Remember when Apple told us that the latest Apple TV has a single-core processor? That's not one hundred percent correct... according to a Chipworks teardown, the new APL2498 version of the Apple A5 chip is actually a dual-core design, and it's built on a smaller 32nm process that might help save battery life. Now, if you're thinking that the Apple TV doesn't need a battery because it has an AC plug, you'd be absolutely right, but the fine folks at Chipworks (and AnandTech) discovered that the very same APL2498 is also shipping in the new $399 iPad 2. We haven't had a chance to test a new iPad 2 quite yet to see if the chip actually leads to longer life, but you can count on it costing less for Apple to produce the (approximately 40 percent smaller) silicon slice.
The other interesting thing about all this is that if the Apple TV does indeed have a dual-core chip, there's a slight chance that some enterprising tinkerer might figure out a way to enable the second core.
Since even the slightest defect can make a whole part of a chip unusable, silicon manufacturers often use a process called "binning" to avoid waste: instead of throwing out a processor with a defect, they just disable that part of the chip (for instance, one of the processor cores) and sell it as a lesser model. However, if a company gets a better silicon yield than they hoped for but still has to sell the lesser chip, they might be forced to substitute fully-functional (but artificially disabled) processors for the good ones, as vendors like AMD have famously done in the past.