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iPhone 5's A6 said to be dual-core Cortex-A15

updated 01:56 pm EDT, Thu September 13, 2012

A6 makes iPhone 5 among first devices to ship with A15

The A6 processor Apple showed off yesterday in revealing the iPhone 5 is said by some analysts to be a Samsung-produced dual-core Cortex-A15. EETimes cites analysts at Nomura Equity Research in claiming that the device was manufactured using Samsung's 32-nm HKMG process, making Apple among the first device manufacturers to introduce a processor based on ARM's low-power Cortex-A15 design, which was introduced two years ago.

Apple provided few technical specifications on the chip powering the new iPhone, opting instead to focus on broader descriptions of its performance, but those performance details appear to match what analysts would expect out of a device with the Cortex-A15 at its core.

If indeed the iPhone 5 contains a Cortex-A15, its A6 chip is likely based on Samsung's Exynos 5250 design. Samsung began testing the Exynos 5250 late in 2011, and the design had been expected to begin shipping in volume in the summer of this year. The Exynos 5250 has a 2GHz clock frequency and is said to double the performance of the previous Exynos, which was based on the 1.5GHz Cortex-A9. In detailing the iPhone 5's internals, Apple pointed out that the A6 chip provided twice the CPU and graphics performance of the A5x that powered the iPhone 4S.

by MacNN Staff



  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    2 GHz is a pretty high frequency for a smartphone. I wonder if the iPhone will get toasty when playing games. The media will be all over that as a being some problem. I wonder how well it compares with the Exynos Quad that the Galaxy S III is using in terms of battery life.

  1. P


    Joined: 04-07-00

    Apple said that the A6 in the iPhone 4 is twice the speed of the A5@800MHz in the iPhone 4S. If Samsung says that the Exynos 5250@2 GHz is twice the speed of a dualcore A9@1.5 GHz earlier Exynos, this means that you need to pump the clockspeed by 33% to get twice the performance. A little math puts the A6 in the iPhone at just over 1.06 GHz - assuming that everything else is equal, which we're already almost sure it isn't (the A6 should at least have the same memory bandwidth as the A5X, which is twice that of the A5). With a full node shrink, a clockspeed boost of 33% at similar power is not unreasonable if you've implemented some clever sleep states and kept the voltage down. To be honest I think that something is fishy here, and that Apple has revved the clockspeed considerably higher than 1 GHz if they really have twice the CPU performance, but we'll see. If they go to 1.2 GHz, that's 50% performance boost over the A5 without even considering the IPC improvements, and there are many phones out there that run at more than 1.2 GHz. I don't think they'd go anywhere near 2 GHz, though.

  1. Eug

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 12-09-00

    Others are guessing 1.4 to 1.5 GHz.

    That seems rather optimistic to me. I wonder what the truth will be, but it certainly won't be 2 GHz.

    However, whatever it is, I'd probably be happy with the performance. I'm on a single-core 800 MHz A4 Cortex A8 right now, and going to a dual-core 1.x GHz A15 would be enormous boost in performance, not just because of dual-core, but also because it's just so much faster clock-for-clock.

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