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Tuesday, September 25, 2012, 08:08 am PT (11:08 am ET)

Teardown of Apple's A6 processor finds 1GB RAM with 2 CPU & 3 GPU cores

A closer look at Apple's new A6 processor found in the iPhone 5 has found that the system-on-a-chip includes two CPU cores, three graphics processing units, and a full gigabyte of RAM.

A6


The teardown of the A6 chip was conducted via a collaboration between Chipworks and iFixit. They used an ion blaster to remove layers of silicon and find out exactly what's inside Apple's custom-made chip.

Under a microscope, they found that the device has a gigabyte of Elpida LP DDR2 SDRAM. That same RAM is also used in the recently released Motorola Droid Razr Maxx.

A6


The A6 chip itself was fabricated by Samsung via their 32-nanometer CMOS process. It measures 9.70 by 9.97 millimeters.

Though the A6 was manufactured by Samsung, it is the first chip custom designed by Apple, based on the ARMv7s instruction set. Apple's first-ever complete control of the design allowed the company to customize the performance as they chose.

A6


Inside the A6, the most prominent features are the dual ARM cores and the three PowerVR graphics chips. Chipworks found that the ARM processors are laid out manually, which can result in faster processing speeds but is also more expensive and time consuming to develop.

"The manual layout of the ARM processor lends much credence to the rumor that Apple designed a custom processor of the same caliber as the all-new Cortex-A15, and it just might be the only manual layout in a chip to hit the market in several years," iFixit said.

With their microscopes, Chipworks also took a look at who manufactures the cameras featured on the iPhone 5. They found that the rear 8-megapixel camera is manufactured by Sony, while the forward-facing FaceTime camera is built by Omnivision.