We braved the lines and TechInsights was able to begin their teardown of the Apple iPad 2 3Gversion almost immediately! Before the iPad 2 was released, we speculated that Apple's design patterns would suggest the iPad 2would borrow heavily from the Verizon iPhone 4 (and Motorola Xoom) by selecting a Qualcomm multi-mode-ready radio. It turned out be the exact same radio as found in the iPhone 4 and Motorola Xoom available from Verizon. In terms of the processor, the A5's general specifications match the nVIDIATegra 2 dual-core processor studied in the Motorola Xoom so CPU costs we assume comparable pricing(Approximately $15-$20). However, we'll have a better understanding of the cost by looking at the A5'sdetails to learn more.
Despite more research that will uncover many of iPad 2’s unknowns, we can use past history to speculateand estimate component costs that the iPad 2 has an approximate $270 cost for Bill of Materials (BOM).Apple's volumes and plat-forming will certainly factor in keeping BOM costs competitive to their tabletcompetition. We will not know the full story until full-scale research of every component in the iPad 2(which of course we’ll do) but given Apple's steady price-point for the iPad 2 versus its predecessor – theiPad, we expect to see iPad 2 BOM cost estimates to align closely to those of the first generation iPadfrom its mid-2010 launch.
Companies are looking to increase their market share in the tablet space by improving upon the technical specs of the original iPad in their new releases. Whereas products such as the Motorola XOOM were designed to challenge the iPad by improving on the processor (such as utilizing the NVidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor ), Apple is now responding by introducing the Apple A5 dual-core processor in use in the iPad 2. Essentially, Apple is telling the tablet market that if dual-core is what you want, then dual-core is what you will get.
There is a quite a bit of speculation as to who Apple chose for the fabrication of the Apple A5 processor. Rumors circulated that Apple may have chosen to TSMC as their new fab in response to new competition from Samsung in the handset and tablet space.
Based on analysis performed by TechInsights Lab and Process Analysis personnel, we can say that the A5 in our possession is definitely manufactured by Samsung using their 45nm process. TechInsights used optical die and SEM cross-section images to analyse important features such as die edge seal, metal 1 pitch, logic and SRAM transistor gate measurements. These features were then compared to other manufacturers in our database, including other Samsung 45nm parts. The previous generation Apple A4 processor was also fabbed on Samsung’s 45nm process.
Right away the primary observation is that the A5 is a VERY BIG IC, with a processor die size of 12.1 x 10.1 mm. You'll recall that the Apple A4 was a package-on-package with the processor and its supporting memory stacked one capsule atop another and it had a processor die size of 7.3mm x 7.3mm.
The A5 was said to support Low Power DDR2 DRAM memory and that has been proven true from our decap. What is also interesting is that teardowns performed at two TechInsights locations (Austin and Ottawa) revealed two different LPDDR2 DRAM from two different manufacturers (Samsung and Elpida). The Samsung K4P2G324EC LPDDR2 die is the first time we’ve seen Samsung’s new 46nm LPDDR2 memory. This also tells us that Apple is fully prepared to package multiple LPDDR2 offerings.
The people at IO Snoops have found something very interesting. While the A4 clock speed was steady at 1 GHz, the A5 clock speed varies depending on the application being run. This would indicate an advanced power management circuitry controlling the clock speeds of the cores—something new for the A5 and may explain the use of a different power management IC from Dialog Semiconductor.
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