Apple's A4 processor takes center stage

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

Apple has deployed its indigenously designed ARM-based A4 processor in a number of new devices, including the iPad, iPhone 4 and upgraded iPod touch.

But why? What makes the chip - which is manufactured by Samsung - so appealing to Apple?

Well, Jeff Brown and David Carey of UBM TechInsights told TG Daily that the powerful and popular processor provides the Cupertino-based company with a significant number of cost-related benefits.

Apple's A4 processor takes center stage "For example, the A4 decreases overall IC cost across all Apple devices. That is why the new iPod touch and Apple TV are tagged at lower price points, while the manufacturing costs of the iPad and the iPhone have also dropped concurrently," explained Brown and Carey.

"Of course, there is also the ease of implementation of design. By deploying the A4 processor across multiple platforms, it makes it easier for Apple's internal design team to develop the software and firmware for each device. 



"And by using the A4 in Apple TV (as we're speculating), this mobile applications processor now is a processor - its reuse in this application redefines its purpose."


The two also noted that Apple's recent product refresh illustrates Club Cupertino's "tried-and-true" process of reusing (effective) components in new products.

"With the Apple TV, we can expect to see the A4 and the same Broadcom BCM4329 wireless chip that has been used in the iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone 4. 

"And with the iPod Touch, you'll see the A4 (confirmed), the Retina display (which means the same TI touchscreen controller), the same image sensors from Omnivision and the same gyroscope from ST Micro (the LIS331DLH)."


Additional component breakdown and cost estimates include:
 
32GB version of Apple iPod Touch

  • Main Electronics - $94.00
  • Battery - $2.50
  • Display/Touchscreen - $32.00
  • Cameras - $5.50
  • WiFi/BT - $5.00
  • Non Electronic Parts - $8.00
  • Final Assembly & Test - $1.00

Total estimated cost: $148.00
 
New Apple TV

  • A4 - $15
  • Processor NAND/SDRAM MCP - $4
  • 512MB Buffer DRAM - $8
  • Ethernet - $3
  • WiFi 802.11n - $6
  • HDMI - $2
  • Other Chips - $3
  • Other Components - $2
  • Enclosures/Mechanicals  $4

 Total estimated cost: $47