iPhone 6s Uses Different-Sized A9 Chips From Samsung and TSMC

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Rafagon

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#1
Adding to the already-existing multiple variables which @Napoleon PhoneApart mentions come into play when comparing battery performance between iPhone 6s and iPhone 6, there may be variations between individual 6s (or 6s Plus) units that will come to light in the coming weeks as a result of this:

Macrumors points out Chipworks' recent revelation that some iPhone 6s units have a CPUs from Samsung, while others have CPUs from TSMC. These CPUs are built on different nodes: Samsung's on a 14-nanometer node, while TSMC's are built on a 16-nonemeter node!

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What if Joe Schmoe realizes he has an iPhone with a Sammy CPU, and Jane Schmäne realizes she has an iPhone with a TSMC CPU? And what if benchmarks show that Sammy-CPU iPhones consistently perform just a bit higher than TSMC-CPU iPhones? And what Sammy-CPU iPhones' batteries consistently perform better than TSMC-CPU iPhones? This has the potential to become a headache for Apple—and one which they well deserve, in my opinion.
 
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Rafagon

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#2
"A9 Chip Manufacturing for iPhone 6s/6s Plus Split 60/40 Between TSMC and Samsung, Not Segmented by Device Size" - Macumors

There is also an app that Hiraku Wang created which will allow a user to identify the manufacturer of the CPU in his or her iPhone 6s or 6s Plus. That said, Macumors and Rafagon both "caution users about installing an app via enterprise certificate from an untrusted developer" such as Mr. Wang. Neither Macumors nor Rafagon recommend that you install the app, which can be found here (requires visiting the link from the iPhone to be tested).

Update: See below for an alternative, made-in-the-USA method.
 
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Nov 9, 2012
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#4
So many people who bought a new Apple iPhone 6s,really don't know what iPhone 6s they really have. I understand they both do work,but do they perform the same?
 
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Rafagon

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#5
So many people who bought a new Apple iPhone6s,really don't know what iPhone6s they really have. I understand they both do work,but do they preform the same?
Your first statement is not correct, and the short answer to your second statement is "yes, they are supposed to."

From Wikipedia: "Apple has let both Samsung and TSMC fabricate the processor, using two different manufacturing processes. The Samsung version is called APL0898, manufactured on a 14 nm FinFET process and is 96² mm large. The TSMC version is called APL1022, manufactured on a 16 nm FinFET process and is 104.5 mm² large. Despite these differences, difference in performance is not expected." (emphasis mine)

Although not expected, if significant differences do come to light, it is a fairly safe assumption that you will read about it in any of the major Apple news websites, and quite possibly, right here on eiC if you stay on top of this thread.
 
Nov 9, 2012
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#6
So your speaking "posting" for all of the iPhone6s buyers? And just how do you really know both phones have the exact performance? Are you sure both have the exact useful battery power? I feel it's really very early in the user cycle of the new Apple iPhones to just say their the exact in every performance item.
 

Napoleon PhoneApart

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#7
Your first statement is not correct, and the short answer to your second statement is "yes, they are supposed to."

From Wikipedia: "Apple has let both Samsung and TSMC fabricate the processor, using two different manufacturing processes. The Samsung version is called APL0898, manufactured on a 14 nm FinFET process and is 96² mm large. The TSMC version is called APL1022, manufactured on a 16 nm FinFET process and is 104.5 mm² large. Despite these differences, difference in performance is not expected." (emphasis mine)

Although not expected, if significant differences do come to light, it is a fairly safe assumption that you will read about it in any of the major Apple news websites, and quite possibly, right here on eiC if you stay on top of this thread.
There will be slight differences, but benchmarks have to be run on phones in the exact same state and that's not going to happen.
 

Rafagon

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#9
So your speaking "posting" for all of the iPhone6s buyers? And just how do you really know both phones have the exact performance? Are you sure both have the exact useful battery power? I feel it's really very early in the user cycle of the new Apple iPhones to just say their the exact in every performance item.
When did I suggest I was speaking for all iPhone 6s buyers? I didn't realize I said or even suggested that that was the case.

I'm not sure that there will never be a difference in performance between iPhones with CPUs from the two different manufacturers in them. That's why I said "They are supposed to."

I also mentioned the possibility that differences may come to light. So right there I'm saying I'm not sure that both have "exact performance" and the "exact useful battery power."
 

Rafagon

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#10
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Rafagon

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#11
Are iPhone 6s units with a TSMC-manufactured A9 chip outperforming those with Samsung-manufactured chips?

