Chipworks


'Chipworks' Articles

First iPhone SE Teardown Reveals Mix of iPhone 5s, 6, and 6s Components

With the iPhone SE now available in several countries, the first teardown of the device has been conducted by Chipworks. As expected, the device uses a hodgepodge of components sourced from several past iPhones, including the iPhone 5, 6, and 6s, leading Chipworks to say "this is not your typical Apple release."There are very few new parts, but that hardly means there is no innovation. As is the genius of Apple and its fearless leader, Mr. Cook, it is the combination of all the right parts that make a successful product. Finding that just-right balance of old and new, and at such a low cost, is no easy feat.The processor inside the iPhone SE is indeed the same A9 processor found in the iPhone 6s, and the part in the iPhone SE Chipworks took apart was labeled with an APL1022 part number from a TSMC facility. It includes SK Hynix memory, which Chipworks says is likely the same 2GB LPDDR4 DRAM module found in the iPhone 6s. The date codes might actually tell a story: the decapped application processor chip is dated 1535, Aug/Sep last year, so it was sitting in inventory for a while; the memory is 1549, last December; and presumably the whole package-on-package was assembled this year at the end of January.The NFC chip is the NXP 66V10, the same used in the iPhone 6s, and the 6-axis sensor is from InvenSense and was also used in the iPhone 6s. The Qualcom MDM9625M modem and the accompanying transceiver were originally found in the iPhone 6, and the Audio ICs, which Chipworks thinks were designed by Cirrus Logic, came from the iPhone 6s. While many parts were

A9X Die Photo From iPad Pro Reveals 12-Cluster Graphics, No L3 Cache

Financial news website The Motley Fool has shared details of the A9X die featured in the new Apple iPad Pro, thanks to analysis from electronics teardown firm Chipworks. The photo reveals the A9X's dual-core CPU and a 12-cluster GPU to drive the device's massive display. While the CPU core count observed in the A9X matches that of the A9 from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, the 12-cluster GPU is twice as powerful as the six-cluster GPU found in the A9 design. Otherwise, the core and cluster designs appear to be identical to those found in the A9 die shots. Dual-core CPU boxed in green, six dual-cluster GPU regions boxed in blue Chipworks confirms that the die shown in the photo is fabricated by TSMC, and it does indeed show similarities with the existing A9 TSMC die already pictured by Chipworks. The Motley Fool also points out that the 8 MB third level cache featured on the A9 to help manage data flow to and from memory is not present on the A9X die, suggesting that the absence of this cache is due to the increased memory bandwidth that the A9X enjoys by having a memory interface twice the width of the A9 die. Indeed, in the included die shot, an expansive DRAM memory interface can be observed across three sides of the die. It is also worth mentioning that while the display resolution is much greater than on other iPads, the iPad Pro does not feature the 12-megapixel camera of the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus that would place additional demands on the memory hierarchy for real-time image processing. The presence of only two CPU cores is also interesting, given that

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

iPad Air 2's A8X Chip Includes Semi-Custom Series6XT Graphics With Eight Cores

New details have come to light regarding the iPad Air 2's graphics processing power since its launch last month, with a new report from AnandTech revealing the new tablet's graphics are even more powerful than previously thought. Benchmarks and teardowns on the tablet revealed details on the inner workings of the iPad Air 2 in the days following its launch, but a new image of the A8X die provided to AnandTech reveals the layout of the Apple-designed chip. The die photo shows the A8X includes eight-core graphics, even larger than the 6-core GX6650 graphics from Imagination Technologies previously assumed to be in the chip.To get right down to business then, the die shot confirms what we had begun suspecting: that A8X has an 8 cluster Series6XT configuration. All 8 GPU clusters are clearly visible, and perhaps unsurprisingly it looks a lot like the GPU layout of the GX6450. To put it in words, imagine A8’s GX6450 with another GX6450 placed right above it, and that would be the A8X’s 8 cluster GPU.AnandTech was unable to share the source's actual image of the die, but Chipworks has just provided MacRumors with a similar image showing the eight graphics cores taking up a substantial portion of the A8X's die. The photo also shows the new triple-core CPU and a number of other features included on the chip. A8X die photo from Chipworks Uncertainty over the A8X graphics stems from Imagination's public list of Series6XT graphics offerings, which tops out with the 6-core GX6650, but the new die photo reveals that Apple has employed a semi-custom design essentially pairing two