Inside an Apple iPhone!

Apple-iPhone-5S-board-640x262It is funny to me how Apple first relies on Samsung for fabrication of their self-designed patent proof processors and then sues Samsung for patent violations! The architecture of the System on Chip for Apple devices is a mystery or at best, a compilation of speculations, assumptions and hardware tear off activities.  I was pleasantly surprised to read some insightful teardown blogs on the latest Apple A7 processor and that motivated me to write a blog on how apple provides a brilliant ecosystem for some giant companies to come together in one chip set!

ARM: Starting from the A7 processor {apple processors have the nomenclature of A#}, which is based on 64 Bit ARMv8 Architecture, custom designed at Apple.  These processors are dual core and before you jump to a conclusion, high frequency dual core processors in Apple are way better than the low frequency quad core processors available out there in the market http://www.cnet.com/news/apples-64-bit-a7-chip-not-quad-core-says-chip-expert/

Samsung: The A7 processor is fabricated with Samsung 28nm process technology. This is 4nm improvement over A6 processors, used in iPhone 5. Apple also boasts of a transistor count of 1 billion. Strange relationship, Apple and Samsung. Read more , http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/09/20/samsung-confirmed-to-be-manufacturer-of-apples-new-a7-chip-in-iphone-5s

Broadcom: Apples uses the Broadcom WiFi SoC with an integrated support for 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth and FM receiver. It also relies on Broadcom for touchscreen controller. What is interesting is that Apple has hired former Broadcom principal engineer Paul Chang, who has three Broadcom patents covering integrated circuit manufacturing methods. These are clear indication of the fact that Apple is working on in house Wifi SoC development. http://www.idownloadblog.com/2014/04/09/apple-poaching-broadcom-rf-engineers/

Qualcomm: Apple relies on Qualcomm for Cellular connectivity including LTE/ HSPA+/CDMA2K/ TDSCDMA / EDGE/ GPS transceiver. This chip is the apple’s eye [Pun Inteded ;)] in the cellular world! Apple has been hiring a lot of professionals from Qualcomm over the past years. Here is an interesting post from a publication on LinkedIn

“All together, Apple has assembled at least 30 mid- and senior-level baseband software and hardware engineers from Broadcom and current iPhone baseband vendor Qualcomm over the past three years.”

Sony:  The iSight cameras in Iphone 5S has Sony CMOS image sensors, custom designed for smartphones and tablets. It is interesting to note that the same camera is used in the Samsung Galaxy S4. You might want to read more about these sensors here, http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/201208/12-107E/

There is more to it.. Texas Instruments, ST Microelectronics, NXP Semiconductors and so forth. The point to be noted is an excellent balance of relationship amongst these sharks. I have an observation to make here, Tim Cook, present CEO of Apple, in his last position was the Head of Supplier Relationships. This goes on to say how important it is for Apple, to maintain relations.

P.S. Follow me for similar posts in future. Read more on the article gallery and like and comment if you like!

Disclaimer: I might be wrong about some technical details, to be blamed is the conservative approach of Apple . Please do correct me if you have more authentic information.

Important References:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/7910/apples-cyclone-microarchitecture-detailed

http://www.chipworks.com/en/technical-competitive-analysis/resources/blog/inside-the-iphone-5s/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_A7

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