Apple's new A6 iPhone 5 appears to be first ARM Cortex A15 phone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
While Apple hasn't revealed much technical detail of the specifications behind iPhone 5 and its components, its new A6 processor is reportedly using next generation ARM Cortex A15 cores, making it the first to market with the technology.

According to a report by Anand Lal Shimpi of Anandtech, the performance gains Apple reported for the new A6 chip and other factors means that "it looks like Apple has integrated two ARM Cortex A15 cores on Samsung's 32nm LP HK+MG process."

The site added, "This is a huge deal because it means Apple beat both TI and Samsung on bringing A15s to market."

Previous generations of the Apple-designed chips used in iOS devices used ARM Cortex-A8 (the iPad / iPhone 4 A4) and Cortex-A9 (iPad 2 / iPhone 4S A5) processor cores. The Cortex-A15 is the next major jump for the ARM architecture, which calls the core "the highest-performance licensable processor the industry has ever seen."



Apple's A-chips

It would not be unusual for Apple to leapfrog the industry in commissioning an advanced new processor. In 2010 it debuted the then-new iPad with its A4, which used "FastCore" technology Apple acquired via Intrinsity to deliver a faster clocked implementation of ARM's standard Cortex-A8 core.

"We have a chip called A4," Jobs announced when showing the new iPad. "which is our most advanced chip we've ever done that powers the iPad. It's got the processor, the graphics, the I/O, the memory controller -- everything in this one chip, and it screams."

The next year, Apple released iPad 2 with the new dual core A5, and Steve Jobs referred to it as the "first dual core tablet to ship in volume," a claim ridiculed by bloggers even thought it remained the only tablet to ship in any meaningful volumes throughout the rest of the year.



RIM attempted to make "dual core" features a key aspect of its PlayBook tablet strategy, which was built upon a Texas Instruments OMAP 4 chip. Motorola also focused attention on its dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 chip powering the Android 3.0 Honeycomb Xoom tablet and its Atrix smartphone.

By the end of last year, the tablet wars ended with Apple's iPad 2 unscathed. Rather than delivering an entirely new processor core for its next iPad, Apple gave it the A5X, a variant of the A5 equipped with quad core graphics and twice the RAM to power its new Retina Display with four times the pixels. The A5X chip continued to use the same 45nm manufacturing process as earlier A4 and A5 chips.

Apple custom Ax chips are fabricated by Samsung, which has historically produced a similar version of its own, albeit typically using different graphics cores and other variations. Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual pairs two ARM Cortex A15 cores with two ARM Mali GPU cores, while Apple's A6 likely uses the same quad core SGX543MP4 GPUs as the new iPad's A5X.



If the new A6 uses Samsung's more advanced 32nm process, it would explain how the much faster chip retains an 8 hour battery lifespan while packing on faster processors and LTE support, as well as how it could possibly be 22 percent smaller than the A5 as Apple said during the keynote.

In addition to Samsung's Exynos 5, TI's OMAP 5 series and Nvidia's Tegra 4 also use ARM Cortex-A15 cores. Broadcom and LG have also announced plans to license ARM's Cortex A15 cores. Qualcomm's S4 Snapdragon also implements a "Krait" architecture similar to the Cortex-A15.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 102
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,425member
    Shhh... don't say anything about Apple being ahead of the Android players. The Fandroids infesting this forum still believe the iP5 to be nothing more than a "spec bump".
  • Reply 2 of 102
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


    My God man.  Finally its a dual core.  I was wondering if this was a quad core or dual core.  Being that Apple never mentioned it being a quad core I assumed it was a dual core.  Yet there will be some here who will insult me and say I am lame or something for not catching the information of the A6 processor.  ANd what do I have to say to them.  Well go suck a lemon.

  • Reply 3 of 102


    This is all speculation for now, there is no proof until someone like iFixit disassembles and X-ray scans it.

  • Reply 4 of 102
    kpomkpom Posts: 616member
    @Tylerk36, it may be dual core, but the architecture is superior. It's sort of like comparing a Core 2 Quad with a dual-core Ivy Bridge.
  • Reply 5 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jason98 View Post


    This is all speculation for now, there is no proof until someone like iFixit disassembles and X-ray scans it.



     


    There's not a photo of the transistors, but that's why the article supports it with other evidence and a very credible source

  • Reply 6 of 102
    Samsung has the exact chip listed on its website. I wouldnt exactly call it beating samsung since samsung did make it. They just gave them priority over its own phones.

