1080p Apple TV has a dual-core processor after all

Die photo of Apple TV 3rd-gen

Some recent poking around inside Apple's third-generation TV unit show that there's actually a dual-core A5 processor inside, and not the single-core CPU listed on the spec sheet. It's possible Apple's just reusing iPad 2 parts that have a bad core, and simply disabling it. Further investigation shows that the chip was actually made using a 32 nm process, compared to the standard 45 nm found elsewhere in Apple products.

The last teardown we had seen of the new Apple TV revealed extra RAM to handle 1080p video playback. The third-gen Apple TV also introduced a new user interface, though apparently the venerable Steve Jobs wasn't a huge fan.

It's entirely possible that this new manufacturing process will actually be squeezed into the iPhone 4S to save space and improve battery performance, perhaps with an Apple A5X variant we heard about previously?

Source: Chipworks

UPDATE: According to some digging around in a restore image, there are already plenty of iPad 2 models out there using the same processor.

Simon Sage

Editor-at-very-large at Mobile Nations, gamer, giant.

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Reader comments

1080p Apple TV has a dual-core processor after all

4 Comments

I thought all processors were the same, just some cores were disabled at the factory to make them whichever series they are, leave it alone and you get a top end i7, burn a few cores makes it an i5 burn a few more and you get an i3. So this would make sense that this is the same processor as everything else apple, they just burnt a one of the cores to disable it. It makes it easier for the production lines.

Your example is wrong as there are other differences between the i3 i5 and i7 (hyper threading, cache amounts, etc., but that is how binning works with differently clocked CPUs that are otherwise the same. This move by Apple is actually very smart. They are debugging the move to what's called a new process node (a die shrink) by producing dual core CPUs where only a single functional core needs to come out of it. The yields after moving to a new node are often lower and a fair number of those failures would cause only one core to work, so it's win win.

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