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Samsung supplied ARM core in Apple iPad

June 08, 2010 // Rick Merritt

Samsung provided the ARM core at the heart of the Apple A4 processor that powers the iPad, according to an analysis of the two company's latest chips. The news highlights the growing competition in the expanding mobile market between Samsung and Intel and their ARM and x86 architectures. The 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 core found in the Apple iPad's A4 processor is identical to the core in Samsung's S5PC110A01, the application processor in the Korean giant's recently released Wave S8500 smartphone, according to an analysis from UBM TechInsights. The business unit is a division of United Business Media, the publisher of EE Times.

“Not only is Samsung the manufacturer of both application processors, but both application processors feature the same 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 core manufactured using a 45-nanometer low-power process," said Young Choi, a senior manager at UBM TechInsights who published an analysis of the A4. “With this discovery, we are beginning to see how Samsung is successfully asserting itself as the leader in the wireless and mobile applications processor market,” he said.

Indeed both Samsung and Intel have competed in recent years for design wins in Apple products. To date, Intel has commanded the sockets in Apple Macintosh computers and Samsung dominates in iPod, iPhone and now the iPad.

At Computex in Taipei, Intel announced plans for a next-generation integrated Atom chip targeting netbooks and tablets. Acer said it will use Atom and Intel's MeeGo mobile Linux software in future tablets.

The Apple A4 is expected to be inside the new iPhone announced by Apple Monday. Samsung's next generation phone, the Galaxy S is expected to use the S5PC110A01 and run Google Android.

With these design wins in hand, Samsung is expected maintain its position as the market leader in application processors that it originally attained in 2009, according to UBM TechInsights.

The Samsung S5PC110A01 uses a 512 Kbyte L2 cache and incorporates the PowerVR SGX 3-D graphics core from Imagination Technologies.

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