Apple A5 Processor: Samsung out, TSMC in

According to San Francisco-based publication EE Times, the production of the new dual-core Apple A5 processor is about to shift away from Korea-based Samsung, to Taiwan-based Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, also known as TSMC. The move would be a major blow to Samsung, as the company has built all iOS-powered device processors since the launch of the original iPhone, back in 2007. The new agreement between Apple and TSMC is still in the works, and will likely span across multiple generations of processors. TSMC will initially build the Apple A5 using its 40-nm process, and will eventually move to a 28-nm process, to further reduce the power footprint of the processor, and its successors. The move is not a surprise, as Samsung is increasingly becoming a threat to Apple, with products such as the Galaxy S and the Galaxy Tab. Samsung will remain one of Apple’s largest subcontractors, however, the agreement between the two giants will now be limited to areas where Apple and Samsung do not compete, such as NAND Flash memory chips. The Apple A5, based on the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture, offers dramatic performance levels, while using the same amount of power used by its predecessor, the Apple A4. Both chips are clocked at 1 GHz, but the A5 offers two cores, while the A4 only offers one, as it is based on the older ARM Cortex-A8 architecture. Similarly to the Apple A4, the Apple A5 comes with a PowerVR graphics engine. However, the new processor includes the newer SGX543 from Imagination Technologies, a graphics engine able to deliver nine times the performance offered by its predecessor. Thanks to this new chip, the iPad 2 – and next-generation iOS-powered devices – will see their raw processing power double, which should dramatically increase their performance, especially in heavy multi-tasking situations. The new processor will also help Apple better compete against the high performance Android-powered devices such as the Motorola Xoom, which features the Nvidia Tegra 250 chip, a processor with specifications surprisingly close to the Apple A5 (dual-core Cortex-A9-based as well).