Earlier this week, MacRumors opened up the newly tweaked Apple TV to find a smaller A5 chip, not the A5X they had been expecting. Now Chipworks and Silicon-IP have been doing some investigating into the innards of the updated device.
…we’ve been talking with chip experts at Chipworks and Silicon-IP about the possibilities and have confirmed that, unlike in the previous Apple TV, this even smaller A5 does not use a stacked chip design involving the DRAM. We were unable to identify the chip to the left of the A5 in our unit due to illegible markings, but Chipworks has cracked open another unit and discovered Elpida DRAM in that location.
Even though it’s been reported that Apple would like to wean itself off of Samsung for A-series chip production, it looks like it hasn’t quite been able to make that move as of yet. The new smaller A5 is still coming out of the Samsung factory.
The die size of the new A5 is 6.1 mm x 6.2 mm, just over half the size of the 8.19 mm by 8.68 mm die in the previous version, and less than a third the size of the original A5 which debuted in the iPad 2 two years ago.
Chipworks has confirmed that the new A5 chip uses the same 32-nanometer process seen on the previous generation, meaning that the smaller chip is truly a new device, and not simply a die-shrink of the earlier design.
The Apple TV isn’t high-volume enough to justify the creation of a new chip solely for its use, so it’s possible this A5 could be used in a rumored low-cost iPhone, or the next-generation of the iPod touch. Apple made a similar move with the 32-nanometer A5 last year, debuting it in the Apple TV and tweaked iPad 2 before going large scale with it in the iPad mini and iPod touch later.