Posted: September 28, 2015

Contributed By Andy Wei

For more in depth information on these topics and more, download the full iPhone 6s teardown report. 

To our surprise, we have found two different A9 application processors!

It had been industry speculation prior to the iPhone 6S launch that Apple would be dual-sourcing the A9 and A9X from Samsung and TSMC, respectively. The A9 would have gone into iPhone 6S/6S+ and the A9X would have gone into iPad Pros, giving Samsung a large edge in volume for the A9 product family.

It was thus a surprise to find two different application processors in two otherwise identical iPhone 6S smartphones. As pictured below, there is a difference in the die size for the APL0898 (Samsung) and the APL1022 (TSMC).  

Benchmarking Point of View

From a benchmarking point of view, the smaller die size shows a leadership in technology scaling for Samsung. 

On the other hand, for Apple to go through all the trouble of dual-sourcing a custom designed part and launching on day one with both parts, suggests major sourcing problems. For cost and power reasons, there is little reason to run a larger die, unless the smaller die was not available at the right volumes.

With the same exact SoC design implemented in two different technologies, it just doesn’t get any better than this for us at Chipworks to benchmark the technologies!

Additional technical information

This blog as well as our initial teardown blog on the iPhone 6s contains some of our initial findings on the new smartphones.

For more in depth information on these topics and more, download the full iPhone 6s teardown report.