What we do know is that Apple wasn’t giving Intel any love, having the utter impudence to snub the chip behemoth in favour of a rather lower powered, zippier system on a chip (SoC) dubbed the “A4” processor.
The A4, designed by Apple’s very own insiders – including a couple of high profile former AMD/ATI GPGPU gurus and ex PA Semiconductor boffins – is apparently based on a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor with an Imagination Technologies SGX 535 graphics core.
It’s also been heavily implied that the chip was fabbed by Samsung, something which has been backed up by an undercover TechEye source.
Samsung also happens to be a partner in the IBM alliance for process technology, which means the firm has access to leading edge-technology, even though it’s not strictly speaking a “foundry” company. Indeed, Samsung’s business model here seems to be more along the lines of selling off as much of its excess capacity as possible.
While this may well come cheap(er) for Apple than a proper fab, sources tell us other fabs may have plans to try to poach the fruity firm next time around. Firms like GlobalFoundries, for instance, which now has a pure-play leading-edge foundry using similar process tech recipes to Samsung’s own.
Rumour has it that Apple is using Samsung’s 45nm bulk process for its chips, though, so if Glofo wants a taste of the Apple pie, it may have to start thinking of moving over from its current batch of 45nm SOI.
Watch this space.