Semiconductor analysis confirms iPhone 6s ‘A9’ chip manufactured by Samsung and TSMC

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


Apple reportedly commissions TSMC to exclusively build in-house designed ‘A10’ chips for ‘iPhone 7’

By Christian Zibreg on Sep 14, 2015

The iPhone 6s featuring Apple’s in-house designed ‘A9’ microchip is yet to start shipping but the firm’s already commissioned Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to build a next-generation ‘A10’ package expected to power 2016 iOS devices like an ‘iPhone 7,’ third-generation iPad Air and second-generation iPad Pro, according to supply chain chatter Monday. Read More


Official: Samsung stole trade secrets from TSMC

By Christian Zibreg on Aug 26, 2015

Samsung lifted trade secrets from rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s #1 independent semiconductor foundry, Taiwan’s top court has ruled.

According to a report published Wednesday by Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes, the court has determined that Liang Mong-song, a former senior director of research and development at TSMC, revealed TSMC’s trade secrets and patents related to its advanced FinFET process technology to Samsung Electronics.

The report makes no mention of Apple, but the connection couldn’t be clearer: Samsung might have been able to leverage the stolen secrets to win orders for Apple’s next-generation ‘A9’ processor. Prior reports have posited that both Samsung and TSMC got to build Apple’s A9 chips on the advanced 14-nanometer FinFET process technology which uses entirely new three-dimensional transistors. Read More


Breakthrough could bring 1,000 times faster flash storage with much longer lifespan to iPhone

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 29, 2015

Chip makers Intel and Micron today announced a major breakthrough in memory process technology which promises to increase the performance of NAND flash chips by a factor of 1,000.

The name of this game-changing technology is 3D Xpoint, pronounced as “crosspoint”. Not only does it enable 1,000 times faster performance, but has up to 1,000X greater endurance than NAND flash and is 10X denser than conventional memory.

By comparison, today’s solid state drives typically offer between a hundred to up to a thousand times faster seek times versus traditional hard drive technology. Just don’t count on Intel’s new ultra-fast flash storage appearing in the next iPhone because a claimed logic board for an ‘iPhone 6s’ shows 19-nanometer flash memory chips by Toshiba. Read More


Volume production of Apple’s next-generation ‘A9’ processor for new iPhones has kicked off

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 16, 2015

Volume production of an Apple-designed next-generation “A9” chip, the engine that will power the next iPhone and iPad, has begun at facilities operated by Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry.

According to a report published Friday by DigiTimes, a semi-accurate Taiwanese trade publication, the two rivals get to share orders and both have now started volume production of the chips.

Supply chain sources interviewed by The Wall Street Journal estimate Apple’s ordered a record 80 million units of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus units by the end of 2015. Read More


Analysis of ‘iPhone 6s’ logic board suggests improved NFC, 16GB base model and more

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 3, 2015

A leaked logic board has already offered a valuable insight into some of the many hardware enhancements in Apple’s upcoming ‘iPhone 6s’ and ‘iPhone 6s Plus’ refreshes. Thus far, we have learned about Qualcomm’s new baseband modem which doubles LTE download speeds, a slightly thicker enclosure to accommodate Force Touch sensors and possibly a higher-resolution Retina screen.

9to5Mac has teamed up with semiconductor experts at Chipworks in an effort to identify other chips and components based on images of an alleged iPhone 6s motherboard.

Here are their findings. Read More


Leaked iPhone 6s logic board shows Qualcomm MDM9635M chip for up to 300Mbps LTE speed

By Christian Zibreg on Jul 1, 2015

Apple’s next iPhone should double LTE download speeds from a theoretical maximum of 150Mbps on the present-generation iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus up to 300Mbps on the next-generation ‘iPhone 6s’ and ‘iPhone 6s Plus,’ according to a purported logic board leaked by 9to5Mac.

A photo of the alleged ‘iPhone 6s’ logic board shows a chip identified as the MDM9635M module from Qualcomm, part of its ‘Gobi’ modem platform. Read More


iPhone 6s rumors: supplier hints at 7000 Series aluminum body, TSMC building A9 chips

By Christian Zibreg on Jun 11, 2015

A new rumor from Asia suggests that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), one of the world’s largest semiconductor foundries, is ready to kick off mass production of Apple’s in-house designed ‘A9’ mobile processor for the new iPhones, tentatively called an ‘iPhone 6s’ and ‘iPhone 6s Plus’.

At the same time, another rumor from Apple’s supply chain has reaffirmed that 2015 iPhones will have a chassis made from 7000 Series aluminum, a custom alloy the Cupertino firm originally developed for the Apple Watch Sport. Read More


TSMC establishing 10nm pilot line to build A10 chips for iPhone 7

By Christian Zibreg on May 26, 2015

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, is apparently scheduled to finish its 10-nanometer pilot production line by the end of June, with Taiwanese media suggesting that the new facilities will churn out an Apple-designed ‘A10’ processor said to power an ‘iPhone 7’ and other iOS devices due in 2016. Read More


Apple Watch’s 28nm application processor is fabbed by Samsung, S1 chip is full of surprises

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


Here’s what Apple’s custom designed Apple Watch ‘S1’ chip packs in

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


Rumor: TSMC building iPhone 6s chips, $400-$500 iPhone 6c to become new entry-level model

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


Apple’s presence in Israel growing to expand in-house chip design capabilities

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


Samsung Galaxy S6 won’t be using Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chip due to overheating

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


Samsung to supply around 75 percent of A9 chips for the next iPhone?

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


Following record Q4, TSMC migrates to finer 10nm tech and allegedly picks up A9X orders in 2015

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


CES 2015: Intel unveils new Broadwell chips bound for MacBook Pros and that rumored Retina Air

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


First HomeKit certified chips now shipping to smart home device makers

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


TSMC reportedly lands contract to build A8X processor for iPad Pro

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


Samsung confirms building 14nm A9 processors for 2015 iPhones and iPads

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

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