The A6: Apple's SoC Design Team Finally Gets Serious
Brian Dipert, EDN
September 19, 2012
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Apple's iPhone 5, unveiled last Wednesday, isn't the information that the company disclosed at the launch event itself but what's subsequently come to light in the last few days.
After all, courtesy of the notoriously porous and China-dominant supplier and manufacturing subcontractor network that Apple uses to assemble its various devices, we already knew most of what the company told us last Wednesday:
- A larger and higher-pixel-count screen, which would likely prompt some sort of graphics core upgrade beyond that in the A5 SoC found in the iPhone 4S (with both handsets' displays of the "Retina" high pixel density flavor)
- A slightly thinner form factor than that of the iPhone 4, due in part to the ability to "spread" the battery across a larger amount of system real estate (see bigger screen mention above) and in part to the use of in-cell (versus on-cell) touchscreen display technology
- A more svelte and lower-pincount system interface (see thinner form factor mention above), and
- LTE 4G cellular capabilities
But left tantalizingly unexplained, in typical Apple fashion, were the specifics of the new ARM-based A6 SoC found in the iPhone 5. All that we were told last Wednesday was that the A6 delivered up to twice the CPU and GPU performance of the A5, while consuming less power (peak? standby? average? How much?) and with a 22% smaller die size than the A5.
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