Apple’s Red Hot A9 Processor Reportedly Dual-Sourced From Samsung And TSMC

As we've seen (and shared), Apple's custom A9 processor found in its recently launched iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus smartphones offers killer performance, especially considering it's a dual-core part. Interestingly, it appears that Apple is relying on two different chip manufacturers to build the A9 part.

The folks at Chipworks claim to have found two different A9 chips, one belonging to Samsung (APL0898) and one belonging to TSMC (APL1022). That's a bit unusual for Apple, which typically prefers to source production of its application processors from a single manufacturer. What this suggests is that neither manufacturer is up to the task of supplying enough A9 chips to meet demand, lest Apple has some other reason for dual sourcing production.

A9 Dies

What's at least equally interesting is that the two chips differ in die size. Samsung is believed to be using a 14nm manufacturing process resulting in a die size that's about 10 percent smaller than the one being produced by TSMC, which is likely using a 16nm FinFET process.

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

Further tests are being conducted to see if one chip outperforms the other in any meaningful way. Our guess is that there will be ever-so-slight differences in performance, but nothing major between the two.