Earlier this year, we learnt that Apple has been quietly working on an updated version of the Apple TV. The difference? The processor got bumped from the A5 in the third generation mode to an A5X. Or at least, that’s what everyone thought.
Turns out, however, that is not the case. Mac Rumors got their hands on a production device of this new tweaked Apple TV that has just hit the retail stores and decided to take it apart. And much to their surprise, it is still running an A5 chip, albeit a much smaller one.
If you remember, the A5 chip got a die-shrink last year when Apple switched from the original 45nm process to a 32nm process. This updated A5 then made its way into the iPad 2, third generation Apple TV and later the iPad mini. It seems, however, Apple is not quite ready to retire this chip and has put it through another die shrink.
The latest version of the A5 measures approximately 6mm x 6mm. To put that into context, the 32nm variant measured 8.19mm x 8.68mm and the 45nm version measured 10.09mm x 12.15mm. This suggests that Apple is likely using a 28nm process for the latest version.
The reason this is important is because so far only Samsung has been the manufacturer for Apple’s AX series of processors. However, Samsung currently does not make any 28nm processors for Apple as the Texas facility is not yet ready. So it’s likely that Apple sourced this new chip from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), making it the first time an Apple mobile processor was manufactured by someone other than Samsung.
Coming back to the Apple TV, the new processor doesn’t really mean anything for the consumer as the performance is going to be identical to last year’s third generation model.