Contrary to what we thought yesterday based on visual estimation of the A5X die, Chipworks has (presumably) measured the actual die itself: 162.94mm^2. While the A5 was big, this is absolutely huge for a mobile SoC. The table below puts it in perspective.

CPU Specification Comparison
CPU Manufacturing Process Cores Transistor Count Die Size
Apple A5X 45nm? 2 ? 163mm2
Apple A5 45nm 2 ? 122mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 4C 32nm 4 995M 216mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT1) 32nm 2 504M 131mm2
Intel Sandy Bridge 2C (GT2) 32nm 2 624M 149mm2
NVIDIA Tegra 3 40nm 4+1 ? ~80mm2
NVIDIA Tegra 2 40nm 2 ? 49mm2
The PowerVR SGX 543MP2 in Apple's A5 takes up just under 30% of the SoC's 122mm^2 die size, or around 36.6mm^2 just for the GPU. Double the number of GPU cores as Apple did with the A5X and you're looking at a final die size of around 160mm^2, which is exactly what Chipworks came up with in their measurement.

Update: Chipworks confirmed the A5X is still built on Samsung's 45nm LP process. You can see a cross-section of the silicon above. According to Chipworks' analysis, the A5X features 9 metal layers.
Note that this is around 2x the size of NVIDIA's Tegra 3. It's no surprise Apple's GPU is faster, it's spending a lot more money than NVIDIA to deliver that performance. From what I hear, NVIDIA's Wayne SoC will finally show what the GPU company is made of. The only issue is that when Wayne shows up, a Rogue based A6 is fairly likely. The mobile GPU wars are going to get very exciting in 2013.
Image Courtesy iFixit
Thanks to @anexanhume for the tip!
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  • alent1234 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    huge battery and same usage time meant something is up

    why is apple still using 45nm? steve jobs should never have sued samsung
  • A5 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    I'm not sure who they contract their manufacturing out to now, but it is a very real possibility that they couldn't get 28nm going in time to hit Apple's production timeline. You have to remember that these chips have probably been in production for several months.

    I'm guessing that the "A6" that showed up in the beta code is a die shrink of this chip for the next iPhone. I don't think they'll have an A15 design ready for a July launch.
  • alent1234 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    samsung is still making them along with the screens. the least apple could have done was 32nm.

    not sure if it's apple staying with the same process or samsung not offering to make CPU's for them on anything better and the move to TSMC is taking time
  • scook9 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Probably because the 45nm node is extremely well optimized at this point. Apple cannot afford low yields with the demand they see.
  • dagamer34 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    It's not as if Samsung has released any phones with 32nm chips in them.
  • quiksilvr - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    *Facepalm* Samsung WAS making a 28nm chip for Apple as far back as October. It was going to be the new A6 and an even thinner iPad 3 was supposed to happen. BUT since Apple got their panties in a bunch Samsung told Apple to piss off.
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, March 17, 2012 - link

    28nm yields are relatively low across the board. For the number of iPads Apple is going to be selling this year, it makes sense that they went with the more dependable 45nm process. It is either that or deal with not being able to make enough iPads to satisfy demand.

    Samsung denying components out of spite is a ridiculous idea. They may be competing in the consumer products division, but in terms of components Apple is by far Samsung's largest client.
  • pedrostee - Sunday, March 18, 2012 - link

    you appear certain in your reply.. any evidence or just blowin smoke?
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Why not? I'm sure at least 50 million dump yuppies will rush out to throw away their ipoop 2 in favor of dropping yet another $500-$1000 on an ipoop 3.

    And what do you get for that extra $500 to $1000? A slightly prettier homescreen to stare at after safari crashes!
  • name99 - Friday, March 16, 2012 - link

    Read most of the other comments in this thread. Then ask yourself if you are not, perhaps, a little ashamed of your particular contribution to this debate.

    We all have bad days, we all make mistakes. But you can make up for it by, in future, perhaps considering the tone of the people around you and trying to match that tone.

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