New Apple TV, iPad 2 may be testbeds for Samsung's 32nm chip-making process

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014


The 1080p-streaming Apple TV and $399 iPad 2 use a new variant of Apple's A5 processor that may be a testbed for Samsung's 32nm High-K + Metal Gate process, which could find its way into future A-series chips powering devices like a next-generation iPhone.



Extrapolating from Chipworks' Wednesday report on Apple's custom A5 chip, it can be guessed that the iPhone maker is testing out Samsung's 32nm HK+MG process to flesh out any bugs before fully transferring to the technology, according to AnandTech.



Apple will be moving from the 45nm LP CMOS process used in both the iPhone 4S and last year's iPad 2 to a newer, more efficient 32nm node. In order to make the leap, testing is usually done with non-complex, small nodes like those found in the new Apple TV.



Because the number of Apple TVs sold is much less either the iPhone or the iPad, it is an ideal platform on which to test small-run batches using the 32nm process. If problems occur, the new chips can always be swapped out for current iterations built on the 45nm process.





Source: AnandTech







Future Apple products using the new Samsung node should be more efficient, meaning that complex processes can be executed without sacrificing battery life. It remains to be seen whether the next-generation iPhone will sport a processor based on the A5 architecture or if it will feature a design complex enough to denote the A6 moniker. For example, the design of the silicon in the new iPad, an A5X chip which is basically a 45nm A5 processor augmented with four graphics cores, was apparently not significant enough to warrant a name change.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    emoelleremoeller Posts: 332member
    This probably explains all of the interest from Apple when I returned my brand new ATV that I picked up when I got the new iPad (both were released the same day). The ATV worked fine for a couple of days and then developed a series of white flashes the got progressively worse. After trying everything that I knew to try, I phoned Apple Technical support and they confirmed that I had done everything I could and authorized a replacement back at the Apple store.



    Well, it wasn't long after replacing the unit that I received a series of emails from Apple Technical Support requesting lots of information on what happened. This was followed up with a series of phone calls from another Apple tech group. As I had taken photos of the screen and had provided very detailed information on all models and s/n from all of my connected electronics (TV, stereo, etc.) they seemed quite happy.



    I don't think I've ever had this much attention for a returned product before. The new ATV is working perfectly!
  • Reply 2 of 25
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post


    This probably explains all of the interest from Apple when I returned my brand new ATV that I picked up when I got the new iPad (both were released the same day). The ATV worked fine for a couple of days and then developed a series of white flashes the got progressively worse. After trying everything that I knew to try, I phoned Apple Technical support and they confirmed that I had done everything I could and authorized a replacement back at the Apple store.



    Well, it wasn't long after replacing the unit that I received a series of emails from Apple Technical Support requesting lots of information on what happened. This was followed up with a series of phone calls from another Apple tech group. As I had taken photos of the screen and had provided very detailed information on all models and s/n from all of my connected electronics (TV, stereo, etc.) they seemed quite happy.



    I don't think I've ever had this much attention for a returned product before. The new ATV is working perfectly!



    This is one of the greatest stories I have heard of real-world customer service. They helped verify the issue, offered a no-hassle option for return/exchange, and then followed up in detail to try and make sure that you were satisfied and that this issue wasn't happening again, plus doing their research for any future problems. Great stuff, and probably the main reason that I will never leave Apple as long as their customer support is the way it is.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,193member
    I expect we will see this smaller process appear in the new iPhone. Think similar performance to the A5X but renewed focus on power efficiency and an ?A6? moniker to reinforce that it?s state of the art.



    They are likely to move to 4G which will require power savings from other areas. The piece on extending the height of the display without affecting the width is very compelling. While I prefer the display ratio on the existing iPad and iPhone to that of most widescreen displays it does allow for a larger battery without fundamentally changing how the device feels in your hand.



    I would like to see the iPhone available in as many colours as the iPod nano, but if I was Tim Cook I would save that for a lean update year. It?s going to increase the complexity of the supply chain but that might be offset by increased sales.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    tipootipoo Posts: 826member
    That's what I thought, they're testing out 32nm in smaller batches before the big ramp up for the next iPhone. That also fits in with the rumour of the power enhanced A5X variant for the next iphone, although I'm not sure with a screen that small it needs that extra GPU power. I'd rather keep the 543MP2 graphics cores and have them speed up the CPU cores instead.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,065member
    Exactly what Soli suggested ...
  • Reply 6 of 25
    I'm hoping a 32mm A5 will make it in to the next iPod Touch. Smaller manufacturing process might also allow better battery life (or smaller, cheaper batteries).
  • Reply 7 of 25
    This.



