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iPhone 6s Has Two Kinds Of A9 Chips: One By Samsung, One By TSMC

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The latest iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus have started to make their way to customers since Sept. 25. The new iPhones run on the A9 chip, which has been supplied by two manufacturers.

The A9 processor is Apple's third-generation chip that has a 64-bit architecture. Apple claims that the A9 chip is the most advanced processor used not only in any iPhone but also in any smartphone currently available in the market.

The A9 chip delivers performance that was once found only in desktops. The new A9 chip makes the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 6s Plus up to 70 percent faster when it comes to CPU performance and up to 90 percent faster in regards to GPU performance.

"The A9 chip brings a new level of performance and efficiency to iPhone 6s. Not only a faster experience, but a better one. The A9 chip is capable of gaming console-class graphics performance that makes games and other apps much richer and more immersive," per Apple.

Prior to the launch of the newest iPhones, many rumors noted that both Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will be supplying the A9 chip. However, many experts believed that this may not be the case as TSMC used the 16-nanometer process of making chips while Samsung used the 14-nanometer method.

The latest teardown of the new-generation iPhones conducted by Chipworks confirms that the custom Apple A9 processor has been developed by two manufacturers: Samsung and TSMC.

The Samsung-made A9 chip that bears the product number "APL0898" measures 96 square millimetres. However, the TSMC-produced A9 chip that shows an product number of "APL1022" measures 104.5 square millimetres, which is about 10 percent bigger that the Samsung chip.

"It was a surprise to find two different application processors in two otherwise identical phones," notes Chipworks, "There is a difference in the die size for the APL0898 (Samsung) and the APL1022 (TSMC)."

Chipworks also suggests that sourcing same internals from two-different suppliers indicates "major sourcing problems" for Apple.

It remains unclear if there is any difference in performance in the A9 chips produced by Samsung and TSMC. Chipworks intends to conduct a test to find if any performance differences exist in the chipsets. 

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