A9x Stories April 4, 2016

iPad Pro Top Features Camera Bump

The 9.7″ iPad Pro is an interesting new device. Fitting squarely between the 12.9″ iPad Pro and the 9.7″ iPad Air 2, it can be difficult to determine what the device actually is. Is it an “iPad Air 3″ or is it an iPad Pro mini? Well, to be honest, it’s a little bit of both.

The new iPad Pro will feel very familiar to current iPad Air 2 owners. For those of you that already own a 12.9” iPad Pro, the smaller version might feel like a downgrade in some ways. Certainly, it’s a downgrade in the most obvious area — size. But in other ways, primarily camera capability, it’s a huge upgrade.

Of course, iPad Air 2 owners who are envious of the iPad Pro’s ability to use the Apple Pencil have a definite reason to eye the 9.7″ Pro. The new iPad Pro also works with Apple’s new smaller Smart Keyboard accessory. In other words, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to the 9.7″ iPad Pro. Have a look at some of our favorite new features, along with a few of the disappointments that we encountered. expand full story

A9x Stories November 30, 2015

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Chipworks has provided our first look inside the A9X chip that powers the iPad Pro, thanks to a die shot obtained by Motley Fool.

One of the fascinating things about the incredibly small processes used for today’s chips is that even a die shot doesn’t provide a definitive answer to what is found inside one. There’s still a certain amount of interpretation involved, though both Chipworks and Motley Fool‘s chip specialist Ashraf Eassa agree on what we are looking at in the full image (below) …  expand full story

A9x Stories November 11, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 6.27.55 PM

It’s no surprise that the people over at repair guide portal iFixit have already started their ritual teardown of Apple’s new iPad Pro. The new device features a larger 12.9-inch display, the 3rd generation 64-bit A9X chip, and other upgraded internals, but are there any other new surprises inside the iPad Pro?

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A9x Stories September 9, 2015

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Apple just wrapped up its press event today where it officially unveiled the much anticipated next-generation iPhone 6s lineup, a new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iPad mini 4, and an all-new, revamped Apple TV experience. It also gave us some updates on Apple Watch with new bands and partnerships with designers, as well as confirmation on release dates for iOS 9, OS X, and iCloud pricing updates.

Head below for handy links to everything Apple announced today: expand full story

A9x Stories August 26, 2015

Trade secrets stolen from TSMC helped Samsung win Apple’s A9 chip business, rules Taiwanese court

Taiwan’s top court has ruled that former TSMC R&D director Liang Mong-song revealed to Samsung trade secrets that enabled it to copy the chipmaker’s FinFET manufacturing processes, reports DigiTimes. The processes are used by both companies to produce the A9 chips used in the upcoming new iPhones.

It was recently suggested that Apple was playing off the two companies against each other, with Samsung reportedly offering discounted prices in order to “grab the majority of A9 chip orders.”

The ruling of the second-instance court was according to an analysis conducted by third-party experts regarding key manufacturing processes of TSMC and Samsung […]

“The 16nm and 14nm FinFET products that both companies will mass produce this year were even more alike,” the report indicated. “It could be hard to tell (if the product) came from Samsung or TSMC if only structural analysis is used.”

Liang resigned from TSMC to take up a position at a Samsung sponsored university where all the students were said to be Samsung employees.

As Patently Apple notes, the penalty for passing on the trade secrets hardly acts as a deterrent: Liang has merely been banned from working for Samsung for a period of four months.

A9x Stories August 12, 2015

A9

A new report suggests that Apple is playing A9 chip makers Samsung and TSMC against one another in the lead up to the launch of new iPhones, attempting to extract last-minute price reductions for its next-generation processors. According to the report from Digitimes, which has a mixed track record regarding upcoming Apple products, Apple is requesting lower prices from both companies. Though TSMC is “inclined to refuse,” Samsung has agreed to discount the chips, offering Apple “almost-free backend services” in an effort to “grab the majority of A9 chip orders.”

The report suggests that Apple is leveraging the novelty of the FinFET chip manufacturing process to extract concessions from TSMC, which has relatively few FinFET chip orders from other customers. A claimed reduction in Apple’s demand from 30,000 wafers per month to under 20,000 wafers would leave TSMC to make up a significant difference between Apple’s original order and the Taiwanese company’s FinFET production capacity. The impact on Apple’s upcoming A9X, which was believed to be handled by TSMC, is unclear…

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A9x Stories February 26, 2015

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The WSJ is suggesting that Apple’s growing presence in Israel is focused on expanding the company’s chip design capabilities, reporting that it has hired most of the local employees of a chip design company shut down by Texas Instruments and is advertising new positions in silicon and semiconductor design.

“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.

While the report contains more speculation than hard fact, we noted yesterday that Tim Cook–who is currently visiting the country–is accompanied by Johny Srouji, whose bio on the Apple website says that he “leads all custom silicon architecture and development” …

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A9x Stories January 16, 2015

Apple Intel

As we reported earlier this week, often reliable KGI is predicting that Apple will bring its in-house designed A-series processor to an entry-level Mac sometime in 2016 with TSMC and Samsung expected to fab the potential A9X and A10X chips, respectively. As the move to put non-Intel chips in the Mac lineup would be a departure for the company, CNBC asked Intel CEO Brian Krzanich about the chip-maker’s business plans with Apple… expand full story

A9x Stories January 14, 2015

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Is an A-series chip destined for a future model of the 12-inch MacBook Air?

A KGI report predicts that Apple will begin using its own processors for Macs “in the next 1-2 years,” with a specific prediction of a Samsung-fabbed A10X chip powering at least one Mac made in 2016. The wording appears to suggest an entry-level machine–possibly a future model of the 12-inch MacBook Air.

Apple may launch Mac products that use own AP [Application Processor] in next 1-2 years. This prediction is based on the assumption that Apple’s self-developed AP performs at a level between Intel’s Atom and Core i3 and is good enough for Mac. Using self developed AP can help Apple better control the timing of Mac launches and Mac product features.

With performance between an Atom and Core i3, the chip would not be suitable for mid- to high-end Macs.

An accompanying table (below) shows an A10X chip made with a 10-nanometer process to be made by Samsung at some point during 2016 …

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A9x Stories June 24, 2013

tsmc-560x369-560x300A report out of DigiTimes this morning claims that TSMC has reached a deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips for future Apple devices. However, as is often the case with DigiTimes, there are a few causes for concern surrounding the report. Leaving the site’s track record on other rumors aside, we must point out that rumors of TSMC supplying chips for Apple’s device are nothing new. In fact, DigiTimes itself reported back in 2011 that Apple would tap the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company in a move away from its long-time supplier and biggest rival Samsung. Needless to say, it hasn’t happened yet, and there’s no proof as of yet to back up follow up reports from last year claiming Apple entered an agreement with the company. DigiTimes isn’t even the first to report it this year: expand full story

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