Not much longer we’ll know for sure what’s going to be new inside the iPhone 5. But until then, it’s fun to speculate and guess what it’ll be.
Currently the iPhone4S has the A5 chip, iPad2 has a 32nm version of the A5, iPad3 (new iPad) has the beefed up graphics version of the A5, the A5X.
Traditionally the iPhone is the launching pad for the next generation of Apple silicon. So this would suggest an A6. What would an A6 be made up of though? Both the A5 and A5X are based on ARM Cortex A9 with 2 cores.
Samsung and Nvidia in their current top tier chips have 4-core Cortex A9 solutions. But, those have been out for awhile now. The next generation is 2-core ARM Cortex A15. And the iPhone needs something to last a year until the next iPhone.
Samsung has teased its upcoming Exynos 5 Dual that is A15 based (link) with revised availability in late Q4 (from Q2).
I think the A6 will be A15 based. But, well.. it’s tricky. The timing is tricky. It will need to have been in production in volume with good yields for some time to satisfy the massive demand for the iPhone launch.
Here’s a theory. Samsung has delayed its availability of the Exynos 5 until late Q4 due to the demand of producing Apple’s A6. Earlier estimates from Samsung had indicated a Q2 2012 launch. Samsung’s plant in Texas produces both Apple’s chips and their own. The sheer volume of the iPhone business and the lack of a flagship Samsung Mobile product launch on the horizon to use the Exynos 5 lends credence to the theory.
On the flip side, mobile processors are fast approaching the “good enough” point. It might not be necessary to make the jump to an A15 based solution. Most recently Apple has been focussing more on the graphics side of processing demands. And rightfully so, the iPad3 with its retina display needs it.
But, the new iPhone’s screen has already made the transition to retina pixel density back with the iPhone 4. The 5’s screen is rumored to grow a bit vertically to go from a 3:2 ration to 16:9 like most high end Android phones. That increase won’t be that much of an extra strain on the graphics.
The main areas of concern now are features and battery life, not compute power. But with a new processor generation comes an increase in efficiency and efficiency can translate to power savings.
Ok, the final decision (guess): A6 will be the first ARM Cortex A15 solution to market. The graphics chunk of the chip, I’m not so sure about.
Unlikely but awesome: PowerVR Series6 (not sure if it’s available for Samsung’s 32nm process, may be designed for 28 or 22nm)
More likely: PowerVR SGX544MP2 (or SGX554)