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App Proc. & DRAM packaging in iPhones & IPads
chipmonk0   11/1/2013 12:51:21 PM
In all the iPhones through the 5s, the Processor & DRAM memory are stacked on top of one another in whats called a Package on Package or PoP. This saves real estate, but limits the amount of heat that can be pulled out of the SoC. The same was true for the original iPad. But since iPad 2 the packaging has changed, the SoC is on one side of the Motherboard with a large Heat Sink attached to its top. The DRAM are located on the obverse side of the MB, under the shadow of the SoC and connected to it through the PCB.

Would be interesting to find out how it is for the iPhone Air.

Incidentally the second largest mfr.s of Tablets ( they still make the SoCs for Apple ) continues to package their own SoC and DRAM in Tablets just like in iPhones.

Wonder if it says anything about power consumption, temperature inside or sensitivity to temperature for the two groups of Designers.

rick merritt
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Re: App Proc. & DRAM packaging in iPhones & IPads
rick merritt   11/1/2013 1:27:01 PM
Good observsations, Chipmonk. I hope the teardown experts are listening because I'd like to see this explored, too.

Dick James
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Re: App Proc. & DRAM packaging in iPhones & IPads
Dick James   11/1/2013 1:40:30 PM
The A7 and Elpida DRAM are in discrete packages next to each other, since the iPad has the luxury of more available real estate.  This version of the A7 has a hefty heat sink cap on it, possibly a sign that it's running hotter than the iPhone version, and another argument for not using PoP.

rick merritt
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Re: App Proc. & DRAM packaging in iPhones & IPads
rick merritt   11/1/2013 5:00:01 PM
@Dick: Thx for chiming in.

Tom at Chipworks speculated the heat sink was because Apple was cranking up the frequency on the A7 to 1.4 GHz so it is running warmer in the bigger tablet.

FYI, I think the POP that Chipmonk mentioned was a memory stack, separate from the A7. It would be interesting to get a teardown of any POP mempory stack in the iPad Air and comparisons of prior memory stacks Apple used.

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Re: App Proc. & DRAM packaging in iPhones & IPads
chipmonk0   11/1/2013 2:12:34 PM
Addendum : in theory the larger screens in Tablets compared to SmartPhones would require the GPUs to work harder, making the SoC run hotter. But would still like to understand the difference in Packaging used by Tablet mfr.s no. 1 and 2. Perhaps have to wait till the next Tablet by no. 2. They keep using ARM Mali GPUs. Or does Android in some way have less power hungry graphics ?

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Power and thermal management
_hm   11/2/2013 3:13:42 PM
Apple has wonderful designers and design tools. The way they convert power with ultra high efficiency and manage very low thermal, is wonderful achievement. This is true for iphone, ipad and mac books. It will be good to know what kind of design tools and design process they employ. Can any Apple veteran highlight these tools and processes?

Daniel Payne
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Re: Power and thermal management
Daniel Payne   11/4/2013 1:27:56 AM
Apple, like many large companies has a "no talk" policy about which EDA tools they use, and their general methodology, because they consider this a competitive advantage. Why let your competitor's know how to catch up to you?

rick merritt
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Re: Power and thermal management
rick merritt   11/4/2013 11:58:11 AM
HM: I agree: Someone out there must know a thing or two about the IC EDA tool chain at Apple. Please, give us a little insight.

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Thinner Tablet
Charles.Desassure   11/4/2013 10:21:29 AM
I agree, the only major change that I notice is that the Apple tablet is thinner.  I expected more.

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Re: Thinner Tablet
chanj0   11/4/2013 11:49:44 AM
It is quite an accomplishment to achieve a thinner iPad. Even performance stayed the same with just reduce the size of battery, the task wouldn't be easy. Now, the processor runs faster. Application performance will be improved. The rest of the features will likely be apps driven. Bluetooth 4.0 will be the focus of a lot of developers and company building ioT. iBeacon will no doubt open up a lot of opportunities. The near future will tell. :)

To me, 1lb full size tablet is a killer. :D


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And even less battery life
Denis.Giri   11/5/2013 7:28:11 AM

OK, up to 10 hours of battery life... for :

- surfing the web (=mostly idle CPU, no GPU + active display),

- watching video (hard IP for video decoding => CPU & GPU idle),

- listening to music (CPU & GPU idle, no screen... ONLY 10 HOURS????)


So, how much battery life while using the additional CPU & GPU power of the A7?

Tablets and smartphones are becoming a gaming plateform. It's high time the tablets & smartphone vendors start publishing battery life figures on gaming workloads. (or simply displaying the power consumption of their systems during each CPU and GPU benchmark these guys use to sell the processing power of their devices)


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Re: And even less battery life
Sheetal.Pandey   11/5/2013 12:18:52 PM
Watching you tube videos nd browsing also takes away lot of battery life. How is Apple ipad experience?

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More interesting, the display?
hazydave   11/8/2013 9:49:21 AM
It's been typical all along that Apple was downclocking the SOC for the iPhone, to extend life a little with a smaller battery.  That's not really news.  And you can well expect that for some things, like video decoding, pretty much the same AVC decoders are keeping the CPU out of the equation. Apple previously also doubled-down on GPUs for the tablet over the phone, this is the first time they haven't.

But of course, iPhones and iPads are designed for the same battery life target every time, and the battery scaled accordingly. If you look at the history of iPad batteries, it was the addition of the high density display ("Retina" in Applespeak) that caused a big bump in battery power, from 25Whr in the iPad 2 to up to 43Whr in the iPad 3. That was needed, as display, not the SOC, had already been the main source of power drain, and that new display at the time took about twice the LED power to deliver the same brightness.

So now they're down to a smaller 33Whr cell, claiming all the same expected runtimes as usual, and Apple's generally been on target with their claims. I'd say that pretty much confirms they're using an IZGO LCD, rather than the classic IPS. These claim to transmit far more light even at the higher pixel densities. And Amazon is already shipping with technology.. it also leads to thinner displays.

As data rates begin to move beyond 25 Gbps channels, new problems arise. Getting to 50 Gbps channels might not be possible with the traditional NRZ (2-level) signaling. PAM4 lets data rates double with only a small increase in channel bandwidth by sending two bits per symbol. But, it brings new measurement and analysis problems. Signal integrity sage Ransom Stephens will explain how PAM4 differs from NRZ and what to expect in design, measurement, and signal analysis.

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