Chip strip reveals 'handmade' Apple A6
Dual-core CPU, three GPUs exposed
Electron microscope photos of an Apple A6 processor lifted out of an iPhone 5 confirm the presence of a dual-core ARM CPU within the system-on-a-chip plus a trio of Imagination Technologues PowerVR graphics cores.
The SoC was pulled from the handset by the team at iFixit.com, and the die extracted from its ceramic package and then photographed by Chipworks.
Close-up snaps of the transistors show the part to be fabbed - by Samsung - on a 32nm process using high-K metal gate technology. The SoC 9.70 x 9.97mm die is labelled 'APL0589B01'.
The CPU element's dual-core design is clear: the top half is the mirror image of the bottom. What's interesting is the seeming lack of efficiency by which the CPU's components have been fitted into that segment of the SoC - and, indeed, the wide spacing of the chip's other components - suggests a 'hand made' quality to the layout.
If Apple has eschewed well-established - and used in pretty much every chip design elsewhere - die layout software tools in favour of a more manual layout, it will have gained a performance advantage at the cost of time and money.
The chip package also contains 1GB of low-power DDR 2 memory made by Elpida. ®
Can't be "Hand Designed" by apple...
... the cores don't have rounded corners.
Re: Corporate firewall
The SIII has 2GB or RAM if you get the 1.5Ghz dual core version. It's the quad core 1.4Ghz version that only has 1GB RAM. Either way it's a faster chip than the A6.
The SIII has an overclocked Mali 400 graphics core. In benchmarks it sits between the dual PowerVR cores of the iPhone 4S and the four PowerVR cores used in the latest iPad. Whilst it's not a direct comparison I'd guess that gives it similar performance to the three PowerVR cores in the iPhone5.
The iPhone 5 which has just been released appears to be slower than the 3 month old Galaxy SIII, at least on paper.
Nothing out of the ordinary
"If Apple has eschewed well-established - and used in pretty much every chip design elsewhere - die layout software tools in favour of a more manual layout..."
This is nonsense......having done chip design/layout for the last 20 years, it is NOT uncommon for layout to be done by "hand". Invariably it is for speed issues and timing optimisation/closure.
Nothing special, original or out of the ordinary. Move along please.
Beer, because chip design is hard work and shit pay, but interesting. Should have been an accountant.