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Apple Watch Uses Chip Manufactured on Samsung's 28-Nanometer Process

Since the Apple Watch was released on April 24, several teardowns from iFixit, Chipworks, and ABI Research have divulged information on the inner workings of the device, detailing everything from battery capacity to the manufacturers who created the miniaturized parts for the device.

A report last week took a deep look at the S1 package that runs the Apple Watch, pointing towards 512MB of RAM, a Broadcom Wi-Fi chip, an accelerometer/gyrometer from STMicroelectronics, and today further investigation from Chipworks (via Ars Technica) has revealed 30 individual components inside the 26mm x 28mm S1 package, a feat Chipworks calls "quite an accomplishment."

Apple and/or their suppliers have designed and manufactured a 26 mm x 28 mm package that is very unique. Let's consider its construction for a moment. We have a common motherboard to which all of the components (wafer scale packages, PoPs, BGAs, etc.) have been attached. The entire motherboard, with all of its components, is then overmolded with a packaging compound containing silica or alumina spheres suspended in a resin. We see this same type of material in conventional IC packaging, but we have never observed this being used over a 26 mm x 28 mm motherboard.
Among the more interesting discoveries Chipworks has made is the manufacturing process for the APL0778 application processor (CPU/GPU) on the S1. It was made with Samsung's 28 nanometer LP process, which, as Ars Technica points out, is no longer cutting edge technology. A 28-nanometer processor was also used in the iPhone 5s, while the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus used 20-nanometer A8 processors.

A 28-nanometer chip in the current-generation Apple Watch suggests Apple could size down to a newer process in future devices, bringing a jump in performance alongside a reduction in space to make room for additional components. Samsung's chip technology has progressed to a 14-nanometer process, which we may see in the next-generation iPhone, among other products.

In short, the use of a 28-nanometer processor suggests there's a lot of room for improvement when it comes to processing power in future Apple Watch devices. Though the Apple Watch has only been available for two weeks, we've already heard some rumors about the next version. According to reports, health sensors that did not make it into the first-generation device may be added to the second-generation version, perhaps allowing it to track health-related metrics like stress levels, blood pressure, and oxygen levels.

We've also seen rumors suggesting the first update to the Apple Watch will come in the form of additional casing options, perhaps later this year. A second-generation device with upgraded internals is not expected until 2016.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

Top Rated Comments

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50 months ago
I am definitely upgrading to the iPhone 6S if it also comes with 512GB of ram... ;)
Rating: 18 Votes
50 months ago

I hope mine has the LG one!

Why? Whats wrong with Samsung chips? They are pretty good as far as I know.

Is it because you don't like their mobile division? Yeah, I also don't like what their mobile division is doing, but that does not mean that all the other divisions are bad - you should see the divisions as separate companies and learn to admire quality where it is deserved (and dislike where they show bad attitude/behavior).

Just blind hate is not good.
Rating: 14 Votes
50 months ago
A 28-nm chip possibly has lower leakage than the newer, smaller geometry processes, and thus might provide better battery life.
Rating: 13 Votes
50 months ago
Every Apple Watch has a little bit of Samsung in it. Lovely! :)
Rating: 10 Votes
50 months ago
Apple Watch CPU has an Apple designed Cpu.
So it's an APPLE CPU non a Samsung CPU.
The title is wrong.

Samsung is only the manufacturer.
Rating: 9 Votes
50 months ago
512GB of ram?
Rating: 8 Votes
50 months ago

"... package that is very unique "

It's either unique. As in - there is one and one only. Or it's not.

There is no "very". There is no "try".


If they'd made it using 14 nm technology is would be half the thickness, and that would be good.

Really, Good? Considering the current thickness is the thickness all watches have right now? You really think They'd make it 5mm thick (considering the sensors and connectors are 2mm, that leaves 3mm for the watch and the face... Doubtful).

The reason they used 28mm is this thing has been in development and testing a long time and they've integrated everything in the package. Considering the long lead time for this thing, I wouldn't be surprised if the next iteration would get 20mm and not 14mm, there's more than the CPU/GPU to think about in this thing.


28 nm chip??? Pffff... That explains everything!

I'm not going to throw my money at obsolete tech. :mad:

Perhaps in a few years, if the casing got thinner and prettier, and Apple finely decides to catch up with the latest CPU manufacturing node (14nm and below), I might try this wrist toy. But for now my money is better spent on other things than this dumb :apple:watch.

Funny, Apple claims to develop things ahead of their time, and yet they decided to put an obsolete chip in their latest product. Reminds me of their latest crippled Mac Mini. :confused:

Funny how you spend so much talking about something you care nothing about; time to reorient your priorities...

Right... Obsolete chip... Despite the fact that no one else has a better chip, in a smaller package. Everyone else is much bigger and are not using less battery, and are much less useful. What have those poor competitors done wrong if they're using more recent tech...

Maybe they should have spent a few minutes integrating the software with the chip instead of busting their budget on hardware... Oh, I forgot (sic), they're dependent on the crumbs Google deign give them

Apple took seemingly a lot of time developing the software for the watch and testing it to make sure it actually works well; unlike the 5 massive brick like, Crap, Gear iterations Samsung foisted on the world. Samsung doesn't seem to care if they screw their early adopters.

Freezing hardware early to make sure you can develop a stable software for it, is the right way to do things.
Rating: 7 Votes
50 months ago

512 GB of RAM?

512GB of ram?

512MB. Typo fixed.
Rating: 6 Votes
50 months ago

A 28-nm chip possibly has lower leakage than the newer, smaller geometry processes, and thus might provide better battery life.

This seems plausible. Also if you look at the motherboard in the picture which is 26mmx28mm, the CPU only takes up about 10x10. There looks to be room to grow. Apple could have decided to start with something proven and cheaper (as well as whay you stated) for first Gen. In future Gens, Apple could stick to slightly older, yet more stable, technology as the watch is likely not getting replaced every year, so they are going for durability.
Rating: 6 Votes
50 months ago
Can't wait for the "new" Samsung watch to be announced

The next small thing is here......
Rating: 6 Votes

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