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PryingEyes: A7, smaller combo radio debuted in iPhone 5s

25 Sep 2013

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TechInsights highlights notable changes to the NAND flash and combo radio connectivity solution in the iPhone 5s while a separate teardown by Chipworks delves into the A7 as well as the M7 sensor from NXP Semiconductor.

Beyond the new A7 processor and the transition from LPDDR2 to LPDDR3, several interesting changes to the NAND flash and the combo radio connectivity solution are discovered.

SK Hynix conforms to E2NAND3.0 standard

Figure 1: SK Hynix conforms to E2NAND3.0 standard.

NAND flash

The NAND flash memory on the iPhone 5s is manufactured by SK Hynix (package marking H2JTFG8YD2MBR), conforming to its E2NAND3.0 standard.

E2NAND3.0 uses advanced error correction code (ECC), buffering, and processing to improve performance and reliability. The flash controller is centred on the eight-die flash stack in order to maintain timing symmetry. Die centring requires mounting the controller under the flash stack in order to maintain workable wirebond lengths. The NAND flash is manufactured in Hynix's 21nm process, which it designates "2ynm class."

The die marks on the Broadcom chips

Figure 2: The die marks on the Broadcom chips.

Combo radio device

The combo radio device, used to provide the phone with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (no FM radio in the Apple specs), is a slight variant on the flagship Broadcom BCM4334 seen in the iPhone 5 and many other smartphones. This time, it's called the BCM43342. The layout of the device, packaged in a Murata MCM (marked 339S0205), is shrunk slightly over the original BCM4334.

The circuitry is essentially the same, with the critical radio layout still intact. Broadcom could have several motivations for the shrinking, such as reduced die cost, though tweaking RF designs isn't done without incurring significant cost. The circuitry may have been improved or optimised since the original 4334 release—something we'll be investigating further.

Broadcom BCM4334 is 4.49 mm x 4.44 mm = 19.9 mm2. BCM4334(2) is 4.45 mm x 4.06 mm = 18.1 mm2.

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