Analyst Details the Development of the A6 Chip Within the iPhone 5

We’ve already learned Apple new A6 processor was designed internally and produced by Samsung. Now, CNET points to analyst Linley Gwennap’s report, which details some more information on the development of the A6 processor.

Here are some snippets of the report highlights, as noted by CNET:

  • StrongARM: Apple’s interest doing its own central processing unit (CPU) design dates back to its $278 million acquisition of PA Semi in April 2008. Some of the team members had previously worked on low-power StrongArm processors under PA Semi CEO Dan Dobberpuhl at Digital Equipment (DEC) in the 1990s. The “CPU design team had developed a high-performance PowerPC processor under the leadership of Jim Keller and Pete Bannon.”
  • A6: By early 2010, the team was done with the A6 microarchitecture design and started the physical-design phase. “To bolster its physical-design capabilities” Apple bought chip design house Intrinsity for about $120 million in April 2010. “This deal brought in an experienced team of chip designers that specialized in high-speed physical design, having just finished boosting the speed of Samsung’s Hummingbird CPU (which Apple used in its A4 processor). The A6 taped out about a year later, and Apple received the first samples last summer. To support the iPhone 5 launch, the new processor must have been cleared for production around June,” Gwennap wrote.
  • North of $500 million spent: Apple spent about $400 million to buy PA Semi and Intrinsity, tens of millions for an ARM CPU license, and probably more than $100 million to support its CPU design efforts over a span of four years. “It appears that the end result will be that Apple ships a Cortex-A15-class CPU about three months before arch-enemy Samsung does.”

A purported Geekbench result for the iPhone 5 surfaced and the score revealed it was faster than any current Android smartphone, even though it was running just two cores. Looks like Apple’s investment into chip R&D has paid off, as the current A6 is able to run faster and be equally as efficient even though there’s a larger screen and LTE support.