Apple A6 processor tear down

Since the iPhone body has already been torn down, what's left to do but tear down it's brain -- the all new, all custom Apple A6 system-on-a-chip (SoC). And that's just exactly what iFixt and Chipworks have just done.

  • During the iPhone 5 teardown, we referenced the B8164B3PM label we found on the A6 processor, which denoted 1GB of Elpida LP DDR2 SDRAM. The die mark and photo (shown in the A6 teardown) confirmed the strong hunch that the A6's 1GB LP DDR2 SDRAM is provided by Elpida.

  • Generally speaking, logic blocks—such as those found in the A6—are automagically laid out with the use of advanced computer software. However, it looks like the ARM core blocks were laid out manually—as in, by hand. A manual layout will usually result in faster processing speeds, but it is much more expensive and time consuming.

  • The manual layout of the ARM processors lends much credence to the rumor that Apple designed a custom processor of the same caliber as the all-new Cortex-A15. It just might be the only manual layout in a chip to hit the market in several years.

  • Chipworks cracked open the Apple 338S1077 to confirm that it is, in fact, a Cirrus CS35L19 class-D audio amplifier—and not an audio codec as initially thought.

  • The Murata Wi-Fi SoC module is actually comprised of a Broadcom BCM4334 package in addition to an oscillator, capacitors, resistors, etc. You can see all the components in the X-ray: http://bit.ly/UNQv4v

  • The Broadcom BCM4334, fabricated in Taiwan at TSMC on a 40 nm CMOS process, features:

    • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
    • Bluetooth 4.0 + HS

Manually laying out the chip is insane, but shows just how seriously Apple takes every bit and atom in the iPhone. To watch all the hot, ion-blasted, processor action, head on over to iFixit now.

Source: iFixt and Chipworks

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter, App.net, Google+.

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There are 10 comments. Add yours.

sudbury78 says:

Rene, I dont know how else to get help... I need my password changed but when I send the request the link in my email opens up to imore to ask me what my current password is to change it. I dont know!! I need it reset please. Help!!! Thanks

Rene Ritchie says:

email support @imore .com. Sorry about that!

Moose1331 says:

Is hand laying out a chip really that "insane"?

JGltno says:

I don't understand what hand laying means? So they literally lay out and place each cheap component by hand instead of machine? Meaning all millions of chips were hand made?

Timberwolf says:

No, it means that they manually went through and designed the chip, instead of having a computer lay out all of the logic gates in the chip. It is very tedious, but as the article said it can produce better results. So after designing the chip by hand, the chip is then manufactured like normal.

czhDavid says:

This is the right way to do things!
On the other hand the iOS 6 maps are so terible and they didn´t warn us that it is beta.
To much beta test on users lately