A6 is Apple’s first with custom-designed CPU cores; iPhone 5 memory size and speed revealed

“Quick analysis of the A6 SoC photos from the iPhone 5 launch event tells us all we need to know about the memory interface, speed and bandwidth of the new platform,” Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug report for AnandTech.

“Apple thankfully didn’t obscure the details of its A6 slide at the launch event, which gave us a Samsung part number: K3PE7E700F-XGC2,” Lal Shimpi and Klug report. “The K3P tells us we’re looking at a dual-channel LPDDR2 package with 32-bit channels. The E7E7 gives us the density of each of the two DRAM die (512MB per die, 1GB total). The final two characters in the part number give us the cycle time/data rate, which in this case is 1066MHz.”

Read more in the full article here.

In a related reports, Anand Lal Shimpi explains further, “Given Apple’s reliance on fully licensed ARM cores in the past, the expected performance gains and unpublishable information that started all of this I concluded Apple’s A6 SoC likely featured two ARM Cortex A15 cores.”

“It turns out I was wrong. But pleasantly surprised,” Lal Shimpi reports. “The A6 is the first Apple SoC to use its own ARMv7 based processor design. The CPU core(s) aren’t based on a vanilla A9 or A15 design from ARM IP, but instead are something of Apple’s own creation… I should probably give Apple’s CPU team more credit in the future.”

Apple A6 processor
Apple A6 processor

Lal Shimpi reports, “This is a huge deal for Apple. It puts the company in another league when it comes to vertical integration. The risks are higher (ARM’s own designs are tested and proven across tons of different devices/platforms) but the payoff is potentially much greater.”

Much more in the full article here.

48 Comments

    1. AT&T has lost me too! Screw you AT&T and your bullying policies about what hurdles I have to jump to be allowed to use FaceTime over cell. It’s my damn data. You count the data and leave the deciding how to use it to ME. When you start deciding what apps I can use or not because you don’t approve of my choice of how to use my purchased data allowance you are crossing a line that I think should be not legal and is certainly NOT COOL. So go take a long walk off a short pier. I’m glad to switch to Verizon.

      1. Isn’t that the point. Although they give you a data balance, for some of us, unlimited, they actually don’t want you to use any of it or as little as possible. Sure they “have” to rase the bandwidth to meet communication standards. However that just means you burn through their accounted allotment, all the faster.

        So what do they do? Install artificial barriers to slow you down or keep you within the data allotment they had planned.

        Mostly you are blind to this limit, and so they hit you with this very real stick, every time you step over the invisible line.

        All providers do this though. Verizon’s hidden line is just a little further out. Also if you want to upgrade you have to drop your unlimited plan. But since you are switching now, you don’t get unlimited, ever.

        1. Since they would throttle me at 3GB, and 5 of us had unlimited plans but never went over 3GBs each anyway (having a lot of wifi access), I switched to a 15GB shared data plan (probably could do 10 instead). The asst mgr at AT&T hooked me up. I got 5 phones, 3 iPads on the plan,and save money.

          Also, I discovered that tethering is included with the shared data plans too (on iPhones only, not iPads so far) which has come in handy when I’ve needed my Mac on the road.

          I was hesitant to switch from the unlimited plans, but I’m actually glad I finally did it!

        2. I was going to note just that. All carriers throttle us down when we reach their invisible line. I rather stay with AT&T, which I had a problem with up until recently. They always hit me with extra charges, and I had to call every couple of months to get my bill in order. Since about 4 months ago, that totally stopped, and I’ve been paying less than what I estimated I would. Not sure what happened there.

          The most important thing is why I stay with AT&T is the ability and freedom to use data and voice simultaneously. I think this is very important, because anyone who uses the iPhone often has to search for stuff or check stuff on the Web while conversing on the phone.

          “Let’s go to the movies!”
          “Ok, let’s check what’s available!”

          “Can you help me find this address or tell me where to go or how to get to such and such place please?”
          “Sure, let me check in my Maps app!”

