With Apple’s A5 processor being thrashed in every respect in performance by the Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor, Apple is preparing for the next generation A6 processor. The Tegra 3 based Transformer Prime from Asus has received a good response from reviewers and is bound to eat up the market share from Apple ( though not to great extent). On the other hand we have $199 Amazon Kindle featuring Texas Instrument’s Dual Core Cortext A9 based processor that too has performance comparable to Apple’s A5.
If Apple is unable to keep the lead on processor front, the media coverage of the performance with other Android based Tablets will put competitive pressure on Apple. Android Tablet manufacturers including Samsung, Asus, HP are learing their lessons fast and improving on the look and feel of the tablets besides matching or improving on the performance. On the price front Apple is feeling the heat from Amazon’s Kindle.
So unless Apple makes significant effort on processor end, it may start loosing market share. Apple’s A6 will hopefully make it regain some of the losses to the Tegra 3. It has been reported that TSMC will be building the A6 processor with 28 nm technology and will use the 3D die technology. We expect the production to start in second Quarter of 2012 giving Asus Transformer Prime an advantage of full 6 months. The Asus Transformer is releasing on December 19, 2011. And by the time Apple comes with A6, the next iteration of the Tegra 3 will continue the Apple’s lag in the processor performance.
Besides processor, other parts are ready and apparently it is learnt that Apple has started the manufacture of higher resolution display.
The A6 will obviously be a quad core processor and almost certainly be based upon the Cotex A9. The 28 nm technology will offer added advantage to Apple, reducing die size, and improve the power consumption envelope.
The A6 processor being delayed, is it possible that Apple releases an iPad 2S in early 2012 with higher resolution display and using same A5 processor ?
According to Kevin Karrel – ” TSMC’s 3D stacking technologies include silicon-interposer and bump-on-trace methods. Apple’s choice of this approach would be a boon to TSMC packaging partner Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE). The earlier A4 and A5 processors use traditional die stacking to combine the processor and a DRAM chip in a single package. The A6 could use 3D stacking to incorporate additional DRAM or flash memory, or to boost interconnect speed.”