Apple sneaks a dual-core 32nm A5 chip inside Apple TV

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Apple revealed the 3rd generation Apple TV back in March alongside the new iPad. The big selling point of the new Apple TV box is its ability to playback 1080p. The device also has a streamlined new interface, low power Bluetooth 4.0, the option to pay for Netflix access through iTunes, and an upgraded processor inside.

 

That last point, the upgraded processor, got overlooked for the most part. It is, after all, described as a single-core A5 chip on Apple’s online store. Nothing to get excited about, right?

Well, Chipworks did some digging and discovered the A5 inside the new Apple TV is a brand new version of the A5 processor that holds a few secrets. First of all, it isn’t a single-core chip. Apple is sticking dual-core A5 processors inside the Apple TV, but only using one of the cores.

 

The most likely reason for this is “binning,” which allows chips to be used when they don’t come up to spec for other devices. So, if an A5 dual-core chip comes off the production line and has one malfunctioning core, instead of Apple discarding it they can stick it in an Apple TV instead. That saves money because chip yields will be higher.

 

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The other surprise is that the Apple TV A5 processor is not a 45nm chip as previous A5 parts have been. Apple has moved to a 32nm process, meaning the chip is 41% smaller, more power efficient, and cheaper to produce.

 

For the consumer this means your 3rd gen Apple TV won’t draw as much power, but ultimately it’s Apple that gains the most from these changes. The new Apple TV must now be cheaper to manufacture, yet the $99 price point has been retained.

 

Read more at Chipworks