          “Hows Apple’s stock doing now?”
          “Let me check Bloomberg!”

          “I just sent you an email. Could you read it and tell me what you think?”
          “Sure, I can see it coming in right now, and it’s loading the graphs and pictures you sent!”

          “Wanna play Scramble With Friends?”
          “Of course, but let’s do it while we talk on the phone!”

          “Wanna go eat somewhere?”
          “Yeah! Why don’t you check Zagat while I check Urbanspoon to see where we can go!”

          I think of this feature as crucial.

      2. Actually my main reason for switching is because I can’t get coverage in my workplace. I have to go outside just to make a phone call while everyone on Verizon can use 4G. We normally have no issues with AT&T and my wife doesn’t want to switch since she talked a lot of family members into going AT&T, plus the rollover minutes are nice. But since I pay the bill we are moving. What ticks me off is I know several people who recently signed on with Verizon and they got 4GB of data for the price of 2GB. I just knew I’d get screwed, but I gotta do it.

    2. Have fun on Verizon, where you won’t be able to use data while on the phone. Check maps while talking to your wife -nope. Book a reservation while talking to a customer – nope.

      At least here in Austin, AT&T is the clear choice, IMHO.

      1. Smart Pirate we have here. Let me repost a comment I just made:

        The most important thing is why I stay with AT&T is the ability and freedom to use data and voice simultaneously. I think this is very important, because anyone who uses the iPhone often has to search for stuff or check stuff on the Web while conversing on the phone.

        “Let’s go to the movies!”
        “Ok, let’s check what’s available!”

        “Can you help me find this address or tell me where to go or how to get to such and such place please?”
        “Sure, let me check in my Maps app!”

        “Hows Apple’s stock doing now?”
        “Let me check Bloomberg!”

        “I just sent you an email. Could you read it and tell me what you think?”
        “Sure, I can see it coming in right now, and it’s loading the graphs and pictures you sent!”

        “Wanna play Scramble With Friends?”
        “Of course, but let’s do it while we talk on the phone!”

        “Wanna go eat somewhere?”
        “Yeah! Why don’t you check Zagat while I check Urbanspoon to see where we can go!”

        I think of this feature as crucial. Anyone on Sprint or Verizon would say:

        “Sure, let’s hang up so I can check and I’ll get back to you ASAP!”

        1. I have had Verizon for about 8 years now and have had a total of about 4 conversations where it was a problem that I couldn’t access data while I talked. Just my 2 cents

      2. That’s great and all, but I think having a signal is better yet

        In some areas, like here in North Central Ohio, AT&T coverage is spotty at best and – I tell you no lie – we just got 3G a few weeks ago.

        I’m switching to Verizon which covers our area like a blanket.

    3. Sorry. Going bassackwards to Verizon and its “I still can’t do such a rudimentary function such as simultaneous voice and data” won’t cut it for us non-haters.

      Even today, with LTE and Verizon, I’d have to hang up on a customer in order to get a quote and respond via the web.

      How quaint!

  1. Very cool. It sure took them a long time, didn’t it? I imagine they developed something very extendable. From now on we’ll probably be seeing a new Apple designed chip each generation. I love this direction for them.

    So glad to see them taking their time to make things just work, like with the earbuds, chips, even iPhone (didn’t they have it in development for something five years?)

    Just wish they could make liquid metal work and be cost effective sooner. I’m thinking they won’t be on to lqmt for two to four years, maybe is, when items are so thin (cardboard thin?) that aluminum won’t do the job.

  2. I hold every bet that Apples A6 is a derivate of Samsungs Exynox 4 Cortex A9 QuadCore design. Cortex A7 makes no sense at all, because this architekture is much too fresh for mass produktion and the core is not built for performance but for maximum power efficiency.
    Maybe we will see a Cortex A7 core in 2013 with the next generation Apple A7 chips, but only in tandem with Cortex A15 in a bigLITTLE design. Cortex A15 will take all performance tasks and Cortex A7 is busy in idle mode.

