Apple’s revision of the 3rd generation Apple TV would be using a new and smaller A5 SOC solution. Rumours have been building up about Apple shifting Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Intel, to move away from Samsung’s SOC production facilities. Chipworks made few observations about the chip during their tear-down.
They specified that the A5 memory and the processors are 2 separate onboard chips. A5 is using a package-on-package (PoP) design where they’ve stacked the memory over the SoC. Although this does take more space on the PCB, it could prove to be a cost-saving solution. The processor measures 6.1mm x 6.2mm. Other than that, the SoC still uses a single core with dual-core Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX 543MP2 GPU.
According to Chipworks, the new A5 is based on Samsung’s 32nm process. Other than the name, the design and maybe the performance would not be the same. 3rd generation Apple TVs have one of the CPU cores disabled, therefore the performance maybe the same as older models. However these chips would be much smaller so it will save money in the long run. The con is that designing this chip will take fair amount of time, money and effort.
Apple maybe doing this because the company is aiming to sell these units in high numbers but with lower margins, therefore a reduction of cost seem plausable. There is a possibility that Apple may have another product that they plan to launch which would require a small and inexpensive chip such as this, maybe to be used in the much rumoured iWatch and a cheaper version of the iPhone?
Source: Ars Technica