iPhone 7 teardown reveals the secrets behind the A10 chip


The new Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are here, and they bring double the storage, some significant improvements to the camera, water-proofing, and a brand new home button, but the big highlight of the pair is without a doubt the brain that powers the phone: the Apple A10 system chip.

While Android phones have been using big.LITTLE designs with larger, performance driven CPU cores for intense tasks and smaller, battery-savvy cores for less demanding tasks, the iPhone 7 series is the first time that Apple implements this in a mobile phone. Naturally, a ton of question emerges about this new chip. Chipworks' teardown, complete with the addition of X-rays of the innards of the phone, reveal a lot of the secrets behind the Apple A10.

The most important take-away from Chipworks' highly technical teardown is the die photo of the new A10 chip itself. It reveals the die part number TMGK98, the next in the series after the A9's TMGK96. What's interesting is that the new A10 die size measures around 125 square mm packing a reported 3.3 billion transistors. This makes it nearly 20% larger than the A9 die. Chipworks also reveals that the new chip is build on the 16nm FinFet-based TSMC process. This is interesting since Apple has been using practically the same 20nm and 16nm manufacturing technology for the last 3 years, yet it still manages to improve and optimize on it to bring significant gains in performance. 

Another interesting detail is that the A10 seems packaged to TSMC's new Integrated Fan Out (InFO) tech that saves precious space by eliminating the organic substrate that dies are traditionally mounted on. Everything is also very tightly, densely packed, and that allows Apple to keep a reasonable size for this chip.

Secondly, there is a new Intel modem in the iPhone, and that's interesting because most phones and earlier iPhones have long relied on Qualcomm models. Not the iPhone 7 family, though, as it has the Intel XMM7360 modem. The modem die size measures 66.4 square mm.

You can take a look at the full X-ray of the A10 chip right below, or skip over to the source link for the full teardown.


source: Chipworks

Related phones

iPhone 7
  • Display 4.7" 750 x 1334 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10 Fusion, Quad-core, 2340 MHz
  • Storage 256 GB
  • Battery 1960 mAh(14h 3G talk time)

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47 Comments

1. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

That's all quite good in the A10 chip.

2. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

beautiful inside and out. the fastest and most sought out phone on the planet!

18. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

Function phones are faster bro

25. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Stupid they are not smartphones, plus not being in the same category as these due to several major reasons. Have you ever thought about that?

45. submar

Posts: 713; Member since: Sep 19, 2014

But he said PHONE on the planet.

46. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Okay it's his fault but do you really think he would be comparing it to all phones, including faeture ones?

3. w1000i

Posts: 242; Member since: Jul 22, 2015

" the same 20nm and 16nm manufacturing technology for the last 3 years " That is not right, And this article just cocking word together.

4. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Meanwhile we android fans are waiting for a chip that can match the A9 in performance.

5. bucky

Posts: 3776; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

If your phone is running smooth and runs all the apps/games you want, then there's nothing else you could ask for

17. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

I'm not arguing nor disagreeing with you.. In fact I agree with you up to certain extend. Well my point is that even though we get smooth and capable device that's just not enough for some people (yeah lol, like me). There are plenty medium range processors that can get the job done with smooth functioning (with proper optimization) and capable of handling almost all apps very well. But when we buy high end phone with premium price tag such as iPhone and galaxy phones our requirement changes from smooth to instant (or as fast as possible). So it's obvious we would ask for the best there is. Ohh.... BTW A10 is really beasty... Apple did it (again)

6. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

The SD820 and E8890 both beat the A9 in performance. This is coming from someone who owns a 6s plus btw. The A9 powered phones are still faster but that is largely due to the iPhone using 1080p and even lower display resolutions, and iOS itself of course. So what you are really looking for isn't a chip that can match the A9 but an android phone built to match the speed of an iPhone. The new pixel phones are right around the corner so maybe the one with an FHD display will be said phone.

7. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

820 is garbage. The only thing which makes it sell good is because android manufacturers don't have options and it doesn't get lit up on fire like its predecessor, the 810. I have a oneplus 3 and the battery drains extremely fast when it's in a CPU heavy scenario. Also it did half the time In geekbench battery test compared to other chips, which goes on to show how badly efficient it is. Not to mention that the A9 beat it in multi -core which should be almost shameful. The only good things about the 820 are the modem and the GPU. About the 8890, the CPU is decent. However, the single core performance is bad and that is with the boost clock. At base clock, the performance would drop even below the 820. And the GPU throttles to 50% the performance long sessions. CPU speed has nothing to do with resolution. So keep that stupid excuse to yourselves. And the iPhones beat the android phones in offscreen tests too. FHD pixel won't do anything. It can't be as fast as the oneplus 3, which already has FHD screen and the best implementation of 820 with the highest benchmark scores and zero throttling. Also the oneplus 3 runs marshmallow instead of nougat which gives it an edge in performance since nougat performs terribly.

9. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Also A10 GPU isnt that impressive at all. Check GFXBench. Btw you already know that Exynos CPU is focused on multi-core more.

13. ebilcake

Posts: 1227; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

True, A10 GPU not much faster then SN820.

16. Ordinary

Posts: 2454; Member since: Apr 23, 2015

Yep. 820 is actually the same or little bit faster on harder benchmarks.

42. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Compared to the A9 the A10 is pretty impressive, it beats the SD820 and E8890 but you're right it's not an impressive score compared to them but then again their scores aren't impressive compared to the A9 even though they beat it. It's the same old story man, the chips only have to be impressive compared to their predecessor and just outperform whatever else is currently available and per usual it isn't by a substantial amount. What you said in post #16 isn't true though just saying, I checked GFX and compared them using only the best score from 1080p variants and the A10 beats the SD820's GPU.

19. Khyron

Posts: 397; Member since: Sep 28, 2015

What about the bottle neck of storage even ufs its seems to be a bottleneck including all the bottleneck of Android Android tons of useless features that slows raw performance of every new socs company made every new android flagships become slow with the time Google should improve their apps ecosystem for optimization or make a new system to get better app optimization the best specs never have been enough in every new android version always the same problems OVERHEATING BAD MEMORY MANAGEMENTS EVEN ON DEVICES WITH 4-6 GB BATTERY DRAIN STORAGE BOTTLENECKS

34. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Funny i did not experience any overheating on any of my android device i ever owned even the suposed oven htc M8 / M9 Bad memory managements? my old htc M7 can handle 10 apps open at same time whitout reload stop taking crack not everyone are crappy like Samsung. Battery drain? Really? my only phone thats had thats issue was HTC Desire HD with a very small 1400 mah battery. Storage bottleneck? Well cant test on my G5 as its wont allow for adopting a sd card but my old moto x play had no slowdown with ALL app running from SD. But its okay if you dont like android dont use it :) I dont like IPhone and i dont use them so its fair!

23. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

The SD820 isn't garbage but its a bit of a compromise, the 821 clearly shows it can do more while it's essentially the same SoC. I think Qualcomm just opted to play it safe with the SD810 fresh in their memories. A rumored octa-core version of the SD820 was said to be in the making, because manufacturers wanted one, but I can imagine Qualcomm saving it for the SD830. Meanwhile Exynos 8890 does quite well. Sure single core its nothing special, but multicore its great. GPU wise the Exynos is lacking a bit, but Samsung is looking to gain support from either Nvidia or AMD to make their own custom GPU. Its something to look forward too. Apple nowadays just goes for overkill in the single core department. Go for an A10 which scores great single core, but then only keep it at two performance cores when app demands are getting greater each day, dragging it down to a point where it becomes a barely noticable upgrade. That's the problem with benchmarks, they make the latest seem the greatest, yet in reality overall performance is barely any better than it was last year. Antutu is overrated, Geekbench is just a fraud. Both tell you absolutely nothing about how good a phone actually performs. Good example being a Xperia Z1 vs. Moto G 3rd gen. I own both and Geekbench says the Xperia Z1 is twice as capable, yet the Moto G 3rd gen is faster at everything. A phone thats supposedly slower turns out to be faster, when a benchmark clearly states the opposite. It just makes you realize that benchmark tests are complete bulls**t. I'd take the A10 performance with a grain of salt.

26. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

The 820 drains the battery too fast. I would call that a failed chip. End of story. About the 8890, yes the GPU is lacking and I would love to see it fixed with the S8. Let's see what happens. Apple is going for overkill. But isn't that what flagships are all about? I want android manufacturers to go overkill in something other than just stupid amounts of RAM that just sits there. Every year till now I go for flagship phones because they have what the midrangers don't. But you know what, this year I went with the oneplus 3 because I think android manufacturers didn't do absolutely anything to demand the extra money except stupid things like iris scanner and s**t modularity. I want phones with ridiculous stuff that makes me want to pay 800$ for it. Not some stupid gimmick. About geekbench, yes I know it's not a valid benchmark and Apple cheats on it. But even if you take javascript benchmarks, Apple's lead in CPUs is quite solid. About Z1 vs G 3rd gen. The Moto G 3rd gen starts crapping out after 3 months of solid use. I have had friends own a moto G 2nd and 4th gen and they both started crapping out. The moto is slower for sure. It can't even record 4k video. The only reason your Z1 is slower is because of the old NAND and s**tty Sony software. A10 is a better chip. As much as I hate to admit it being a long android user. And the presence of NVMe storage makes it even worse for android phones.

36. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

What a load of bulls**t. I have client upgrading moto G to new moto G every 2 year and never had a single issue. Its probably the best low end phone ever made and the most durable.

44. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

I wonder which Android will be the first to debut NVMe...my money is Google

35. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

agreed Back_from_beyond. Still thats moto G third gen will lag like hell in very demanding 3d game where the Z1 will be fine. but overall yeah i agree.

28. talha_16

Posts: 62; Member since: Oct 12, 2015

HTC 10, s7(snapdragon), lg g5, Axon 7, Asus zenfone 3, moto z all have 1440p screens but still give better battery performance than OP3 and all of them are using snapdragon 820. So its really a problem of your phone not the processor. It is by far the best cpu ever.

29. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

My phone has amazing battery life. It just drains fast when doing CPU intensive tasks. Regarding those phones(except moto Z), they use aggressive throttling and score way lower than the OP3 when it comes to benchmarks despite using the same CPU to save some battery, and moto Z has crap battery life compared to OP3. Also the G5 battery is garbage. Regarding HTC 10, it uses a smaller display with same battery capacity and the Axon uses a bigger battery. And the exynos S7 beats them all by a mile. What would you say to that. The reason is that SD 820 has crap in efficiency. This is from the anandtech review of HTC 10 that went live today: "When compared against something like the Galaxy S7 Exynos 8890 variants the HTC 10 is going to trail in anything CPU-bound as Kryo is just not as efficient as Exynos M1 for whatever reason."

37. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

your one plus only scale up cpu in benchmark btw its called cheating. Otherwise i still waiting a single app or game lag on my G5. Even after hours of playing 3d games its has no lag. S7 exynos is crap throttling phone my friend have the edge one and when playing world of tank blitz after 30 min its lag so much its unplayable. As i said before Exynos good in cpu departement and thats its.

33. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

the one plus 3 with latest patch have a very lazy memory management so yeah its will eat your battery up for sure thats where optimization come in. A9 dont beat it in multicore on all device i have to agree Samsung fail miserably at optimizing thats SD820. also SD820 has a better GPU than A9 wich is more important than anything for me as i play load of high end games. agreed about the exynos its super efficient for battery and good multicore cpu but GPU is crap and throttle like a bitch. higher resolution end with more heavy memory usage and UI will suffer its do in part work on the cpu as well but yes 2/3 of thats equation is GPU ( when i force gpu rendering on my LG G5 its get a LOTS faster ) A9 in offscreen get destroyed by SD820. sorry but oneplus is far from been the best implementation. The memory management is a joke. The UI is very heavy. Sorry but no only Samsung is worst.

41. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Lol bruh I never said the SD820 was a good chip, tbh I think it is bad. I also never said the CPU was affected by the screen resolution because I know it's not. Your OP called the performance and nothing else into question I simply told the truth that the SD820 and E8890 match the A9 in performance because they do, the differences shown in benchmarks aren't enough to make a difference when it comes to real world performance, also the screen res does affect the overall performance and to say it again that is what your OP was about. To address what you said in your last paragraph. the FHD OP3 isn't ever going to outperform an FHD phone designed by google running stock android, google is sure to fix any problems that android N has before the pixel phones release. My mom has the 5x and I have noticed it is slow as hell so they better fix it lol.

47. talha_16

Posts: 62; Member since: Oct 12, 2015

No one visits anadtech because it is one of the most biased site you will ever find. And no there is no situation of throttling in any of the smartphones i mentioned. And of course moto z will have crap battery life it has only 2600mah battery but it stomps the floor with the force. And yeah everyone knows that OP3 has a battery issue. Even though it has a 1080p display. And htc 10 uses a 2k screen and still performs better.

8. MrPhilo

Posts: 63; Member since: Feb 25, 2013

Nope. A9 is faster than S820 and E8890, Geekbench 4 has already confirmed this. Plus android phone will never be faster until we start using NVME like the iPhones.

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