    5 chars.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tipoo View Post


    That's what I thought, they're testing out 32nm in smaller batches before the big ramp up for the next iPhone. That also fits in with the rumour of the power enhanced A5X variant for the next iphone, although I'm not sure with a screen that small it needs that extra GPU power. I'd rather keep the 543MP2 graphics cores and have them speed up the CPU cores instead.



  • Reply 8 of 25
    macbook promacbook pro Posts: 1,605member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Dunks View Post


    I expect we will see this smaller process appear in the new iPhone. Think similar performance to the A5X but renewed focus on power efficiency and an ?A6? moniker to reinforce that it?s state of the art.



    They are likely to move to 4G which will require power savings from other areas. The piece on extending the height of the display without affecting the width is very compelling. While I prefer the display ratio on the existing iPad and iPhone to that of most widescreen displays it does allow for a larger battery without fundamentally changing how the device feels in your hand.



    I would like to see the iPhone available in as many colours as the iPod nano, but if I was Tim Cook I would save that for a lean update year. It?s going to increase the complexity of the supply chain but that might be offset by increased sales.



    I strongly suspect the new Apple iPhone will feature the Apple A5X which with 1 GB RAM and 4G LTE will be required for Apple Maps.



    Placebase purchased in 2009

    Poly9 purchased in 2010

    C3 Technologies purchased in 2011



    The use of 32 nm process would partially alleviate size and power issues which might otherwise arise if Apple attempted to build much more capability in the new iPhone.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    hittrj01hittrj01 Posts: 753member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


    I strongly suspect the new Apple iPhone will feature the Apple A5X which with 1 GB RAM and 4G LTE will be required for Apple Maps.



    Placebase purchased in 2009

    Poly9 purchased in 2010

    C3 Technologies purchased in 2011



    The use of 32 nm process would partially alleviate size and power issues which might otherwise arise if Apple attempted to build much more capability in the new iPhone.



    If they do indeed roll out their own Maps app, I could see that being THE tentpole feature of iOS 6. I keep trying to think of major changes they could make (and no, I don't believe widgets, at least in the Android sense, is likely), and this is the one that seems the most probable. 4G, faster processor, more RAM, built-from-the-ground-up mapping technology with the usual Apple flare? I'd be in for sure.
  • Reply 10 of 25
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member
    Smart move on Apple's part. They probably caught wind of TSMC's 28nm fabrication issues, did the math, and figured out they'd get more consistent yields with Samsung through their 2nd generation 32nm process. Recent papers are even showing there's a strong possibility Samsung's Foundry operations may in actuality have lower costs than TSMC's.





    Seems to me the higher-ups at Apple are being pragmatic.
  • Reply 11 of 25
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post


    This probably explains all of the interest from Apple when I returned my brand new ATV that I picked up when I got the new iPad (both were released the same day). The ATV worked fine for a couple of days and then developed a series of white flashes the got progressively worse. After trying everything that I knew to try, I phoned Apple Technical support and they confirmed that I had done everything I could and authorized a replacement back at the Apple store.



    Well, it wasn't long after replacing the unit that I received a series of emails from Apple Technical Support requesting lots of information on what happened. This was followed up with a series of phone calls from another Apple tech group. As I had taken photos of the screen and had provided very detailed information on all models and s/n from all of my connected electronics (TV, stereo, etc.) they seemed quite happy.



    I don't think I've ever had this much attention for a returned product before. The new ATV is working perfectly!



    Well... at least they're really trying to track down problems. It sounds like you had an unknown or rare problem, so it's nice to know they took it seriously.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jack99 View Post


    Smart move on Apple's part. They probably caught wind of TSMC's 28nm fabrication issues, did the math, and figured out they'd get more consistent yields with Samsung through their 2nd generation 32nm process. Recent papers are even showing there's a strong possibility Samsung's Foundry operations may in actuality have lower costs than TSMC's.





    Seems to me the higher-ups at Apple are being pragmatic.



    Fabrication costs must be crazy with the ever shrinking dies. I have to wonder if it'll hit a point where one company can't afford it alone.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    jack99jack99 Posts: 157member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hmm View Post


    Fabrication costs must be crazy with the ever shrinking dies. I have to wonder if it'll hit a point where one company can't afford it alone.





    Either that, or one or more foundries will have to engineer another mind-blowing breakthrough in fabbing tech. All these papers published within the past 2 months alone are showing it's getting more and more expensive to go to lower nodes and profitability is taking longer to achieve.





    Samsung should be able to move up a couple of spots on the rankings for foundry revenues and get more business for 2012. But I have to wonder whether we'll see any foundries moving into the sub-20nm node in 2013 and beyond without encountering significant problems. Nvidia for sure will have to move its butt fast if it wants its 28nm A15 processors delivered in the event it's discovered TSMC hasn't fixed its 28nm teething problems.