    1. No. Just no. The A6 is not a spin off of Exynox. They will never put 2 Ax’s in a device. That is just stupid. That’s like putting an i3 and an i7 in the same computer. Ridiculous.

      1. You cant compare a Cortex A7 with in Intel i3, its is more like a INTEL ATOM Chip and that´s why it is ridiculous to think that Apple can do some magic and make this core a performance wonder.
        Before you call an idea stupid do your homework and google for ” ARM bigLITTLE” and you will see that this approach offers you the best of both worlds, Cortex A15 for maximum performance and Cortex A7 for maximum power efficiency in idle mode – but for sure not before 2013.

    2. Where did the A7 come from? There’s no mention of it anywhere. The only thing I can think of that comes close to that, is ARMv7. Which is not a CPU core, it’s an ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). All Cortex-A cores are based off of that ISA. Xcode now supports a second architecture; ARMv7s, which could lead one to assume that it is a custom architecture. Furthermore, this new ISA has support for VFPv4 (floating point unit) which is not found on the A9.

      So with those findings, we can assume Apple has custom A15 cores on the A6.

  3. The article states A6 is Apple’s own design built on an ARM infrastructure, it is not an A15 or any other shipping or yet to ship ARM “retail” configuration. It is a chip configured to do what Apple needs given its hardware and software. Direct comparisons, regardless of number or cores, processor speed, etc. will likely be meaningless. Only thing that might be compared is user experience.

    1. Easy now, love your iPhone yes, but it fails to blow any one of the top end Androids away and from what we can see Windows Phone is also upping the ante with the Nokia 920.

      I ordered 1 16 white and a 64 black so easy on the aggression. My point is if iPhone flips your switch than great, but it odes not blow anyone away.

      1. problem is… It’s has been proven that even with higher “specs” android still comes up short on performance.

        Next week or so we will see head to head hands on tests. And I bet android won’t be on top 😉

        1. Good point and indeed iOS was a far more efficient OS prior to Android IC and JB. You are right in suggesting that we will see how all this works out once they benchmark both.

          One thing is clear, Apple ridding themselves of Samsung will be a trek for sure as they continue to have a large footprint even in the iPhone 5.

      2. And yet you ordered two, which is a bit baffling as most people would not spend that much money on stuff that didn’t impress them. Apple thanks you!

        Apart from the exquisite design – a no-brainer for anybody who has taste – iPhone 5 does seem to blow away those who go beyond silly spec lists and actually take the time to understand what went into the process of making it, as I’ve discovered by listening to several comprehensive tech podcasts in the last couple of days. This news about the A6 chip is just more music to our ears =D

      3. I saw on another forum tonight a query regarding Galaxy phones cracking around the camera, the person asking if anyone else there had this reported problem, as his Galaxy had three cracks showing.
        What you get when you buy cheap plastic crap, eh, Pat.

        1. Just a thought, if we’re talking about cracking phones should we really be looking anywhere but at the 4S? I mean the glass splintered if it was dropped in any way. Every iPhone owner knew they needed a $40 case just to make sure they could use the thing. Just a thought

  4. Apple is committing ever more to custom total integration and as time goes on will integrate even more functions in fewer chips and doe their own SOC designs and make the overall power efficiencies and functionality better.

    It is going to be ever tougher for competitors to keep up unless they invest very heavily. That is going to mash down the number of high end smartphone competitors to a handful by my best guess.

    I predict this will also lead to a reduced smaller size “semi-smartphone” for those who don’t really want web browsing on their smart phone. Email, SMS, voice and some camera functions are enough for people who carry an iPad-Tablet or Laptop.

    Apple introduced multiple laptops, looks like it will do so with iPads and thus I see an additional iPhone model.

    1. The problem with takes like yours is that assumptions are that only Apple has the ability to do the things you speak of? There have been a lot of headlines around the world that suggests that Apple should be careful what it wished for as Samsung Group could very easily become their Waterloo if the 2 truly become enemies. Samsung Group (which Samsung Electronics) is just a small part of can no doubt attract great talent and go after Apple with a take no prisoners approach.

