All things about Apple Processors

Apple Inc has been using its own System On Chips to power up their iDevices since launch. Apple has been using different naming schema when compared to other SoC manufacturers. There wouldn’t be any difficult combinations here like Snapdragon 8xxx, Exynos 5xxx etc. Apple usually calls its processors with the combination of alphabet and numeric number like A4, A5. Later they were added another alphabet at postfix to differentiate as the powerful processors – A5X, A6X.
Apple APL0XXX :

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Apple started designing the SoCs in June 2007. The first SoC named APL0098, it was manufactured based on 90nm fabrication process and clocked at 412 MHz, it contains only one core along with 16KB cache memory. It was combined with 32-bit Single channel LPDDR RAM, which had clocked at 103 MHz, Apple included PowerVR MBX Lite GPU to handle the graphics, it was clocked at 103 MHz. iPhone, iPod Touch (1st Gen), iPhone 3G are the devices which utilized APL0098 processor so far.

Under the APL0XXX brand Apple had released total four processors which are having the clock frequencies ranging from 412 MHz-800MHz. Apple had included variety of processors in different devices including iPhone 3GS too.

Apple A4 :
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Apple A4 was designed based on Cortex A8 CPU architecture. It is the Single-core processor clocked at 800 MHz- 1GHz. The A4 has used in iPhone 4, iPad, iPod Touch (4th Gen), Apple TV (2nd Gen). The SGX535 in the A4 could push 35 million polygons/second and 500 million pixels/second, although in real world tests it struggled to pull off even 7 million flat shaded polygons. Interestingly, A4 chipset doesn’t have the built-in RAM, instead of that Apple went with PoP installation means, there is a package with two lower power 128MB DDR SDRAM chips total of 256MB RAM mounted in top of the chipset. Where, iPhone 4 uses two 256 MB PoP chipsets so in the result iPhone 4 becomes faster than previous generation iDevices.

Apple A5 :
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Apple A5 SoC was announced back in march, 2011. The chipset debuted with the release of iPad 2. This is the first Dual-Core SoC from Apple, iPhone 4S also utilizing the same SoC till date.

A5 was designed based on ARM Cortex-A9 CPU with advanced SIMD extension to save the battery. There is a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU, clocked at 200 MHz. The GPU is capable to deliver nearly 2 billion polygons/second. The Apple A5 chip is clocked at 1GHz on iPad 2 and 800 MHz on iPhone 4S. It has the capability to adjust the frequency dynamically to save the battery life. According to the Apple, A5 chipset is capable to deliver upto twice performance and 9X graphics than A4 chipset. The updated Dual-core chipset is now shipping with iPad Mini.

Later in March 2013, Apple released a Single-core version within the A5 portfolio to power up 3rd generation Apple TV, it has the same features as Dual-core version of A5 but it comes with one disabled core to save the battery life.

Apple A5X :

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Apple A5X was announced on March 7, 2012 at the launch of The New iPad (3rd generation). The A5X comes with updated specs, the major step up is addition of Quad-core graphics unit. It was announced with PowerVR SGX543MP4 GPU. The memory bandwidth also improved to 12.8 GB/sec means it is 3X faster than A5’s memory bandwidth capacity. Apple has separated the RAM from CPU to run individually, in the result, they have gained nearly twice fast performance overall.

Apple A6 :

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Apple A6 was announced on September, 2012 at iPhone 5 launch event. The A6 chip clocked at 1.3 GHz per each core and has 1 gig of RAM. It is 22% smaller and twice faster in CPU and GPU performances. The SoC was designed based on 32nm fabrication process and utilizes updated AMRv7 instruction set. It is coupled with Tri-core PowerVR SGX543MP3 GPU running at 266 MHz.

Apple A6X :
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Apple A6X was debuted in October, 2012 with iPad (4th generation). The chipset has similar in terms of design and other specs but it has updated PowerVR SGX554MP4 Quad-core GPU instead of tri-core one. Apple also updated clock speed to 1.4 GHz. Still iPad (4th generation) only the device that utilizing A6X SoC.

Conclusion :

Apple’s SoCs aren’t the fastest when compared to Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa, Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 chipsets. But due to the iOS optimization, the SoCs works extremely good. Apple iPhone claims buttery smooth performance, although there is no false in that. We haven’t seen iPhone 5 like performance so far in any other smartphone. Android do have some lag even there is project butter. While, we never see any lag in any iDevice. So, it isn’t the matter of clock speeds and number of cores. Apple SoCs are the best chipsets, which can easily compete with Qualcomm Snapdragon, Samsung Exynos , NVIDIA Tegra chipsets.