    Now it's a contest to see who can figure out how to manufacture sub-20nm processors efficiently and on a massive scale. Whoever can get there first will most definitely catch Apple's eye.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    eric475eric475 Posts: 177member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jack99 View Post




    Samsung should be able to move up a couple of spots on the rankings for foundry revenues and get more business for 2012.



    Now it's a contest to see who can figure out how to manufacture sub-20nm processors efficiently and on a massive scale. Whoever can get there first will most definitely catch Apple's eye.



    I've heard rumors in Korea that Samsung's foundry revenue used to be about one-tenth of TSMC's revenues just a year or two ago but now they are growing at a much faster rate. When including $1 bln in 2011 chip sales to Apple, Samsung's foundry business is ranked 4th but falls to 9th when excluding Apple's business.



    It seems that Samsung is targeting TSMC. And when chip prices fall Samsung knows how to make money even when everyone else is bleeding red ink. Elpida knows this from competing with Samsung.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    philotechphilotech Posts: 102member
    What processors is Apple currently using?



    Current Models
    • iPad 3: A5X with dual core CPU, quad GPU and 1 GB RAM, Retina

    • iPhone 4S: A5 with dual core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB RAM, Retina

    • iPad 2: A5 with dual core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB RAM, Non-Retina

    • aTV (3rd Gen): A5 with single core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB, on 32nm process

    • iPhone 4: A4 with single core CPU, single core GPU and 512 MB RAM, Retina

    • iPod Touch 4G: A4 with single core CPU, single core GPU 256 MB RAM, Retina, slower clock speed



    Previous-Gen Models
    • iPad 1: as iPhone 4, only 256 MB RAM

    • aTV (2nd Gen): as iPhone 4, only 256 MB RAM

    • iPhone 3G: ARM Cortex A8 (single core), single core GPU and 256 MB RAM

    • iPod Touch 3G: as iPhone 3G, only 128 MB RAM (?), slower clock speed



    I think the A5X is a dead end, it's too big, to power-hungry and too hot. The iPad 4 will get a quad-core CPU (Apple A6), quad-core GPU made one a shrinked process (28/32nm), and remain at 1 GB RAM.



    The iPhone 5 will get a shrinked A5 (ie dual-core CPU and GPU on 28/32nm; and maybe some other slight improvements such as higher clock speed, improved CPU design or improved GPU, and definitely 1 GB RAM). Its most important advantage will be reduced power consumption to allow for the new iPhone 5 design and/or improved battery life. Only the iPhone 6 will also get the A6, but with dual-core graphics only.



    The iPod 5G should catch up with the iPhone 4S at least (if it will be released before the iPhone 5) or will also receive the shrinked A5 of the iPhone 5 (but with 512 MB RAM only), again with reduced clock speed, if it's being released alongside the iPhone 5.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Philotech View Post


    What processors is Apple currently using?



    Current Models
    • iPad 3: A5X with dual core CPU, quad GPU and 1 GB RAM, Retina

    • iPhone 4S: A5 with dual core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB RAM, Retina

    • iPad 2: A5 with dual core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB RAM, Non-Retina

    • aTV (3rd Gen): A5 with single core CPU, dual GPU and 512 MB, on 32nm process

    • iPhone 4: A4 with single core CPU, single core GPU and 512 MB RAM, Retina

    • iPod Touch 4G: A4 with single core CPU, single core GPU 256 MB RAM, Retina, slower clock speed



    Previous-Gen Models
    • iPad 1: as iPhone 4, only 256 MB RAM

    • aTV (2nd Gen): as iPhone 4, only 256 MB RAM

    • iPhone 3G: ARM Cortex A8 (single core), single core GPU and 256 MB RAM

    • iPod Touch 3G: as iPhone 3G, only 128 MB RAM (?), slower clock speed



    I think the A5X is a dead end, it's too big, to power-hungry and too hot. The iPad 4 will get a quad-core CPU (Apple A6), quad-core GPU made one a shrinked process (28/32nm), and remain at 1 GB RAM.



    The iPhone 5 will get a shrinked A5 (ie dual-core CPU and GPU on 28/32nm; and maybe some other slight improvements such as higher clock speed, improved CPU design or improved GPU, and definitely 1 GB RAM). Its most important advantage will be reduced power consumption to allow for the new iPhone 5 design and/or improved battery life. Only the iPhone 6 will also get the A6, but with dual-core graphics only.



    The iPod 5G should catch up with the iPhone 4S at least (if it will be released before the iPhone 5) or will also receive the shrinked A5 of the iPhone 5 (but with 512 MB RAM only), again with reduced clock speed, if it's being released alongside the iPhone 5.



