By Christian Zibreg on May 7, 2015
At the heart of the Apple Watch is Apple’s in-house designed ‘S1’ component that literally puts an entire computer architecture onto a single chip — an industry term you’re looking for is system-in-package (SiP) design.
A recent teardown analysis by ABI Research has managed to identify 512MB of RAM, an ARM-based CPU, a Broadcom Wi-Fi module, an accelerometer and gyroscope, along with a few other components, packed inside the S1.
Today, semiconductor experts over at Chipworks have updated their teardown of the S1 package with a few interesting tidbits related to the type of process technology used while revealing some rather unique design solutions making such small yet powerful package possible. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Apr 30, 2015
The Apple Watch is driven by Apple’s in-house designed system-in-package (SiP) processor, called S1. Laying flat in the bottom of the Watch casing, it integrates many subsystems into one remarkably compact module, essentially miniaturizing an entire computer architecture onto a single chip.
Because it’s completely encapsulated in resin to protect the electronics, neither experienced teardown wizards over at iFixit nor semiconductor experts at Chipworks were able to take a detailed look at the S1 innards without basically destroying the package.
Thankfully, ABI Research saw to that.
Thursday, the research firm has published its teardown analysis which delves into the S1 to identify a number of individual components that make up the SiP. Here’s what they found. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Mar 26, 2015
TSMC, or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited, is expected to remain the major supplier of Apple’s in-house designed processors for the upcoming iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.
In addition, the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry is said to supply 20-nanomenter chips for an upcoming iPhone 6c model, expected to arrive as Apple’s new entry-level iPhone with a price tag between $400 and $500.
An Apple-designed system-on-a-chip for the next-generation iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models should be called the ‘A9′ and will be built on TSMC’s 16-nanometer FinFET process technology, industry sources told DigiTimes. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Feb 26, 2015
Apple’s focus on designing iPhone and iPad processors in-house is reportedly expanding with news that CEO Tim Cook’s visit to Israel this week is linked to efforts to increase its own chip design prowess, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Cook earlier in the week met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and is expected to meet with former President Shimon Peres later this week. The newspaper added that Apple’ hired most of the Israeli employees of a chip-design division that Texas Instruments shut down in 2013 in Ra’anana, some 10 miles north of Tel-Aviv. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 28, 2015
News broke today that Samsung’s upcoming flagship, the fabled Galaxy S6, won’t be using Qualcomm’s new mobile system-on-a-chip, the Snapdragon 810.
As Re/code noted, the revelation came indirectly, via Qualcomm’s earnings call today, as the firm had to tell investors “a large customer’s flagship device” won’t be shipping with the Snapdragon 810 inside.
Lost business has forced Qualcomm to cut its outlook for the fiscal year slightly. The semiconductor maker did not say which client, and why, has dropped the Snapdragon 810.
However, a week ago Bloomberg learned that Samsung had opted to drop the 810 from its upcoming flagship due to overheating problems. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 26, 2015
Apple’s forthcoming S-refresh of the iPhone — let’s call it an ‘iPhone 6s’ — is likely going to run an in-house designed ‘A9’ mobile processor and as much as 75 percent of the chips will be manufactured by Samsung, Reuters reported Monday citing a story in the South Korean newspaper Maeil Business.
Samsung is going to make the chips from its factory in Austin, Texas though it’s unclear how much the contract is worth (likely billions) and which supplier has picked up the remaining 25 percent of orders. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 15, 2015
Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) on Thursday announced record profits in the fourth quarter of 2014 buoyed by its lucrative chip-making deal with Apple for the new iPhones.
In addition, the firm announced migrating to a much finer 10-nanometer process technology this year after being among the first to adopt 20-nanometer chip-making technology in 2014.
According to KGI Securities analyst Ming Chi-Kuo, TSMC would not only pick up 100 percent of orders for Apple’s “A9X” chip, which should be used in an iPad refresh this Fall, but also get to produce an “S2” processor for a second-generation Apple Watch and an “A10” chip that should power a 2016 iPhone model, likely to be called “iPhone 7”. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Jan 5, 2015
Monday, chip giant Intel took the wraps off a range of “Broadwell-U” processors poised to find their way into a MacBook near you. The fifth-generation Intel Core processor family utilities Intel’s 14-nanometer manufacturing process to deliver more speed and lower power consumption.