  • Reply 7 of 102
    I wouldn't say its the exact chip, it may have dual A15's on it but Apple owns the IP for the power saving etc from Intrincity. If Samsung make the exact chip that they OEM for Apple, that would be a big lawsuit.

  • Reply 8 of 102
    The dual core / quad core argument means nothing. What resonates are things like better battery life, improved graphics performance, lighter, 8 hr LTE browsing etc...
  • Reply 9 of 102
    Priority ??? They didn't design it into their GS3 architecture. Apple started the work with the A15 prototypes last year. Samsung wont be bringing an A15 to market until 2013.
  • Reply 10 of 102
    postulant wrote: »
    The dual core / quad core argument means nothing. What resonates are things like better battery life, improved graphics performance, lighter, 8 hr LTE browsing etc...

    Tell that to the swarm of android users..like a bunch o annoying flies..

    Oh 8mp? That's so 2010, oh 4 inch screens? So last year, we had LTE years ago, blah blah blah...Apple is just copying android in features now...

    Lol geez my Facebook feed is just blowin up with that crap.
  • Reply 11 of 102
    12:00AM EST this Friday the 14th, can't come fast enough.

    Pre-ordering TWO of this BEAUTIFUL 64GB iPhone's, ...in Black, of course.
  • Reply 12 of 102
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,425member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flash_beezy View Post





    Tell that to the swarm of android users..like a bunch o annoying flies..

    Oh 8mp? That's so 2010, oh 4 inch screens? So last year, we had LTE years ago, blah blah blah...Apple is just copying android in features now...

    Lol geez my Facebook feed is just blowin up with that crap.


     


    Include NFC, induction charging, etc... things that apparently the freetards believe is a "must have" but in reality no one uses.  Fandroids keep slinging the same tired old cr4p in the hopes something sticks to the wall.



    And now add to that the dual-core/quad-core argument.  They will just continue making themselves look that much more stupid thinking that's even important anymore.  Case in point - An iPhone with technically "old" single/dual-core CPU's still perform better in everyday usability tasks than a modern quad-core Android phone.  Try doing simple scrolling on an Android phone without it sputtering.  Shameful.  They even deny the performance problems in light of Android's project "Butter" which supposedly address that very problem that fandroids harped was never a problem to begin with!  How's that for them sucking down their own brand of Kool-aid?!



     

  • Reply 13 of 102
    Tell that to the swarm of android users..like a bunch o annoying flies..
    Oh 8mp? That's so 2010, oh 4 inch screens? So last year, we had LTE years ago, blah blah blah...Apple is just copying android in features now...
    Lol geez my Facebook feed is just blowin up with that crap.

    I hear ya man... People are funny. I always hear that Apple is falling behind the competition due to the omission of certain specs. Apple has the deepest pockets in the industry. If anyone can deliver a 4.8" screen or a quad core processor for the sake of it, it's Apple. Yet, Apple chooses to blaze new trails... And they do it with confidence. I love it.
  • Reply 14 of 102

    Quote:


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    While Apple hasn't revealed much technical detail of the specifications behind iPhone 5 and its components, its new A6 processor is reportedly using next generation ARM Cortex A15 cores, making it the first to market with the technology.




    According to a report by Anand Lal Shimpi of Anandtech, the performance gains Apple reported for the new A6 chip and other factors means that "it looks like Apple has integrated two ARM Cortex A15 cores on Samsung's 32nm LP HK+MG process."...


     


    ... Samsung's Exynos 5 Dual pairs two ARM Cortex A15 cores with two ARM Mali GPU cores, while Apple's A6 likely uses the same quad core SGX543MP4 GPUs as the new iPad's A5X...


     


    ... Samsung's Exynos 5, TI's OMAP 5 series and Nvidia's Tegra 4 also use ARM Cortex-A15 cores. Broadcom and LG have also announced plans to license ARM's Cortex A15 cores. Qualcomm's S4 Snapdragon also implements a "Krait" architecture similar to the Cortex-A15.



    If it's true Apple is using Cortex A15 cores, how are they first when Samsung, TI, and Nvidia are all using them too? This article contradicts itself...

  • Reply 15 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post



    Samsung has the exact chip listed on its website. I wouldnt exactly call it beating samsung since samsung did make it. They just gave them priority over its own phones.


