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3/13/2011
10:33 AM
Fritz Nelson
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iPad 2 A5 Chip Teardown Reveals Samsung Fab, Advanced Power Management

The new dual core A5 chip inside the iPad 2 is very fast, but as always, Apple isn't very forthcoming on its origin. UBM TechInsights dissected the chip and found it to be a Samsung fab. TechInsights also provided a cost breakdown of all the iPad 2 components.
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Speculation about the fabrication source of the iPad 2's A5 dual core processor can now end. It wasn't new fab partner TSMC, but Samsung, according to UBM TechInsights, whose lab and process analysis team dissected the chip using optical die and SEM cross-section images to analyze various factors, like the chip's die edge seal, metal 1 pitch, logic and SRAM transistor gate measurements. In comparing the findings to others in the TechInsights database, the clear match was Samsung, using its 45nm process. Samsung's 45nm fab process also produced the A4 processor found in the original iPad.The A5 was said to support Low Power DDR2 DRAM memory and tests confirmed this.

UBM TechInsights performed the first iPad 2 3G teardown just 24 hours earlier.

Moreover, teardowns performed at two UBM TechInsights locations (Austin and Ottawa) revealed two different LPDDR2 DRAM from two different manufacturers (Samsung and Elpida). The Samsung K4P2G324EC LPDDR2 die could be the first appearance of Samsung's new 46nm LPDDR2 memory. The findings also tell us that Apple is fully prepared to package multiple LPDDR2 offerings.

Finally, IO Snoops also found that while the iPad A4 chip's clock speed was steady at 1 GHz, the iPad 2 A5 chip's clock speed varies depending on the application it is running. This indicates an advanced power management circuitry controlling the clock speeds of the cores -- something new for the A5, and it may explain the use of a different power management integrated circuit (IC) from Dialog Semiconductor.

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