By Christian Zibreg on Apr 21, 2016
Shares of Qualcomm have dropped two percent after CEO Steve Mollenkopf told analysts on an earnings call Wednesday that it may lose some of its “biggest customers” as they are going with a “second source,” Bloomberg reported.
The fabless chip maker’s been Apple’s exclusive supplier of LTE modems for over three years now.
That’s about to change soon: Mollenkopf is now “assuming” that a major customer will give orders to a rival, indicating a potential loss of business for the company. Analysts said they think the customer is Apple and the rival is Intel. Read More
By Anthony Bouchard on Mar 31, 2016
Following the first day of availability of the iPhone SE, iFixit has gotten their hands on their own unit and has started their ritualistic practice of disconnecting every little screw, cable, and hinge that comes on it.
The iFixit teardown comes a day after Chipworks’ version, which revealed a lot of familiar parts in the iPhone SE that could be found in previous iPhone models, such as the 5s, 6, and 6s.
iFixit has not only confirmed these findings from Chipworks, but also provides some new insight about the iPhone SE‘s parts that is sure to interest its consumers. Read More
By Anthony Bouchard on Mar 31, 2016
The first legitimate hardware teardown of Apple’s new 4-inch smartphone, the iPhone SE, has been conducted by Chipworks. Apple just unveiled this new handset at its recent ‘Let us loop you in’ event alongside the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
The teardown finds that the iPhone SE is more than just a new generation of smaller iPhone from Apple, but that it’s actually a very clever device that takes the best from the performance world and combines it with the economics of older devices. This allows Apple to provide a product at a cheaper cost, but with similar performance.
As the teardown reveals, the iPhone SE is actually a Frankenstein of iPhone 5s, 6, and 6s parts that all work together to create a powerful 6s-like performance experience in a smaller 4-inch package. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 18, 2016
Fabless semiconductor company Broadcom is looking to phase-out its Wi-Fi chip-making business, according to industry sources who spoke with Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes. Broadcom is currently Apple’s top supplier of Wi-Fi chips used in Macs, iPhones, iPads and iPods so it looks like the Cupertino firm might be forced to find a new supplier soon.
Broadcom designs its own products but contracts out actual silicon production to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), which also builds Apple-designed application processors for iOS devices. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 16, 2016
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s top semiconductor foundry, and ARM holdings plc, a British multinational fabless semiconductor designer, have joined forces to make an upcoming 7-nanometer FinFET process a reality in time for volume production in early-2017.
TSMC currently manufactures the iPhone 6s’s A9 chip on its 16-nanometer process, while Samsung-made A9 chips are fabbed on a smaller 14-nanometer process.
The timing of TSMC’s seven-nanometer FinFET process suggests it might be used to fabricate Apple-designed ‘A11’ processors for the iPhone 8 in 2017. By comparison, Intel has said it will produce 10nm node processors in the second half of 2017. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 4, 2016
Chip giant Intel has secured orders for a “significant portion” of cellular modems on Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7, according to a note CLSA Securities analyst Srini Pajjuri sent to clients, a copy of which was obtained by NDTV.
The current iPhone 6s generation uses Qualcomm’s MDM9635M LTE Cat. 6 cellular modem and the previous-generation iPhone 6 series is outfitted with Qualcomm’s MDM9625M modem so if this particular analyst is right, Qualcomm is set to lose some serious money should Apple dual-source cellular modems for the next iPhone. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 22, 2016
The world’s most powerful government has locked horns with the world’s most powerful corporation in a battle that Apple implies has the potential to affect civil rights for a generation. As you know, the Justice Department gave Apple until February 26 to respond to its court order.
In it, the government is asking Apple’s engineers to create a special version of iOS that would allow brute-force passcode attacks on the shooter’s phone electronically.
Now, some people have suggested that the government’s experts could make an exact copy of the phone’s flash memory to brute-force its way into encrypted data on a powerful computer without needing to guess the passcode on the phone or demand that Apple create a version of iOS that’d remove passcode entry restrictions.
While this is technically feasible, the so-called de-capping method would be painstakingly slow and extremely risky, here’s why. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 19, 2016
A third-generation iPad Air will run an ‘A9X’ processor and an ‘iPhone 5se’ will be outfitted with Apple’s ‘A9’ chip, according to Bloomberg Bussinessweek’s profile of Johny Srouji, Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies.
“In March, Apple intends to announce an updated iPad and smaller-screen iPhone featuring the latest A9x and A9 chips, according to a person familiar with the plans, who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly,” reads a passage from the Bloomberg article. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 18, 2016
Bloomberg Businessweek has published an interesting profile of Johny Srouji, Apple’s silicon chief (official title: Senior Vice President of Hardware Technologies), who joined the company back in 2008 to lead development of the A4, the first Apple-designed system-on-a-chip that made its debut in the iPhone 4 and the original iPad.
Apple is now widely praised by critics and fans alike for taking its chip destiny in its own hands. The article tells an in-depth story of how then CEO Steve Jobs had the foresight and courage to take Apple on a risky path to make it a fabless silicon designer.