      Apple does well because of their affiliation with Samsung and Samsung’s ability to provide quality components in mass volume. Let’s see how well Sharp and LG do with the displays for the iPhone 5 in terms of meeting supply chain demands and quality.

      1. Hey Pat,

        Read my lips, Apple can easily survive without Samsung. If they can produce their own processors now, the rest would be extrememly easy in comparison. Let me make that perfectly clear!

      2. Samsung has a lot of stroke in Korea.

        Not quite as much stroke as The USA, but a lot.

        If it comes down to a direct attack aimed at America’s largest company, Samsung will come out second.

      3. Clearly it remains to be seen exactly how well Sharp and JG actually perform when required to deliver the immense volume and high quality required by Apple, but you can be pretty sure that Apple will be doing all it can to make sure that they get there.

        Taking a slightly longer term view, Samsung will have to watch Sharp and LG transforming into powerful rivals, with cutting edge expertise in making advanced display panels in vast volumes.

        Losing of Apple as a major customer is a problem for Samsung, but having rivals developing into major players is a much bigger problem for Samsung.

        I think that we will be seeing more examples of Apple nurturing other companies so that they can replace Samsung as component suppliers for Apple’s future products.

        Samsung used to be in a position where they were the first choice supplier of components for Apple. Losing a huge contract is one thing, but seeing your rivals becoming significantly strengthened is quite another.

  5. pat is just too stupid to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If you hate apple so much that you see nothing good in its products,then,just do yourself a favour by jumping at a moving train

  6. I appreciate the the problem of not being able to use data functions when on a call if your provider is Sprint or Verizon. AT&T’s advantage won’t last long. The iPhone 5 is going to force Verizon to speed up it’s plans to implement voice calls over LTE (VoLTE). Once they do that AT&T will be in trouble unless it improves. I love competition!!!

  7. Both Verizon sales and Apple telephone tech support reps — AND their respective supervisors — told me Verizon will add support for VoLTE before the end of the year and that simulatenous voice/data (on LTE only) will be supported by the iPhone 5 as soon as this upgrade comes.

    Can anyone else verify this?

  8. The Anand Crew has gone off their rockers and need to be castrated for putting out all this bogus information ahead of actual benchmarking of iPhone 5. All they’re doing is getting the quick sell customers more excited.

    While people that had already intended to buy something else will do so anyway. Real people just don’t care about this stuff. They fall for hardcore commercialized information over secrecy and hidden agendas!

    Why is this Wrong? Simple! If…. A6 actually had two A15 chip cores powering it, Apple would have announced iPhone 5 as having USB 3.0 Speeds. Along with mentioning (like every other phone maker is) that A15 has Hardware Virtualization features. So where’s iBootcamp, so we can run WP8, Windows 8, Ubuntu, Linux and Android simultaneously on our future iPad and iPhones?

    Look up “Hardware Virtualization ARM A15” and it’ll tell you all about it or watch this quick video. Now one thing that’s important to remember is that ARM has stipulated the use of 2gig LPDDR2 ram or using Samsung’s latest LPDDR3 20nm process 1gig module in a PoP (package on package). For USB 3.0 support, the port connector must use standard 5 pin Micro USB for backwards compatibility. Meaning, Apple would have to use an adapter from this new asinine proprietary port connector for USB 3.0 speeds.

    Compare this chip to Samsung’s Exynos 5 Dual 5250 and this A6 is a monster. Even though it’s fabricated on the same 32nm Process as all other Exynos chips and Apple’s own A5 and A5x. Consider that if this A6 is designed on Exynos, it can’t be Exynos 5250 Dual A15’s (smaller than A9) and the dual core Mali 604 chip.

    In reality A6 compares to Samsung’s Quadcore Exynos in current International GSIII. Because iOS is just not ready for Multi-screen, USB 3.0 or Hardware Virtualization, when OS X has yet to have Touchscreen features itself!!!

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