Samsung-Built Chip Powers iPad 2

Samsung Corp. silicon is once again at the heart of the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad 2 and this time the A5 processor is smart enough to alter its clock speed depending on the application at hand.

Despite the fact that Apple and Samsung are now big rivals in the tablet space, the Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor has once again turned to the South Korean conglomerate to fabricate its new dual-core chip, UBM TechInsights finds. The analysts at our sister United Business Media Ltd. (UBM) (London: UBM.L) unit note that there had been rumors that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) (NYSE: TSM) might have built the new processor.

Instead, like the earlier A4, the ARM Ltd. -derived A5 is once again being built by Samsung using a 45-nanometer process, which helps manufacturers cram more components on the silicon while generally lessening overall power requirements.

The TechInsights team says that the first indication the A5 could be a Samsung-manufactured processor was the similarity in word mark between this font on the new chip and the font in the Apple A4:

TechInsights credits IOSnoops with the discovery that the two cores run a bit slower than the constant 1GHz of the A4 and can adjust clock speeds within a 40MHz range depending on the application being used. In plain English, the twin cores still ramp up performance -- up to 65 percent better than the original iPad -- while the speed adjustments help prolong battery life.

The TechInsights team confirmed that -- as rumored -- the new processor uses low-power DDR2 DRAM (LPDDR2). This memory is specifically designed for improving battery life and performance in smartphones and other devices.

Here's a comparison of the all the Apple processors so far from TechInsights:

David Carey, VP of technical intelligence at UBM TechInsights, is making an initial estimate that the new iPad costs $270 in build materials -- compared to $245 for the older version -- a total that will likely come down over time. See Information Week for more on the iPad 2 teardown.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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