SAN JOSE, Calif. -- NXP Semiconductors makes the M7 sensor controller used in the new Apple iPhone 5S and Samsung makes the phone's A7 processor, according to a teardown by Chipworks (Ottawa). The iPhone 5S hit the market on September 20. Chipworks was among many companies rushing to post teardowns and analyses of its internal workings.
"The M7 has been a difficult chip to locate on the board and rumors have been going around about the lack of a discrete M7 chip inside the iPhone 5S," Chipworks analysts said in their online report.
"Luckily, we’ve been able to locate the M7 in the form [of] the NXP LPC18A1, [part of] the LPC1800 series [of NXP's ARM] Cortex-M3 based microcontrollers," they said (see above). "This represents a big win for NXP," they added, given the volume and visibility of iPhone sales.
The M7 controls functions from a variety of discrete sensors including a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a compass. Chipworks noted that traditionally, Apple used STMicroelectronics's accelerometer and gyroscope, and an electro-magnetic compass from Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM). "We have since confirmed the compass to be AKM’s AK8963," they said.
If Chipworks analysts are correct, speculation to date that the M7 is a custom Apple design has been wrong, and the part is perhaps a custom derivative of an NXP design. An M7 die shot is below. See more on the A7 on the following page.