By Christian Zibreg on Jul 26, 2014
Combing through our archive of posts mentioning “iPhone” and “NFC” is all it takes to realize that talk of Apple allegedly adopting NFC is intensifying, not dying down. In fact, rumors calling for NFC-enabled iPhones date as far back as 2011!
Thus far, however, the iconic smartphone has not picked up support for NFC technology, which is an acronym for Near Field Communication. On the other hand, Apple has numerous NFC-related patents.
Additionally, it doesn’t really hurt to mention that a growing number of high-end Android handsets include NFC as part of their standard feature set. Well, today a claimed image has surfaced apparently picturing an iPhone 6 printed circuit board with what appears to be an embedded NFC chip… Read More
By Cody Lee on Jul 17, 2014
Last year, Apple reached an agreement with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to make processors for its iOS devices. The deal was part of a larger effort by the iPad-maker to reduce its reliance on Samsung.
But the move may not last long. Citing supply chain sources and KGI Securities analyst Michael Liu, Reuters is reporting that Apple is looking to shift production of its 14-nanometer next-generation chips from TSMC to Samsung… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 11, 2014
Given Apple’s past mobile processor patterns, it’s fairly safe to assume that the new iPhones and iPads – when they drop this Fall – will feature a new A8 chip, designed by Apple and manufactured by both Samsung and Taiwanese chip foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
We also heard whispers that the A8 chip focuses primarily on power efficiency and thus yields only marginal CPU speed increases. However, if a new report out of China is anything to go by, that may not be the case after all as the new 20-nanometer chip is said to boasts clock frequencies of 2.0GHz or more per core… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 10, 2014
It’s been long rumored that Apple for years has been working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent chip foundry, on building its in-house designed processors that power the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Apple TV devices.
Thus far, several conflicting reports have indicated that TSMC has been running test production of the upcoming A8 processor for months now, with other sources insisting that the Taiwanese chip foundry was unsuccessful kickstarting mass-production over ongoing yield issues.
A report Thursday by The Wall Street Journal has it on good authority that TSMC finally began shipping its first batch of microprocessors to Apple in the second quarter… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 9, 2014
It’s hardly a secret that Apple is looking to phase out non-Retina models from its MacBook Pro lineup.
Furthermore, the expected switch to all-Retina notebooks should over time affect Apple’s ultra-portable MacBook Air model, too.
I mean, even Apple’s Taiwan-based suppliers have been adamant that a long-expected version of the MacBook Air with Apple’s Retina display is due in the second half of 2014.
Unfortunately, it’s now almost certain that a Retina MacBook Air won’t see the light of day this year because the crucial components – Intel’s next-generation, extremely low-power Broadwell chips – reportedly won’t be available in volume until mid-2015… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jul 1, 2014
Kicking Samsung out of the supply chain for Apple-designed iPhone and iPad processors may be easier said than done.
For years now Apple’s attempted to kickstart mass production of these chips at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, to no avail.
As TSMC continues to cope with yield issues, technological hurdles and scale, rival Samsung is said to have landed orders for Apple’s A9 processor set to appear inside next year’s iPhone and iPad devices.
According to a new report by DigiTimes, the somewhat accurate Taiwanese trade publication, the sophisticated microprocessor will be fabbed on Samsung’s advanced 14-nanometer process technology, albeit not exclusively… Read More
By Cody Lee on Jun 11, 2014
As expected, touchscreen chipmaker has announced that it will be buying Renesas SP Drivers, the sole supplier of display chips for the iPhone. The deal is said to be worth $475 million—around the same price Apple was rumored to bid for the company earlier this year.
For those unfamiliar with Renesas, it’s a joint venture between Powerchip and Sharp that specializes in building LCD drivers for small and mid-sized LCD panels. These chips determine a display’s quality, and typically account for around 10% of a device’s battery usage… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 27, 2014
Apple has failed to follow through with its rumored acquisition of the chipmaker Renesas Electronics’ mobile display chip division, Renesas SP Drivers. Reuters reported Tuesday that the iPhone maker has definitely lost its bid to acquire Renesas to Synaptics, a company that builds touchpads and touchscreens for an array of mobile and desktop devices.
The development is especially newsworthy given that Synaptics was once an Apple supplier (the company is not listed on Apple’s list of 2014 suppliers). Basically, this means that the powerful consumer electronics powerhouse has gotten outbid by one of its former suppliers… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on May 26, 2014
It’s been speculated for years that Macs which run ARM-based processors instead of Intel chips have been in internal testing for quite some time.
This weekend a French publication has resurrected the rumor, claiming that the iPhone maker is indeed actively prototyping several ARM-based Mac models.
