Apple's new iPad mini 7.9in tablet features an essentially identical processor to the iPad 2 update in May, one based again on the 32nm Samsung process, it has been confirmed by a chip analysis firm.
Prior to today's iPad mini launch, there had been speculation that Apple would once again update the process for its A5 chip, just as it did when launching the A5X for the third-gen iPad earlier this year. (At the same time as noisily launching the 32nm A5X, Apple quietly updated the process for the A5 chips in the iPad 2 and 5th-gen iPod touch.)
A new process or even a new foundry partner seemed particularly likely since the A5 chip was now appearing in an entirely new product line.
Apple's iPad 4 (left) and iPad mini
But instead, Chipworks reports that iFixit's teardown research found no changes. The package markings were identical, and cross-section analysis indicated no changes to the gate pitch and metal gates and confirming that the foundry partner was again Samsung (check the Chipworks link for better explanation of the technicalities).
"The foundry for the A5 is confirmed to be Samsung. Basically, we put our device in for a cross section and the images show the same contacted gate pitch and the same high-k metal gates, so we are comfortable with this conclusion," Chipworks said.
Cross-section of the iPad mini's A5 processor. Picture courtesy of Chipworks