Apple and Samsung may be duking it out in courtrooms around the globe, trying to establish once and for all which company ripped off the others’ intellectual property. But that doesn’t mean the two technology companies can’t play nice from time to time.
In fact, it appears that Samsung is manufacturing the iPhone 5’s A6 processor for Apple.
The folks at Chipworks and iFixit dissected Apple’s newest chip and put it under a microscope. As expected, it’s a dual core processor with triple core graphics. It’s based on Apple’s own design, but there are markings which indicate that the processor was actually manufactured at a Samsung plant.
Interestingly, the chip experts report that it looks like Apple laid out the logic blocks in the ARM processor cores by hand, which could help making them faster than chips whose blocks are laid out using computer software.
You can visit iFixit for more details about the A6 processor, as well as close-up images of the WiFi module, LTE modem, audio codec, and other chips that help make the iPhone 5… the iPhone 5.
It may seem strange, but this is pretty much par for the course in the corporate world. Rifts can sometimes be bad enough that multinational companies will break off all ties, but in most cases, its to their mutual benefit to keep working together even if they’re going after each other in court all the time.
(It’s no surprise that some conspiracy theorists believe that the lawsuits and sharp rhetoric are just a ruse to trick people into thinking that our corporate overlords aren’t all in it together!)
As someone who is pretty familiar with VHDL and the various chip layout languages and programs, I can say that if Apple laid out much of the chip by hand that is a SERIOUS undertaking, especially when talking the complexity in these types of chips. While I’m not a fan of i-devices, this makes me have some serious respect for their chip designers.
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