/iPhone 4S or A5X present in the new iPad.
Chipworks made a strange discovery when inspecting the Apple A5 processor present in the latest Apple TV release. Supposed to be more or less identical to that present in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S but in a single core version, it appears that this processor is dual core like the others but with one of the cores disabled.
Chipworks suggests that this could be because the processors were manufactured as dual core, but an issue was possibly found with one of them so that it was permanently disabled. This would Allow Apple to recycle some of their faulty components which didn’t meet their quality standards, but which are nevertheless operational with a single core.
Apple TV sales are not very high when compared to Apple’s other products, so this could allow them to save on having to develop a specific hardware set for it. It could also simply be that Apple purposely limited the dual core function to a single core so that they could use the same production lines as that producing the dual core components.
No matter the reason for this, economies of scale and cost reduction can explain such a choice.
The most interesting point is that the A5 processor present in the Apple TV isn’t burned at 45 nm like its Apple A4 (iPad 1, iPhone 4) and Apple A5 predecessors present in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, or even the Apple A5X processor in the new iPad.
Chipworks points out that this processor, still produced by Samsung, is in fact burned at 32 nm high-k metal gate, which reduces its surface area by 41% when compared to the Apple A5 burned at 45 nm LP while also making it more efficient.
The question therefore has to be asked: is this a planned evolution for other existing products like the iPhone 4S (and the iPad 2 as this 32nm burned processor is found in the last versions of the tablet) or is it even a hint as to what may be in the next iPhone release? In any event, it would appear that the similar hardware platform found in all Apple devices is starting to show some variances for different products, although always based around the same theme.