Apple getting its A7 chip from Samsung

Apple has been getting its chips "fabbed" by Samsung for years. That hasn't changed with the A7.

Editors' note: This story was originally published on September 20, 2013 at 12:13 PM PDT. It has been updated throughout.
Apple

Apple is getting its A7 processor from Samsung, as expected .

By "decapping" the A7, Chipworks has verified that the A7 is manufactured by Samsung, according to iFixit, which has been working hand in hand with Chipworks to tear down the iPhone 5S .

There had been some speculation that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) would make the chip, but that likely won't happen until Apple's A8, or whatever comes next.

Apple has moved to a more advanced 28-nanometer manufacturing process from the previous 32-nanometer tech, according to Chipworks. Generally, the smaller the geometries, the more advanced the process, allowing more transistors to be packed into the equivalent or a smaller die area.

Anandtech speculates that a Chipworks die photo (below) shows a dual-core A7 central processing unit (yellow border) and the lower-right reveals "four replicated blocks with some shared logic in between" (light blue border) -- which is the "4-cluster" PowerVR G6430 graphics processing unit (GPU) from Imagination Technologies.

The M7 co-processor -- separate from the A7 -- is from NXP.

The M7 is a "sidekick" to the A7 chip, according to Apple. It's designed to measure motion data from the accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass.

Chipworks also confirmed that the 8MP camera sensor is a "stacked" Sony Exmor-RS sensor, as iFixit reported last night.

Die photo of A7: Anandtech speculates that blocks within the yellow border comprise the dual-core Apple A7 CPU.
Die photo of A7: Anandtech speculates that blocks within the yellow border comprise the dual-core Apple A7 CPU. Chipworks with highlighted areas via Anandtech.
Apple's A7 is the first 64-bit ARM processor to land in a smartphone.
Apple's A7 is the first 64-bit ARM processor to land in a smartphone. CNET
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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