A few days ago, it was revealed that the tweaked Apple TV 3 comes with an A5 chip, as opposed to the earlier expected A5X chip. The chip was considerably smaller as compared to the previous version, with the die size being reduced by a factor of 2.
News of the die-shrunk A5 chip sparked off speculation about Apple’s long rumored tie-up with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and how the company might finally be moving away from Samsung for its processors.
Further investigation into the die-shrunk chip, however, suggests that Apple still hasn’t quite moved production from Samsung, as the Korean company is still manufacturing the A5 chip for the tweaked Apple TV 3.
The die size of the tweaked A5 chip is 6.1 mm x 6.2 mm, as compared to the previous version’s die size of 8.19 mm x 8.68 mm.
Chipworks speculates that the tweaked chip might be a low cost A5 variant that might power future Apple devices that don’t exactly need bleeding edge hardware, for example the iPod touch or the widely-rumored low cost iPhone. Economies of scale dictate that Apple won’t simply create a new version of a chip just for the low cost Apple TV, and is rather using it as a testing bed for future products, further adding credence to Chipwork’s claims.
Chipworks additionally believes that size reduction isn’t the only change in the tweaked A5 chip, and that some functionality has changed as well, though they’re yet to discover the specifics.