Apple’s fondness for anorexic handhelds knows no bounds, and if this alleged deal with the Asian foundry holds water, expect to see its waistband tighten further. Rumoured back before the iPad 2 launch, the house-that-Steve-built’s reportedly been eyeing Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp to produce an ‘A6′ for its upcoming iPhone refresh. While it’s easy to dismiss this purported move as a direct diss to Samsung, what’s more likely is that Cupertino’s engaging in a competitive bit of size does matter — specifically, the A5′s 45nm process. A transition to newer, lower power 28nm ARM chips would give Jonathan Ives’ employer a distinct market advantage, dwarfing even TSMC’s current 40nm in the process. While it’s all still just speculation for now, only time and an iPhone 5tear-down will tell for sure.
Looks like 3D isn’t just a fad, folks, so long as we’re talking about silicon — Intel just announced that it has invented a 3D “Tri-Gate” transistor that will allow the company to keep shrinking chips, Moore’s Law naysayers be darned. Intel says the transistors will use 50 percent less power, conduct more current and provide 37 percent more speed than their 2D counterparts thanks to vertical fins of silicon substrate that stick up through the other layers, and that those fancy fins could make for cheaper chips too — currently, though, the tri-gate tech adds an estimated 2 to 3 percent cost to existing silicon wafers. Intel says we’ll see the new technology first in its 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs, going into mass production in the second half of the year, and it’s planning 14nm chips in 2013 and 10nm chips in 2015. Also, 3D transistors won’t be limited to the cutting edge — Intel reps told journalists that they “will extend across the entire range of our product line,” including mobile devices. Three videos and a press release await you after the break.
Woah there, Mr. Speedy. We’ve barely caught up with the 10Gbps Thunderbolt interconnect, debuted in the new Macbook Pro, and now Intel’s hyperactive researchers are already chattering away about something five times faster. They’re promising a new interconnect, ready in four years, that will combine silicon and optical components (a technology called silicon photonics) to pump 50Gbps over distances of up to 100m. That’s the sort of speed Intel predicts will be necessary to handle, say, ultra-HD 4k video being streamed between smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes and TVs. Intel insists that poor old Mr. Thunderbolt won’t be forced into early retirement, but if we were him we’d be speaking to an employment lawyer right about now.
When it comes to mobile RAM, capacity is often what pops to mind first while we overlook speed and power consumption, but Samsung’s latest delivery is worth the extra attention. Earlier this month, said Korean giant started producing 30nm 4Gb 1066Mbps LPDDR2 (or simply Mobile DDR2) chips, in order to phase out its 40nm ones that topped 2Gb at a 800Mbps transmission rate. To put it in perspective, a 40nm 1GB package consists of four 2Gb chips, whereas the new 30nm one will only need two 4Gb chips, thus reducing the package thickness by 20 percent (down to 0.8mm) and power consumption by 25 percent. It’s hard to tell when we’ll start seeing these bits of silicon entering the consumer market, but Samsung’s already stamping out 1GB modules this month, with a 2GB version to follow next month. Oh yes, we’re definitely liking the sound of 2GB RAM for mobile phones.
iPad 2 specs discerned, 900MHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9 and PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU blow away graphical benchmarks
iFixit may have physically uncovered Apple’s latest silicon, but it’s the processor gurus that have discovered what’s truly inside — using software benchmarks, they’ve unearthed the speeds and feeds of the Apple A5. As you’ll no doubt be aware having read our headline above, there actually isn’t a 1GHz CPU at the helm, as AnandTech and IOSnoops report the dual-core ARM Cortex A9 is dynamically clocked around 900MHz, likely in search of reduced power consumption. Perhaps more interestingly for all you gamers in the audience, the iPad 2 reports that it has a dual-core PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU on the die as originally foretold — and, spoiler alert — it mops the floor with both the original iPad and the Motorola Xoom. Though the new chip didn’t quite demonstrate 9X the graphical prowess of its predecessor, it rendered 57.6 frames per second in a GLBenchmark test where the (admittedly higher-res) Tegra 2 tablet managed only 26.7fps, and last year’s iPad pulled only 17.6fps. That’s some serious Tai Chi. Hit up our source links to see the difference it can make in games like Infinity Blade.