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Apple's next-generation iPhone processor is rumored to have entered its final stage of design, according to a recent report by Digitimes. Being called the "A7", Apple's upcoming custom silicon is expected to be the next notch in the company's A-series APU line-up.
Few details are known about the A7 -- including whether or not it will be called an A7 -- but it is expected to be an ARM-based processor based on a 20nm design. Production of the chip is also expected to begin no sooner than Q1 2014, meaning it will be some time before we see new silicon being slipped into our iPhones, iPads and iPods.
Interestingly, investors believe Samsung will serve up half of Apple's A7 orders while TSMC and Intel fab the remaining 40 and 10 percent, respectively.
In November 2012, TSMC announced a roughly $17 billion investment in "Fab 14" -- the same facility rumored to begin cranking out chips for Apple. Little did we know at the time, but TSMC may have been preparing for its upcoming Apple A7 deal since last year.
Until recently, it seemed Samsung had been the go-to manufacturer for Apple when it came to producing mass quantities of processors and memory for its iThings. This would be the first A-series chip not entirely manufactured by Samsung.
There is little doubt the relationship between Apple and Samsung has been deeply marred since their legal falling-out. One of the first signs of this was when Elipda memory chips began displacing Samsung-branded ones. Apple's partial transition to TSMC and Intel is likely an effort to further distance itself from Samsung.
The Apple iPad (3rd-gen) includes a Retina Display operating at a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. Powering the new iPad is a dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics, it also gets upgraded optics in the form of a 5MP backside illuminated sensor that features a 5-element lens, IR filter and ISP built into the A5X chip. Apple claims The new iPad is good for 10 hours of battery life and nine hours when using 4G LTE.
The Apple iPhone 5 features a 4-inch display retains the same 326 PPI density as its predecessor with an effective resolution of 1,126 x 640, and a new Lightning connector. The new handset now features 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi with 802.11n supporting dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. Bluetooth 4.0 is back in addition to GPS and GLONASS for location services.
The iPhone 4S looks identical to last year's model but comes in a new 64GB flavor and upgrades the camera to include an 8-megapixel sensor with improved low-light performance and 1080p video capture. In terms of performance the new iPhone is reportedly up to 2x faster and is also capable of running on faster HSPA+ networks, reaching theoretical download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps.
The iPad mini packs a dual-core A5 processor, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, a FaceTime HD camera, 5-megapixel rear iSight camera with 1080p recording and an optional LTE radio. The Mini sports a 7.9-inch display and 1,024 x 768 resolution. Battery life is estimated at 10 hours.
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