Despite Legal War, Apple iPad 3 A5X Processor Built On Samsung Technology

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Even though Apple and Samsung are at each other’s throats in courts the world over, it is revealed that the A5X processor powering the newly-released Apple iPad 3 is built using technology from Samsung.

Apple and Samsung are in a long-drawn legal fight in courts all over the world with the most recent development being Samsung banned by a Dutch court from pursuing a communications standards-related lawsuit in the Netherlands against Apple.

However, Samsung is again the maker of many components in the newest gadget from the guys at Cupertino, the Apple iPad 3.

The information came to light via a teardown of the iPad 3 conducted by Chipworks, a leading reverse engineering and patent infringement analysis firm.

“We have confirmed that the A5X is indeed manufactured on Samsungs 45 nm LP CMOS Process,” Chipworks writes in its analysis of the iPad 3.

This news also comes after it was reported last year that Apple is increasingly looking away from Samsung as a supplier in light of the two companies’ legal war which started in April of last year when Apple accused Samsung of “slavishly copying” it products with the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.

It was rumored that Apple was looking at having Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s foundry make its next system-on-a-chip.

Nonetheless, in light of all this, Samsung is also said to supply the LP DDR2 units utilized in the iPad 3 Chipworks analyzed.

However, Elpida also supplied some LP DDR2 modules for Apple on the iPad 3 as evidenced by Elpida units found in another teardown of the new tablet, this time by renowned repair firm iFixit.

Meanwhile, Chipworks has noted that the die area for the iPad 3 A5X processor is 36 percent larger than the A5 processor on the iPad 2 owing to the fact that there’s now a quad-core graphics processor for the A5X which Apple needed to support the iPad 3 Retina Display.

Chipworks writes:

“The A5X part number is APL5498 and the die markings repeat that same number as well. The balance of die markings indicate Samsung being the foundry for this processor (we really did not expect to see TSMC making the A5X, but one never knows). The A5x die measures 12.82  mm x 12.71  mm for an area of 162.94 mm². Compared to the A5 which measures 10.01 mm x 11.92 mm for an area of 119.32 mm². That is an increase in the die area by 36.5%! A fairly large increase to accommodate the dual-core CPUs  and quad-core graphics processor. This indicates that Apple stuck with Samsungs’ low power 45 nm CMOS process.”

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Meanwhile, one of the other interesting details to note from the teardown conducted by iFixit is that Apple has upped the power of the iPad 3 battery when it is compared to the iPad 2 battery.

According to iFixit: “While the iPad 2 housed a formidable 25 watt-hour Li-ion battery, the iPad 3 has upped the ante to the tune of 42.5 watt-hours. Its 3.7 volts and estimated 10 hours of use (9 with cellular data network) are comparable to that of the iPad 2, but we assume the extra 17.5 watt-hours are put to good use powering the extra RAM and greatly improved GPU.”

“Each separate cell lists its rating of 3.78 volts and 14.60 watt-hour… Apple physically increased the size of each cell by about 70%, explaining the big jump from 25 to 42 watt-hours,” iFixit adds. The iPad 3 integrates three battery cells.

The iPad 3, which also now has 1GB of RAM, was released starting Friday.

Apple iPad 3 A5X system-on-a-chip images from Chipworks.

Sources: Chipworks and iFixit


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Author: Solon Harmony Dolor

A passion for technology and journalism makes this upcoming writer very interested in social media and technology news. Fresh from finishing an English and Journalism degree from the University of the Philippines Diliman, he aims to bring interesting news to our readers . Don't forget to subscribe and receive our latest posts in your inbox.

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