Moreover, the company is also working on a brand new keyboard which integrates the Magic Trackpad, Apple’s multitouch trackpad currently available as a standalone $69 accessory. But why would Apple transition from Intel to ARM-based chips and what benefits would such a major brain transplant bring to your daily computing?
Read on for the full reveal… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 18, 2014
As Apple continues to move anything it can away from Samsung as a result of heightened competition, fierce rivalry and an ugly patent spat between the two technology giants, Samsung seems to be doing the opposite, hoping to to please Apple’s enormous appetite for mobile processors powering iOS devices.
More than a thousand in-house Apple engineers design chips like the A7 processor and the M7 motion coprocessor. The former, the mobile industry’s first 64-bit processor, serves as the engine that drives the latest crop of iOS devices like the iPad Air, the iPad mini with Retina display and the iPhone 5s.
To manufacture these things in volume according to its blueprints, Apple relies on some of the biggest of the chip-making services known as foundries because it doesn’t have or operate its own semiconductor plant, an investment upward of $10 billion.
Samsung semiconductor arm has thus far churned out all Apple-designed mobile chips. Moreover, the company remains adamant to do so in the future despite its straining relationship with Apple and persistent talk of the iPhone maker throwing itself into the arms of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry.
Samsung and GlobalFoundries, the Santa Clara, California headquartered chip foundry, yesterday signed a global partnership to standardize mobile chip production around the same 14nm FinFET process technology. The deal gives Apple the flexibility to build its A-series processors at both foundries, which was previously impossible due to the foundries’ incompatible production processes… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 9, 2014
Following talk of Apple’s rumored initiative that would have it develop its own baseband chips for 2015 iPhones and iPads in-house, AppleInsider has learned the firm’s recently poached a pair of longtime semiconductor engineers from chipmaker Broadcom.
Both men are experienced at building RF hardware and have led the effort to produce baseband transceivers used by Nokia and Samsung devices.
Apple counts Broadcom as its supplier: the iPhone 5s uses a Broadcom touchscreen controller and the handset’s Wi-Fi chip by Murata is based on Broadcom’s BCM4334 module, according to a teardown analysis by repair experts over at iFixIt… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 8, 2014
As you know, Apple’s in-house teams have been designing the engine that drives the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Apple TV devices for years now. However, the company still sources one crucial piece of silicon from a third-party: it buys baseband modems that provide the iPhone and iPad with cellular connectivity from Qualcomm. But even that could soon change, if a new rumor is an indication.
DigiTimes, the hit-and-miss Taiwanese trade publication, is reporting that Apple is planning to form a research and development team to engineer baseband processors for iPhones fully in-house. The move would empower the firm to take an even greater control of its chip destiny.
In years past, Apple acquired several fabless semiconductor makers such as PA Semi and Intrinsity for their talent and technology. Apple now has over a thousand silicon and wireless engineers who design A-series of chips in house by licensing CPU and GPU blueprints from ARM and Imagination Technology, respectively, optimizing their designs for speed, low power consumption and iOS… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 1, 2014
The Japanese business site Nikkei is reporting that Apple is in discussions with chipmaker Renesas Electronics concerning taking over their division that builds mobile display chips, Renesas SP Drivers.
The deal should enable Tim Cook & Co. to bring another technological piece under their roof and help Apple’s engineers “improve image sharpness and battery life” on iPhones.
Renesas Electronics is included on the official list of Apple’s suppliers. Apple is known for investing in its partners and suppliers when it makes sense. For instance, the company holds a ten percent stake in UK’s fabless semiconductor maker Imagination Technologies which provides blueprints for GPUs used in iOS devices… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 20, 2014
Imagination Technologies, a fabless UK-based semiconductor maker, has been supplying PowerVR-branded mobile graphics IP for Apple’s in-house designed iDevice chips since the iPhone’s inception.
Detailed 3D graphics, speedy animations and smooth performance have always been one of the hallmarks of the iPhone and iPad so it’s no surprise that Apple is an investor in Imagination.
Following Imagination’s announcement of a next-generation PowerVR GX6650 GPU that promises to smoke graphics giant Nvidia’s own Tegra K1 mobile processor, Imagination yesterday said it is taking PowerVR graphics architecture to the next level by adding ray-tracing capabilities.
Apple likely won’t utilize this technique in its upcoming A8 chip for the iPhone 6 and 2014 iPads because Imagination’s technology won’t be making its way into products until 2015.
This means that come 2015, your iPhone and iPad could easily give dedicated game consoles a good run for their money graphics-wise, by supporting high-quality lighting and shadows, accurate transparency and photorealistic reflections… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 10, 2014
Shortly after Taiwan’s Commercial Times ran a story about Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) seemingly having started production of an upcoming Apple-designed A8 chip on an exclusive basis (as Samsung reportedly dropped out of the race due to yield issues), an unnamed Samsung executive in a defensive PR move took to blogs to argue that the rumor is greatly exaggerated.
