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Thursday, November 01, 2012, 06:31 pm PT (09:31 pm ET)

iPad mini's A5 chip confirmed to be built on Samsung's 32nm process

It was confirmed on Thursday that iPad mini is using the same A5 processor found in the fifth-generation iPod touch, meaning the SoC is built on Samsung's 32nm process first introduced in the refreshed iPad 2 and third-generation Apple TV.

A5 SoC in iPad mini

Apple's A-series chips. | Source: Chipworks


Chip analysis firm Chipworks took a closer look at the iPad mini's processor to see if Apple moved to an updated process as it did with the incremental iPad 2 revision in May, which saw a process change from 45nm to 32nm.

The firm noted in its report that Apple quietly changed the process in the A5 chip when it introduced the New iPad and its touted A5X SoC.

"Apple (likely) plays it this way because they don’t want people evaluating their products based on 'commodity' technical specifications, but based on the overall experience with the device," Chipworks wrote.

Based on the company's generational process changes, some speculated that the iPad mini would carry a third-generation A5 chip even more efficient than the 32nm version found in the iPad 2 and Apple TV. Chipworks discovered, however, that the tablet's SoC is the same 32nm component found in the most recent iPod touch.

"Basically, we put our device in for a cross section and the images show the same contacted gate pitch and the same high-k metal gates, so we are comfortable with this conclusion," the firm said, referring to Samsung's 32nm process.

The continued use of the legacy A5 chip may not come as a surprise to most, as Apple was said to be keeping component costs down in order to offer the mini at a relatively inexpensive price point.

Chipworks' in-depth look comes on the heels of iFixit's usual teardown which found the 7.9-inch tablet to share design cues and parts design with the iPhone 5.