    It seems you missed the memo... the iPhone 4S IS the iPhone "5"... as in FIFTH generation. If you're going to feed from the illiterate media, then you should also feed on the concept that the 3GS wasn't its own generation as well. In which case, the iPhone 4 was only the 3rd generation iPhone, but Apple called it the 4 for sh!ts & giggles. To say "4 comes after 3" only proves how stupid someone is. Wasn't the iPhone "3"G the SECOND generation? Think about it... Apple hasn't given a name to an iPhone that doesn't represent something. Why call the 6th generation iPhone the iPhone 5? It makes absolutely no sense. The iPhone 4 was named as such because it happened to be the FOURTH generation iPhone...



    The next iPhone, coming THIS YEAR, will be the SIXTH generation... So... Apple's going to call the iPhone that will come NEXT year the iPhone 6, but it'll be the SEVENTH generation?? Illiterates...



    STOP FEEDING THE ILLITERATE MEDIA!
  • Reply 16 of 25
    stelligentstelligent Posts: 2,680member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post


    It seems you missed the memo... the iPhone 4S IS the iPhone "5"... as in FIFTH generation. If you're going to feed from the illiterate media, then you should also feed on the concept that the 3GS wasn't its own generation as well. In which case, the iPhone 4 was only the 3rd generation iPhone, but Apple called it the 4 for sh!ts & giggles. To say "4 comes after 3" only proves how stupid someone is. Wasn't the iPhone "3"G the SECOND generation? Think about it... Apple hasn't given a name to an iPhone that doesn't represent something. Why call the 6th generation iPhone the iPhone 5? It makes absolutely no sense. The iPhone 4 was named as such because it happened to be the FOURTH generation iPhone...



    The next iPhone, coming THIS YEAR, will be the SIXTH generation... So... Apple's going to call the iPhone that will come NEXT year the iPhone 6, but it'll be the SEVENTH generation?? Illiterates...



    STOP FEEDING THE ILLITERATE MEDIA!



    If you're going call anyone illiterate, it might be wise to double-check your diatribe is well written - i.e. logical, grammatically correct and stylistically passable (if not impressive), etc. But that's just my opinion.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    philotechphilotech Posts: 102member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post


    It seems you missed the memo... the iPhone 4S IS the iPhone "5"... as in FIFTH generation. If you're going to feed from the illiterate media, then you should also feed on the concept that the 3GS wasn't its own generation as well. In which case, the iPhone 4 was only the 3rd generation iPhone, but Apple called it the 4 for sh!ts & giggles. To say "4 comes after 3" only proves how stupid someone is. Wasn't the iPhone "3"G the SECOND generation? Think about it... Apple hasn't given a name to an iPhone that doesn't represent something. Why call the 6th generation iPhone the iPhone 5? It makes absolutely no sense. The iPhone 4 was named as such because it happened to be the FOURTH generation iPhone...



    The next iPhone, coming THIS YEAR, will be the SIXTH generation... So... Apple's going to call the iPhone that will come NEXT year the iPhone 6, but it'll be the SEVENTH generation?? Illiterates...



    STOP FEEDING THE ILLITERATE MEDIA!



    You're missing the point completely, but never mind. Just go on live in your own personal world where you're the only one in the know about naming conventions and generations. Everyone assumes that Apple will likely drop their numbering / naming scheme for the iPhone this year so people like you can finally find their peace. For my post, I had to use some kind of reference nevertheless.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RedGeminiPA View Post


    STOP FEEDING THE ILLITERATE MEDIA!



    Who's feeding who in the what now?
  • Reply 19 of 25
    It really makes sense to test it on appleTV since, people will be less likely to complain if they got one or the other batches. If it was an iphone and some got 45 nm iphones and some got 32nm iphones that are "cooler", the 45nm crowd may not be so happy.



    Since AppleTV is not something you are touching or leaving in your pocket it wont be an issue.



    Dr. Clementine Orange
  • Reply 20 of 25
    shompashompa Posts: 340member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jack99 View Post


    Smart move on Apple's part. They probably caught wind of TSMC's 28nm fabrication issues, did the math, and figured out they'd get more consistent yields with Samsung through their 2nd generation 32nm process. Recent papers are even showing there's a strong possibility Samsung's Foundry operations may in actuality have lower costs than TSMC's.





    Seems to me the higher-ups at Apple are being pragmatic.



    TSMC 28 nm does not have a problem, beside its late.

    The best case scenario is that Apple dual sources its SoCs to TSMC and Samsung.

    As long as Apple uses Samsung, Samsung knows exactly what Apple will use for hardware in the next 18 months of products. That is one of the reasons why Samsung is successful today.



    The strange thing with all this is all the reports that Apple got back test wafers from TSMC at two times last year (June/October).



    There was a rumor that Apple spent a large part of its money on chip technology last year. That is backed up know by the multiple SoC designs Apple have on the table today.



    A4, A5, A5 single core, A5 32nm, A5X, A5X 32 and A6.
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