The new chips could possibly pave the way to a rumored MacBook Air model with a Retina display measuring twelve inches diagonally (the current Air models come in 11.6 and 13.3-inch varieties). Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Nov 4, 2014
Although Apple hasn’t officially launched its HomeKit yet (they’re still finalizing the protocol), first certified chips that run a beat version of the upcoming HomeKit firmware have begun shipping to smart home device vendors such as makers of connected climate controls, lighting, security cameras and door locks, Forbes reported Tuesday.
The iPhone maker requires that accessory makers use officially certified Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips from Apple-approved chipmakers Texas Instruments, Marvell and Broadcom, which have now started shipping HomeKit chips to device vendors. By all accounts, there shouldn’t be too long a wait until first HomeKit-certified smart home devices arrive. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 15, 2014
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s leading independent semiconductor foundry, has landed a contract to fabricate Apple’s upcoming A8X mobile processor, Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes reported Wednesday.
The chip, which leaked on claimed photographs earlier this week, is said to feature faster graphics.
In addition to an improved GPU, it reportedly incorporates twice as much RAM as its A8 counterpart, which powers the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As such, the A8X should power Apple’s rumored ‘iPad Pro’ tablet with an ultra high-resolution 12.9-inch screen. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Oct 2, 2014
Echoing previous rumors, Samsung of South Korea confirmed to reporters Thursday that it will start churning out mobile processors for Apple before end of the year, ZDNet reported. The chips, likely to be branded under the “A9” moniker, will be manufactured on Samsung’s cutting-edge 14-nanometer process technology.
The confirmation came through the mouth of Kim Ki-nam, president of Samsung’s semiconductor-making arm and head of System LSI business.
Speaking to reporters at company headquarters in Seoul, Ki-nam quipped that his company’s fortunes “will improve positively” once sales are boosted thanks to the lucrative Apple chip deal. The new mobile processor should make their way into 2015 iPhone and iPad devices. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Sep 9, 2014
Apple’s new iPhones — the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus — come outfitted with Apple’s in-house designed A8 system-on-a-chip which has an astounding two billion transistors, twice as many as its predecessor, the A7.
The second-generation 64-bit mobile processor is fabricated on a smaller 20-nanomenter process technology making it more power-friendly and thirteen percent smaller than the A7. Read More
By Jake Smith on Aug 25, 2014
An eagle-eyed member of the MacRumors forum says the “Phosporus”component destined for the iPhone 6, leaked on Monday, isn’t a next-generation version of Apple’s M7 co-processor, but instead a barometric pressure sensor. It makes sense given the several rumors that have cropped up in recent months with word Apple plans a barometer used to measure atmospheric pressure in the iPhone 6. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 25, 2014
An Apple chip internally code-named ‘Phosphorous’ has been identified on leaked schematics and thought to replace the M7, a motion coprocessor which debuted inside the iPhone 5s last Fall. (Update: It’s looking like a barometer pressure sensor instead.)
It’s said to include the M7’s motion tracking functions and thought to be able to collect a number of health and fitness data from various health and fitness accessories and specialized medical devices.
This apparently includes heart rates, calories burned, cholesterol levels, blood sugar and more. It’s believed the chip works in tandem with iOS 8 and the new Health app, which allows users to enter a number of health and fitness-related data manually, or automatically collect these from various HealthKit-friendly accessories and wearables. Read More
By Christian Zibreg on Aug 14, 2014
In late-July, a claimed iPhone 6 circuit board leaked on the web. As it lacked the actual chips (it only showed the pin layout), it left watchers guessing as to whether the handset might include much-rumored NFC capability for a rumored Apple-branded mobile payment service.
Today, a photo purportedly showing a fully assembled logic board of the iPhone 6 has surfaced. Published by a Taiwanese blog, it reveals several semiconductor components such as a Toshiba flash chip and a Wi-Fi module… 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 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