Chipworks tears down Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 and iSight camera secrets revealed

Chipworks tears down Apple iPhone 6: Apple A8 and iSight camera secrets revealed
The Apple iPhone 6 has arrived, but what does it feature on the inside? 

Apple has given us an official overview of the specs, but for those who want some extra details, die shots, and a really deep understanding of the chips that went in the iPhone 6, the answer arrives only now as Chipworks tears down the iPhone 6.

The teardown gives us pictures of the iPhone 6 mainboard (that most of you have already seen in leaks and in the earlier, iFixit teardown), but quickly jumps in to more detailed ‘x-ray’ images of the more notable single chips.

Apple A8 die pictures: 20nm, TSMC-made

The Apple A8 is, of course, the most interesting element in the new iPhone 6. All clues point to it being manufactured by TSMC on a 20nm node, and that makes it one of the first 20nm chips out there. The A8 is also some 13% smaller than last year’s A7, while packing nearly double the amount of transistors - up from around 1 billion to some 2 billion transistors in the Apple A8. And yes, RAM is still 1GB on the iPhone 6.

Some interesting details appear when you look at the packaging: the A8 switches to a different nomenclature, from the ‘98’ suffix for the APU (the Apple A5 was the APL0498, for instance) to an ‘11’ suffix here (the Apple A8 is marked as APL1011).

A cross section of the A8 shows that the chip is made of 10 metals in the stack. Interestingly, the die picture suggests that Apple has made some re-arrangements to the chip with what seems like the Cyclone dual-core processor now in the bottom right corner, while the GPU cluster seems to occupy the bottom left part (that’s just our guess, though).

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iSight camera: a larger module, 'Focus Pixels' galore

The next major area of interest is the camera. The iSight camera keeps the sane, 1.5-micron pixel size, but interestingly, the camera module is larger on the x and y axes, while its vertical height is the same as in the iPhone 5s. Die images also show a dense array of the new ‘Focus Pixels’ (more commonly known as phase detection pixels), and at first look, it seems that Apple has packed a lot more of these pixels in comparison to, say, the Samsung Galaxy S5.

The main iSight camera is again manufactured by Sony, and it’s a stacked, Exmor RS sensor with backside illumination. The exact size of the camera module is 10.6 mm x 9.3 mm x 5.6 mm thick (vs 8.6 mm x 7.8 mm x 5.6 mm thick on the iPhone 5s), and die size stands at 4.8 mm x 6.1 mm (29.3 mm2).

You can find images of many other iPhone 6 components in the slideshow below, all courtesy of Chipworks.

source: Chipworks

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