    I get so tired of this being regurgitated.  The A series of chips are not samsungs and no samsung does not have this exact chip on there website if they did they would be sued and loose.


    The only thing in common with samsungs Exynos 5 chips are that they both start with the arm cores.  Other than that the a4, a5 and a6 have not one thing in common with samsungs Exynos 5.  Apple uses different graphics engine Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU. Samsung uses two ARM Mali GPU cores licensed to them from arm.  The A6 is the first to use the arm cortex a15 cores in a smart phone and there inherently faster than the cortex a9 in the a5.  Both samsung and apple license the rights to use the arm cores from arm.  The both then build and add custom parts to there chips to make them unique.  Arm is a company that licenses there tech to people like apple and samsung. Imagination Technologies does the same as well.


     


    The only thing samsung does with the A4, A5, and A6 is manufacture them they have nothing to do with there design nor do they own any part of Apple A series chips design.  Apple owns them period.

  • Reply 16 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by d4rkriver View Post


    If it's true Apple is using Cortex A15 cores, how are they first when Samsung, TI, and Nvidia are all using them too? This article contradicts itself...



    They are the first to implement them in a smart phone.  I believe that is what the article said.


     


    Edit:  Just did some checking the Galaxy S III from samsung uses cortex a9 cores.  Samsungs next processor the Exynos 5 will use the Cortex a15s from arm.


    so the article is correct apple is the first to implement the faster cortex a15 cores in there new iphone 5.

  • Reply 17 of 102
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by KPOM View Post



    @Tylerk36, it may be dual core, but the architecture is superior. It's sort of like comparing a Core 2 Quad with a dual-core Ivy Bridge.


    Ok but still I was wondering about how many cores because originally about a year back I heard the A6 was a quad core based CPU.  So when I heard that the A6 was in this phone i assumed the # of cores was 4.  I was hoping the # of cores was 4 because samsung released their phone with a quad core processor.  But thank you for setting things straight.

  • Reply 18 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


     


    Include NFC, induction charging, etc... things that apparently the freetards believe is a "must have" but in reality no one uses.  Fandroids keep slinging the same tired old cr4p in the hopes something sticks to the wall.



    And now add to that the dual-core/quad-core argument.  They will just continue making themselves look that much more stupid thinking that's even important anymore.  Case in point - An iPhone with technically "old" single/dual-core CPU's still perform better in everyday usability tasks than a modern quad-core Android phone.  Try doing simple scrolling on an Android phone without it sputtering.  Shameful.  They even deny the performance problems in light of Android's project "Butter" which supposedly address that very problem that fandroids harped was never a problem to begin with!  How's that for them sucking down their own brand of Kool-aid?!



     



    "You're scrolling it wrong."

  • Reply 19 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by d4rkriver View Post


    If it's true Apple is using Cortex A15 cores, how are they first when Samsung, TI, and Nvidia are all using them too? This article contradicts itself...



     


    They're sampling or still in design. That's not the same as shipping in a production device.


     


    One reason Apple can ship first is that is a new, expensive part and Apple can afford to put it in a device that is guaranteed to sell, and reuse less functional parts as Apple TV/iPod chips. Samsung, for example, does't have a flagship phone that sells in the same quantities, and doesn't have an equivalent to the iPod touch or Apple TV. It doesn't even use the same chips across its smartphone lines. Of course, it doesn't even use the same OS across its smartphone lines. 


     


    Nvidia and TI are also suppling a bunch of products that either sell in the 100k volumes (like the Xoom and PlayBook) or have to be really cheap Nexus 7. 


     


    So Apple has the luxury of selling known large volumes of relatively expensive devices. 


     


    When you don't understand something, don't assume the article is wrong and that everyone else in the world is stupid. 

  • Reply 20 of 102

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mechanic View Post


    They are the first to implement them in a smart phone.  I believe that is what the article said.



    Actually, no, the article doesn't plainly state that. The article says Apple is first to market with the ARM Cortex A15 cores. If it meant first smartphone to market, they should've said that. Also, the article muddies the waters by highlighting what the iPad SoCs are as well, so the article doesn't strictly stick to smartphone CPUs.


     


    Also, while hoping the use of newer tech is true, the article points to no evidence of Apple actually using the newer core architecture. It just points to an article by Anantech which is only speculating because of what Apple vaguely said about performance vs previous A5 chips.


     


    If this turns out not to be true, it'll be more dung in the face from non-Apple users that have a need to feel superior.

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