The new A6 system on chip (Soc) that is powering the newly released iPhone 5 may seem like the latest technology, but in fact the development started years ago and the initial design was done back in 2010.
The new processor from Apple
uses very fast LPDDR2 memory running at a high 1066 MHz and, just like Intel’s new Clover Trail
low-power processor, it practically wears the memory chips on top of it to save PCB space and lower design complexity.
We described the concept here
Way back in 2008, Apple reportedly
decided to develop its own mobile processor and the preferred architecture was ARM.
The company paid $278 million for PS Semi’s team in April of the same year and the attractive aspect was the fact that these guys had already worked on the low-power StrongARM processors.
During the same month, the Cupertino giant signed a deal with ARM and the bottom line was that Apple was now free to design its own architecture without directly licensing a predesigned ARM
core from the British IP company. AMD
’s Jim Keller and Pete Bannon, one of the architects of the famous PowerPC architecture, continued to work on the main A6 architecture and by early 2010, the computing design was basically done.
Then the company proceeded to work on the physical-design and this is partly what we’ve described here
The CPU was finally done a year later and, by the summer of 2011, Apple
already received working samples of the new CPU and started testing and software certification.
One year later, we have the impressive custom Cortex A9 design with various Cortex A15 features inside.
The bottom line is that Apple's A6 is as much a success story as Intel's Medfield
is almost a complete failure.