IPhone 8 Chips Come into View

Article By : Rick Merritt, EE Times

Apple's iPhone 8 Plus sports an A11 processor 30% smaller than in the A10 in the iPhone 7, according to a TechInsights teardown of it and other chips.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Apple shrunk the applications processor in its iPhone 8 Plus by 30 percent while adding two CPU cores and a machine-learning block, according to the first public teardown of the chip. TechInsights reported details of the SoC as well as camera and modem chips in the handset as part of a chip teardown still in progress.

The A11 Bionic AP sports a die size of 89.23 mm2, a 30 percent shrink compared to the A10 chip. While the CPU1 block hewed to the average overall shrink, the GPU and SDRAM blocks shrunk by 40 percent each, a TechInsights representative told EE Times.

The CPU2 block on the A11 is larger than the same block on the A10, mainly because Apple doubled its core count to four. The GPU is still a six-core block. The blocks take up similar locations and space on both chips with the CPUs at about 15 percent of total area, GPUs at 20 percent and the SDRAM interfaces at 8 percent.

TechInsights has not investigated the so-called neural engine on the chip. In addition, it has yet to confirm reports it uses the same 10nm TSMC process as the A10X in the iPad Pro 10.5.

The A11 is a package-on-package device believed to use the same TSMC InFo-PoP process as the A10. In one iPhone 8 Plus TechInsights tore down, the SoC was packaged with the Micron MT53D384M64D4NY 3GByte mobile LPDDR4 SDRAM. In a second handset teardown, the memory chip appeared to come from Samsung.


Apple shrunk GPU and SDRAM interface blocks by 40% in the A11. Click to enlarge. (Source: TechInsights)

The handset included a 32.8 mm2 Sony image sensor, slightly larger than the 32.3 mm2 chip in the iPhone 7. It delivers a 1.22 µm pixel pitch.

“The big news is the absence of surface artifacts corresponding to the through silicon via arrays we’ve seen for a few years. A superficial review of the die photo would suggest it’s a regular back-illuminated chip. However, we’ve confirmed it’s a stacked (Exmor RS) chip, which means hybrid bonding is in use for the first time in an Apple camera,” TechInsights said.

Apple used Intel’s XMM7480 LTE baseband processor in the handsets. It bore a X2748 B11 die marking.

— Rick Merritt, Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, EE Times Circle me on Google+

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