iPhone 5′s new A6 processor developed by Apple

By on September 16, 2012
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Not ARM’s Cortex A9 or A15.

While Apple announced the iPhone 5 last week, as usual no details were provided on the CPU & GPU front. All we know is that the new A6 processor in the iPhone 5 is twice as fast as the iPhone 4S. This, however, doesn’t stop speculation, and while everyone is trying to figure out whether the new A6 processor is based on ARM’s Cortex A9 or even A15, AnandTech has done a quick educated analysis of what the processor could most likely be.

Armed with information from insider sources as well as looking at Apple’s developer tools Xcode 4.5, it’s clear that the A6 processor is neither based on the ARM Cortex A9 processor (as was the iPhone 4S) nor the upcoming Cortex A15 processor, which hasn’t been introduced by any manufacturer to date. What’s happened, instead, is that Apple’s CPU team has come up with a custom processor ARMv7 core.

Based on their computational requirements for iOS 6.0 as well as the limitations of the battery inside, the custom processor was designed with the heavy UI requirements in mind, while also maintaining battery life. On the GPU front we’re looking at a slightly higher clocked PowerVR SGX 543MP3 (an upgrade from the iPhone 4S’ PowerVR SGX 543MP2).

At the end of the day, what Apple has done with the iPhone 5 is something completely new, as they have gone ahead and built a processor for themselves, instead of using something off the shelf (so to speak) like the ARM Cortex A9 or A15 processor. How powerful this custom processor really is, remains to be seen as the iPhone 5 will hit the streets by the end of this week.


From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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