Why chip names tell us very little about the iPhone 5

Why chip names tell us very little about the iPhone 5

Summary: The problem with processor names is that history tells us that there's very little we can deduce about the underlying hardware from these letters and numbers.

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A report by 9to5Mac claims to have details of the hardware relating to the upcoming iPhone 5, likely to be called "the new iPhone". As interesting as posting CPU and GPU names might be, they tell us very little about the actual hardware.

The new processor is identified as the Samsung 5L8950X ARM CPU, and it is claimed that Apple internally refers to the chip as an A5 part. 9to5Mac claim that no more details can be released about the processor name in order to protect its sources.

There's also a new GPU that form part of the combined CPU/GPU system-on-a-chip (SoC). This is called SGX543RC*. The asterisk replaces a sensitive number that 9to5Mac claim could be used by Apple to identify the person who leaked the information.

No other details are given for either the CPU or GPU.

The problem with trying to read anything into part names -- even if they are correct -- is that history tells us that there's very little we can deduce about the underlying hardware from these letters and numbers.

For example, the iPhone 4 features a processor called the S5L8930. This was a single-core part clocked at around 750 MHz to 800 MHz. Compare this to the S5L8940 powering the iPhone 4S or the S5L8945 present in the iPad 3. These processor name suggests a modest upgrade, but the CPU in the iPhone 4S was a dual-core processor downlocked -- to conserve battery life -- to run at 800 MHz, while the iPad 3 had a dual-core CPU clocked at 1 GHz..

A far less modest upgrade than the name suggested.

The same is true for the GPU. The iPhone 4 had the PowerVR SGX535 which was a single-core graphics processor, while the iPhone 4S had the PowerVR SGX543MP2, which was a dual-core graphics processor. The iPad 3 is kitted out with a PowerVR SGX543MP4, which is a quad-core part.

Again, the part names suggested a minor upgrade, but the hardware itself was a significant upgrade indeed.

It's a shame that the final digit in the name of the GPU has been redacted, because it could give us a clue as to how many cores the new part sports.

Based on rumor and some guesswork, I expect that the iPhone 5 will feature a dual-core CPU, possibly clocked to 1 GHz, and an updated quad-core GPU powering the graphics. This should be more than enough of an upgrade to keep the iPhone ahead of the competition.

Image source: Apple.

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12 comments
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  • android beats apple on specs

    we have quad core androids now, not single or dual as iCrap has.
    The Linux Geek
    • Oh, good grief.

      I have Android on my phone and tablet. I also have 2 iPads. Why the need to post in such a nasty way. The iPhone is fine. Lots of people have them and love them. I prefer Android phones, but I see no need to insult someone else's choices.
      notinkeys
    • Disagree: Android blows but....

      Samsung doesn't think we need a quad core android in north america, regardless of any excuse they may give us to the contrary. The future is not about cpu power any more but the overal user and UI experience. Only the hackers and tinkerers are focussing on specs instead of usage and functionality.
      Spaztic888
      • This is the not the case

        The reason the quad core chip is not here yet is because it does not support LTE. Therefore they do not want to release a new flagship quadcore phone without LTE.
        Jimster480
    • you are right

      There are new quad core androids, so as always the iPhone will come out behind the competition, and all the airheads will run to buy it, thinking its great.
      Jimster480
    • Hey, Troll, get back under the bridge!

      nt
      mlashinsky@...
  • do you mean 6?

    do you mean iPhone 6? the 5th one was called 4s
    doh123
    • They are changing up the numbers now

      So that people dont realize that its the same crap over and over again and quit buying them.
      Jimster480
  • android

    > > > like Arthur replied I am shocked that a student able to earn $9035 in four weeks on the internet. have you seen this web link N u t t y R i c h . c o m
    BattleCraig
  • I dont care about the processor as much as I need a larger screen

    While I know a larger screen is relative to the GPU and CPU on the device, that is not my focus. I am really disappointed with Apple creating midget devices that predominantly serve their dedicated and obsessively loyal customer base. I desperately need a larger screen phone, at least 4.5 inches in size. Apple doesn't see any need for that and they will argue to the end of time why you too don't need it either. Apple will try to convince you that you need and iPhone and iPad. One small little device that fits comfortably in your hand and the other when you need to see larger text and media. This is the only logical explanation I can come up with why Apple refuses to cave-in and give us a signifcantly larger screen, instead of a screen designed for a dwarf.
    Spaztic888
    • Get this straight.... Apple does not hate you:)

      Apple has NEVER been the all things to all people company nor does it even try. Since there are alternatives out there why not stop blanking and go that way? It's all good.

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
    • true

      The screen on the iPhone is small now compared to the screens on most smart phones, but the screens on some of the new phones have reached unexpectedly large sizes.
      Jimster480