Teardown of Apple's A6 Chip Reveals Manual Layout of Custom Dual-Core CPU

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    [​IMG]


    iFixit and Chipworks have partnered on a teardown of the A6 system-on-a-chip, Apple's custom design that powers the iPhone 5. While several of the high-level details such as 1 GB of RAM and a dual-core CPU paired with triple-core graphics have already been shared, the teardown confirms all of these details with high-resolution images showing the various components of the chip.

    Perhaps most notably, the custom ARM-based CPU developed by Apple for the A6 appears to have been manually laid out on the die, an expensive and time-consuming process but one that can offer greater efficiency than automatic layout.
    [​IMG]


    The report also takes a look into the die, where it confirms that the A6 is manufactured using Samsung's 32-nanometer HKMG process that was trialled earlier this year with the A5 that made its way into the third-generation Apple TV and the revised iPad 2.

    Finally, iFixit and Chipworks took a look at a number of other chips from the iPhone 5, sharing die photos from Qualcomm's MDM9615M modem and RTR8600 RF transceiver, a Cirrus Logic audio amplifier chip, and Murata's Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module incorporating a chip from Broadcom with other components.

    Article Link: Teardown of Apple's A6 Chip Reveals Manual Layout of Custom Dual-Core CPU
     
  2. Joe-Diver macrumors 6502

    Joe-Diver

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    Cool....keeps getting better and better. Purpose driven design.
     
  3. STiNG Operation macrumors 6502a

    STiNG Operation

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    Will somebody do a video so we can all know if the thing will blend???

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Tankmaze macrumors 68000

    Tankmaze

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    so it's dual core, but can beat the shizz out of quad core phones. awesome !!
     
  5. dkersten macrumors 6502a

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  6. Geckotek macrumors G3

    Geckotek

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  7. joeblough macrumors 6502

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    well, it probably was not placed and routed by hand - there's way too many logic cells for that. it's clear that it was floorplanned by humans. but that's really not that uncommon. each logic block is assigned its own area and the placer is not allowed to place cells from a given block outside those bounds. if the design is partitioned right and each block communicates with the other blocks through flip-flops, this works really well.
     
  8. Marzee macrumors newbie

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    The other areas?

    So what are the other areas, that aren't GPU, CPU, PLLs, etc?

    Is half of the chip hardware noise reduction?
     
  9. zhandri Suspended

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    #9
    why didn't they give out all those amazing specs at the keynote? this is absolutely amazing! job(s) well done
     
  10. NightCastle macrumors member

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  11. FirePhantom macrumors member

    FirePhantom

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    I love looking at die photos. Makes me proud to be human. Honestly, look at what our species has achieved. In less than 50 years we've shrunk the computing power of a whole warehouse of vacuum tubes into something so small we can't see the circuitry with our naked eyes.
     
  12. akm3 macrumors 68020

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    Because even when Apple is ahead in a specs game, it doesn't want to get into or encourage spec-whoring because it's a race they eventually can lose. They prefer to focus on what you can DO rather than how many more gigahertz or whatever it contain than their competitors.
     
  13. Avatarshark macrumors regular

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    And we haven't stopped yet. In less than 7 years we are primed to bring it down to 5 nm, even now the Intel chips are 22 nm. So a 75% decrease in7 years.
     
  14. Avatar74 macrumors 65816

    Avatar74

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    Because barraging people with specs doesn't tell most customers anything useful...
     
  15. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    No, but repeated blocks like registers may have been routed by hand once and then repeated. Basically, they would have routed any of the critical path components necessary to hit their clocking/power targets.

    I/O (mem hiearchy), I/O (ports), possibly some third party IP integrated into the core like the previous A5 and cirrus logic, power management and various other things.
     
  16. KScottMyers macrumors regular

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    And this is the type of thing that makes the iPhone so darn amazing. Seems Apple doesn't take a lot lot shortcuts in designing and engineering the best products out there.

    Yet all the competitors will try to tell you otherwise. Just crazy.
     
  17. Shining23 macrumors newbie

    Shining23

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  18. Mac21ND macrumors 6502a

    Mac21ND

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    Just like beer, it's about quality not quantity :cool:
     
  19. zhandri Suspended

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    it's not about bragging. it's about showing what amazing work they did
     
  20. gdesalvo@umail. macrumors member

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    #20
    Logistics, and manufactured by Samsung? Not apple, and the A15 core is a ARM design, not an Apple design. As for Innovation the Krait core does something very similar to the Apple A6 and was brought out to the market over 6 months ago. I'm not sure how this is any innovation on Apple's part. The iphone 6 only really has one new innovation it brings to the market...Apple Maps...and we all know how most people out there feel about it.
     
  21. Geckotek, Sep 25, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2012

    Geckotek macrumors G3

    Geckotek

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    #21
    Did you even read the article? You do realize this isn't an A15 core, right?

    You've seen the iPhone 6? You must have some super high clearance at Apple. :D

    Edit: What device is using the Krait core? Do we have any benchmarks comparing the 2? The innovation in this design is the effort Apple went through to make it the most efficient and also most powerful mobile processor currently on the market.
     
  22. Zunjine macrumors 6502a

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    Lazy? Boring? Un-innovative?

    The more I learn about this new iPhone the more astonishing it seems. What a great piece of design and engineering.
     
  23. chrmjenkins macrumors 603

    chrmjenkins

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    #23
    Troll on brother.
     
  24. joeblough macrumors 6502

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    that's true, the datapaths could have been entirely done by hand but most likely the control logic is autoplaced and autorouted. regular structures are a lot easier to do by hand. having said that, the only things we laid out by hand were ddr3 memory interfaces but then again we never had such aggressive power requirements. block memories are always hand placed but that's kind of part of the floorplan.
     
  25. gdesalvo@umail. macrumors member

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    #25
    Technically you could eventually scale down to 1.2nm or so as a physical limit, however it will be quite hard once we hit the sub 7-8nm to shrink further. There is a point where the cost of the chips will simply outweighs the benefit of the added density from a consumer standpoint...
     

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83 September 25, 2012