Still together: New analysis finds Samsung A7 inside iPhone 5S

Apple-Samsung relationship is not over yet: a Nikkei analysis finds Samsung-made A7 inside iPhone 5S.

Apple's A7 processor has a dual-core CPU and quad-core GPU. Nikkei's findings echo Chipworks' earlier analysis.
Apple's A7 processor has a dual-core CPU and quad-core GPU. Nikkei's findings echo Chipworks' earlier analysis. Chipworks

The mystery of the Apple-Samsung relationship remains largely unsolved. But Japan's Nikkei offered more evidence on Monday that chip-level relationships are hard to end.

The results of an earlier Nikkei Electronics' analysis were published in Monday's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily. The analysis showed a Samsung-manufactured A7 processor inside the 5S.

This follows analysis done in September by Chipworks that also showed a Samsung-made A7.

The A7 is Apple's newest processor that is used in the iPhone 5S, iPad Air, and iPad Mini Retina. It is the first 64-bit processor to be used in a consumer smartphone.

Nikkei Electronics, again echoing Chipworks analysis, said the A7 is built on Samsung's 28-nanometer manufacturing process -- more advanced than the 32-nanometer Samsung process used for the older A6 chip.

The publication found a dual-core CPU (central processing unit) and quad-core GPU (graphics processing unit). The latter is based on a design from Imagination Technologies.

So, how long will this Apple-Samsung relationship continue? Of course no one but Apple and Samsung know the answer to that question. But a source who is familiar with global contract manufacturing relationships told CNET recently that Apple has been working with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), the largest chip contract manufacturer in the world.

And Globalfoundries, AMD's erstwhile manufacturing operations, could also be a potential source of manufacturing, the source said.

The moral of the story is that it is very difficult to wind down chip manufacturing relationships. It can take as long as five years, the source said.

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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