Pouring cold water on the Commercial Times report, the Galaxy maker told ZDNet Korea (via GforGames) that the conglomerate has already signed a contract with Apple concerning next-generation A8 chip production. Moreover, the firm is currently in the final testing phases and is gearing up to kick off mass A8 production at its Austin, Texas facility.
The multi-billion dollar chip plant is almost entirely dedicated to Apple silicon production. Samsung’s semiconductor arm has thus far churned out every iOS device processor since the original iPhone… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 5, 2014
A new story published by Taiwan’s Commercial Times (Google translate) and relayed by Agence France Presse has it that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent foundry, has begun churning out A8 chips that will likely serve as the engine for the coming wave of iOS devices, namely the iPhone 6 and the next iPad.
TSMC also builds Touch ID sensors for the iPhone 5s. The firm is understood to account for the bulk of A8 chip manufacture as Apple’s been attempting to decrease its reliance on Samsung, which up until recently used to exclusively build mobile processors for iOS devices based on Apple’s blueprints… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 5, 2014
Apple’s M7 motion tracking chip found inside the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display is apparently able to track a user’s motion activity even after the battery dies. According to a post by Reddit user Glarznak, his iPhone 5s was able to track his every movement even after the battery died on him. He was able to confirm this by using the Argus fitness app which showed a number of steps for the four days that his phone was dead… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 26, 2014
We know quite a lot about the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint scanner, Touch ID. The advanced sensor works seamlessly and learns more about your prints over time so it continues to expand your fingerprint map as additional overlapping nodes are identified with each use.
It can match prints in any orientation, unless your fingers are greasy or wet, or there’s some dirt or debris on the Home button. There’s a 1 in 50,000 chance of a successful random match with someone else’s print, which is much better than the 1 in 10,000 odds of guessing a typical four-digit passcode.
The Touch ID sensor doesn’t store actual fingerprint images and instead creates an encrypted profile of your print and stores it on a module on the A7 processor called the Secure Enclave that’s walled off from the rest of the system.
After five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts, or after every restart, the system asks for your passcode so that hackers can’t stall for time. These are pretty much key pieces of information on Touch ID that was made public since its inception.
Today, Apple updated its iOS Security white paper [PDF download] with a few previously unknown specifics relating to how Touch ID works side by side with the A7 chip and its Secure Enclave portion to detect a fingerprint match in a highly secure manner. The document also details other security safeguards Apple put in place to prevent tampering with fingerprint data… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 25, 2014
Imagination Technologies, the fabless British semiconductor maker, yesterday at Mobile World Congress detailed its new PowerVR graphics which outperforms Nvidia’s Tegra K1 platform and is a likely candidate for the next iPhone’s GPU. And now, another premium silicon vendor has announced a chip that could just as easily find its way into future iOS devices.
I’m talking about Broadcom, whose Wi-Fi chips and other controller components are used in the iPhone 5s and iPad lineup. The Irvine, California based firm announced at Mobile World Congress a new fifth-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi component which doubles data throughput and increases Wi-Fi coverage by up to 30 percent.
Should Apple choose to tap it, the iPhone 6 and the next iPad will adopt Gigabit Wi-Fi aka 802.11ac, the latest and greatest standard in wireless networking for the consumer market… Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 24, 2014
Apple’s been using GPU parts from Imagination Technologies since switching to its own in-house designed iOS device processors, starting with the iPhone 3Gs in 2009. This UK-based firm does not churn out actual chips. Instead, it licenses out its GPU designs and intellectual property to vendors like Apple, Intel, Qualcomm and many others – that’s why “they” call it a fabless semiconductor maker.
Now, Apple’s engine that powers iOS devices typically combines Imagination’s GPU and ARM’s CPU blueprints with some memory, I/O logic and other supporting functions on a single die, a solution known in the semiconductor industry as a system-on-a-chip (SoC).
Moreover, both Apple and Intel own a stake in Imagination, another indication of its importance to Apple’s mobile future. See, Imagination’s PowerVR graphics processors coupled with Apple’s efficient mobile operating system have been largely responsible for the smooth graphics, transitions and animations seen throughout iOS. It’s the reason iOS is the smoothest mobile OS out there.
At CES earlier this year, Imagination unveiled a new GPU that we suspect should make its way into upcoming iOS devices. Today, the company is detailing some of its more intricate aspects and boy does it make our hearts sing: it supports 4K resolutions and outperforms even Nvidia’s upcoming Tegra K1, apparently enabling the most powerful graphics yet in mobile phones and tablets… Read More