While 2012 means a lot of things to many people, this is also the year when we can expect the iPad to sport Apple’s latest chip tech. There’s nothing easy when releasing new processor technology. If it was hard for Intel, then Apple would be no exception. The Linley Group, a chip consulting firm, claims that the “A6” would not appear in the iPad 3 sooner than 2012.
According to Linley Group senior analyst Kevin Krewell, the A6 not only contains four processor cores, but will also utilize 3D technology. The previous Apple processor, A5, only has 2 cores. Krewell was cited in the Taiwan Economic News saying this. Coincidentally, Intel also announced to have 3D technology sometime in May. Apple has a new contract chip manufacturer in the company of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC). It is worth taking note that the A5 processor is made by Samsung.
“This pace would make the A6 one of the first 28 mobile processors to enter production. This schedule, however, breaks Apple’s annual processor-upgrade cycle and will delay any products using the A6 until at least June 2012,” Krewell claims.
But if the iPad 3 is launched early in 2012, this will have to use the same A5 processor, just like the current iPad 2. Although there’s a rumor that it will be using the new high-resolution Retina display, predicts Krewell.
Krewell further predicts that the quad-core A6 will be at par with the best mobile processors of the following year. Notable of these is the expected quad-core offering of Nvidia. This chip is rumoured to power both Android and Windows 8 devices. This necessarily includes both tablets and laptops. “Fabricating Apple’s A6 in 28nm (instead of the 40nm process Nvidia is using for its quad-core part) will reduce both die cost and power, yielding a much better product,” he said.
TSMC’s 3D technology for Apple’s A6 chip “could use 3D stacking to incorporate additional DRAM or flash memory, or to boost interconnect speed,” Krewell explains.
The author of the Linley Group’s report, Kevin Krewell, also said that the “3D Technology referred to in the Taiwan Economic News report is a way to stack and electrically connect die vertically. It could be used to connect memory die directly to the A6 SoC die. The Intel 3D technology is a transistor design where the transistor structure sticks out of the die (giving it a vertical dimension). Other chip manufacturers call it ‘FinFET’ to avoid confusion with other ’3D’ technologies.”