2011 iPhone, iPad to Sport "A8" Dual-Core Chip?
With about half a year to go before the expected fifth-generation iPhone launch, the East Asian supply chain is already humming with rumors about the new phone's design. A supplier of bulk silicon is blabbing
that Qualcomm is buying up wafers at a prodigious rate for iPhone 5 parts, and hinting that it could provide parts for a new Apple system-on-a-chip called the "A8." Nothing is known about this purported SoC, though the name does suggest that Apple could finally be producing a dual-core CPU.
Kinsus is a Taiwanese manufacturer that turns out large quantities of the silicon wafers which serve as the substrate for integrated circuits. An anonymous source at the company told Taiwan's Apple Daily
site that they got an order to deliver 30% to 40% of the flip-chip substrate that Qualcomm will need to make cellular components for the iPhone 5. They claim they'll be delivering the wafers by March, which is right on schedule for the expected 2011 iPhone launch in early summer.
Meanwhile, the same sources are saying they are also getting a piece of the action on a new Apple system-on-a-chip that will go in the iPhone 5 and iPad 2. The report offers no details about the so-called "A8 application processor," and the name is somewhat ambiguous. The A4 is based on the Cortex-A8, so they might be referring to that. However, though some observers
look at the name A8 and think it might mean "A4 times two." Certainly, iOS devices are long-overdue for a multicore speed bump, so it would make sense if the replacement to the A4 to be based on, or modeled on, ARM's dual-core Cortex-A9.
The prospect of Qualcomm's involvement also raises hopes that the coming 2011 iPhone and iPad may include the chipmaker's dual CDMA/GSM chipset, making them true "world-mode" devices. We may know more about this in a relatively short amount of time, if rumors about a February iPad 2 announcement
come to pass.