Testing with both Geekbench 3 and the humorously-named AnTuTu seem to indicate that this may be the case.

Read more at the article over at Macrumors, who "caution that caution that data points remain few at this time and controlling for variables to accurately focus the comparison only on the differences in the A9 is difficult."
 

fury

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#12
These things throttle very quickly and dramatically compared to previous iPhones, and there's already the variability between each result as it is, from background tasks taking up CPU time to minor drifts in frequency or missing the occasional RAM strobe and having to wait.

Scores taken from average Joe, therefore, are going to vary wildly from person to person and even from one benchmark run to the next by the same person.

There needs to be a large controlled test with identical environments, one that takes throttling out of the equation (so, heatsink the iPhone and/or blow cold air on it) and does dozens and dozens of tests on each processor to average out any variations. I'm not talking 2 or 3 like most of these folks seem to be doing (and I'd bet some of these anecdotal results are from people who have forgotten to turn off low power mode)

Ideally, dig into the phone itself and tap the power supply going to the CPU to measure current directly, instead of trying to hunt down the needle of the CPU inside the haystack of total battery usage. Though, that may be too invasive a measurement and could throw off the results

The unfortunate part is that you can't just walk into an Apple Store and ask for an iPhone with a Samsung A9 and another with a TSMC A9, so acquiring fresh iPhones that are as equal as possible other than the CPU is up to a lottery. I wish I could play, actually. Sounds like fun.

I am as curious as anyone about what the results would be, but my gut is telling me that in a controlled test, the results are close enough to be within a margin of error. I highly doubt Apple would let slip a significant performance or longevity difference.

If it turns out there are significant differences between the two, then my guess is it's down to which one gets hotter faster and therefore throttles more quickly. Once it throttles, power usage goes down and battery life goes up.
 

Rafagon

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#14
Finally, an official, ready-to-go app from the App Store to tell you who manufactured the A9 chip in your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, in case you're wondering.

From an article over at Redmond Pie:

"How to check which chip is in your phone?

In light of these unexpected findings, we wouldn’t blame you for being anxious to know the make of your new iPhone’s A9 chip. If you’re looking for an easy way to do that (other than the aforementioned CPU Identifier), you can download Lirum Device Info Lite to your iPhone from here. The app will tell you the model number. For the iPhone 6s, model N71AP contains the Samsung A9 chip while N71MAP contains the TSMC variant. For the iPhone 6s Plus, the Samsung model is N66AP and its TSMC counterpart goes by N66MAP."
You will probably want to do this sooner rather than later… you know, before someone decides to pull it from the App Store.

It looks like I've got the Samsung-manufactured A9:

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raqball

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#16
You will probably want to do this sooner rather than later… you know, before someone decides to pull it from the App Store
Looks like they have pulled it..

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I've used 'System Status' for years and it will display the same info. I have the paid version and I don't think the free version will give the info about the chip like the paid version does though..

Paid version ($2.99)
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/system-status-activity-monitor/id401457165?mt=8

Free Version
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/system-status-lite-battery/id407752428?mt=8

Looks like my 6S (64GB version) has the TSMC chip

IMG_0001.jpg
 
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Rafagon

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#17
Looks like they have pulled it..
Wow! I wonder if it was Apple, due to the app's ability to spit out a device type number that can be matched to a Samsung or TSMC A9 chip?

And if so… are they going to be pulling all apps capable of doing this now… including the one you've mentioned?

The plot thickens!

Hope it's okay with you, I'm going to post the links you posted as comments on the Redmond Pie article, so that others can continue to determine the make of their CPU. I can certainly mention your username here if you'd like.
 

Mrbjr

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#19
My 6s also has the TSMC chip, for whatever that's worth. I have had excellent battery life so far.
 

Rafagon

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#20
9to5Mac: "Apple acknowledges iPhone 6s, 6s Plus battery life may vary based on Samsung or TSMC chip"

Apple's statement:
With the Apple-designed A9 chip in your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus, you are getting the most advanced smartphone chip in the world. Every chip we ship meets Apple’s highest standards for providing incredible performance and deliver great battery life, regardless of iPhone 6s capacity, color, or model.

Certain manufactured lab tests which run the processors with a continuous heavy workload until the battery depletes are not representative of real-world usage, since they spend an unrealistic amount of time at the highest CPU performance state. It’s a misleading way to measure real-world battery life. Our testing and customer data show the actual battery life of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, even taking into account variable component differences, vary within just 2-3% of each other.

So, Apple: You won't mind giving me a 2 to 3% refund on the purchase price of my iPhone? In the real world, you will hardly notice it.