The mystery of the A6 SoC in the Apple iPhone 5

Not much is known about the SoC itself except that it is twice as fast as the A5 chipset found in the iPhone 4S and has a GPU twice as powerful as well.

The A6 is also 22 per cent smaller than the A5 according to Apple, presumably referring to the package rather than the die size. We can make up a rough picture of the A6 based on what we know of the chip that powered the iPhone 4S.

The A5 contained a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU clocked at 800MHz with a PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU capable of pushing up to 80 million polygons per second and with a fill rate of two billion pixels per second.

A 2x increase improvement on both the CPU and the GPU would mean a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 clocked at 800MHz (or a dual core clocked at 1.6GHz), with a PowerVR SGX543MP4, the same as the A5X that powers the new iPad.

A jump from 45nm to the 32nm LP HK+MG process by Samsung has been known to be accompanied by a drop in die area, thermal dissipation and a significant rise in battery life, all things remaining equal.

We suspect therefore that Apple used the new iPad to finetune the 32nm process before ramping up volumes for the iPhone 5 and adding more cores to the A5X.

You can win an iPhone 5 in our iPhone 5 competition by answering a simple question about what generation the Phone 5 is. ITProPortal reported live on Apple’s announcement. Other than the iPhone 5, we saw new iPod devices but no cheaper version of the iPhone 4S, an iPad mini and potentially a 13in Macbook Pro with Retina Display.