Apple-designed mobile chips went on to differentiate iPhones and iPads on the hardware level from competing devices using off-the-shelf parts. The story also gives us our very first peek at chip-durability testing at an unmarked Apple lab in Cupertino. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 16, 2016
Korean publication ETNews is claiming that Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 smartphone refresh will reduce electromagnetic interference by encapsulating major chips, including its application processor, into an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding.
According to ETNews, key iPhone 7 chips such as the main ‘A10’ processor, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules, cellular modems and RF chips will be protected by EMI shielding, which involves covering a chip’s surface with ultra-thin metal. Prior iPhones have used EMI shielding on the printed circuit board and the connectors to reduce electromagnetic interference. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Dec 10, 2015
Although the present-generation A9 and A9X processors are being built by both Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC) and Samsung, it appears that Samsung will be left out entirely from the lucrative contract to build the forthcoming A10 chipset for 2016 iOS devices.
Barron’s on Thursday cited analyst Bonil Koo with investment bank UBS as saying that all A10 orders will be exclusively handled by TSMC, posing a major problem for Samsung. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 12, 2015
The powerful Apple-designed ‘A9X’ system-on-a-chip—the engine that drives the iPad Pro—outperforms its predecessor inside the iPad Air 2 by a large margin while offering approximately the same performance as Intel’s Core i5 processor for notebooks from 2013.
In terms of graphics, the iPad Pro still manages to outperform the fluidness of the iPad Air 2 despite having more pixels on a bigger screen. That’s the gist of a series of synthetic benchmarks that ArsTechnica ran as part of its massive review of the iPad Pro in order to determine just how speedy Apple’s new tablet is. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 12, 2015
Although Apple’s iPad Pro Tech Specs webpage states in black and white that the device’s A9X system-on-a-chip includes an embedded ‘M9’ motion coprocessor, just like its A9 counterpart powering the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, the tablet doesn’t support untethered ‘Hey Siri’ functionality when not connected to power, AppleInsider discovered yesterday. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 23, 2015
Apple is thought to become the first customer that will take advantage of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) InFO chip manufacturing process in building in-house designed A10 chips for 2016 iOS devices, potentially allowing it to trim some fat off the next iPhone model.
Taking a step back to take a look at the bigger picture, we analyze Apple’s chip efforts thus far and make educated guesses as to what advances in terms of silicon design and integration the next iPhone might allow.
We’ll also reflect on how having the foresight to take its chip destiny into its own hands more than five years ago has helped Apple differentiate itself from competition. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 19, 2015
According to a report this weekend from VentureBeat, chip giant Intel has assembled a team of 1,000 engineers who are working hard on adapting its LTE modem for an ‘iPhone 7.’
The move potentially indicates a major loss for Qualcomm, which supplied LTE modems for the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus and previous iPhones. Intel’s lauded 7360 LTE modem chip is being reworked for an iPhone, the story asserts.
Moreover, VentureBeat claims that Apple could, for the first time ever, embed the modem chip into its in-house designed A-series system-on-a-chip, resulting in an even tighter component integration. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 16, 2015
Bad news for Samsung as rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has been predicted to account for a cool 100 percent of orders for Apple’s next-generation A10 processor expect to serve as the powerful engine for 2016 iPhones and iPads.
Taiwanese media quoted a JP Morgan analyst as saying that Samsung will be left out entirely from the lucrative contract to build these chipsets. The current A9 and A9X processors are being built by both TSMC and Samsung. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 14, 2015
The Apple-designed, TSMC/Samsung-manufactured A7, A8 and A8X mobile chips that power the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices released since 2013 have been found to infringe technology patents owned by the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).
As a result, Apple is now facing a damages payout of $862.4 million, Reuters reported yesterday. The aforesaid chips power the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini with Retina display, iPad mini 3 and iPad mini 4. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 8, 2015
For the first time ever, Apple has dual-sourced the engine that drives the new handsets from more than one supplier. Both Samsung and rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) won contracts to build the Apple-designed ‘A9’ system-on-a-chip for the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
While these chips offer literally the same compute and graphics power, both synthetic benchmarks and real-life tests have shown small yet notable difference in terms of battery as the TSCM-built A9 appears to be more power efficient than its Samsung counterpart.
The question is, does your brand spanking new iPhone 6s have the TSMC or Samsung-built chip? You can find that out in just a few simple steps, let me show you how. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 8, 2015
Does your iPhone 6s or iPhone 6s Plus come outfitted with Samsung or TSMC-built A9 processor? The answer to that question could determine how long your device will run before its battery needs recharging.
Your key takeaway is this: while the dual-sourced chips perform identically in synthetic Geekbench tests in terms of sheer CPU compute power and GPU performance, there’s a marked difference in observed battery life ranging from six to eleven percent.
You could argue the difference is barely felt in day-to-day use, but I beg to differ: energy efficiency is paramount for mobile devices and the battery-friendlier the main processor is, the longer it will run on a single charge. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 29, 2015
An initial analysis of the Apple-designed A9 system-on-a-chip powering the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, conducted by semiconductor experts over at Chipworks, has identified both Samsung and rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company as manufacturers of the package.
What’s really interesting is that the A9 comes in two sizes, depending on who manufactured it, with the Samsung-built units being a bit smaller than those manufactured by TSMC. This is the first time an Apple-designed processor for an iPhone came in two different sizes. Read More