Benchmarks put iPad Pro’s A9X chip roughly on par with Intel’s 2013 Core i5

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


iPad Pro doesn’t support untethered ‘Hey Siri’

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


Decoding iPhone 7 chip architecture…

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


Intel has 1,000 engineers working on integrated LTE modem for iPhone 7

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


Analyst predicts 100% of Apple’s A10 chip orders will be handled by TSMC

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


iPhone chips infringe University of Wisconsin’s tech, Apple faces $862M in damages

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


How to check if you have TSMC or Samsung chip in your iPhone 6s

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


Samsung-built A9 chip in iPhone 6s found to drain battery faster than TSMC one, Apple doesn’t really agree

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


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

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