chip Stories February 29, 2016

AAPL: 96.69

-0.22

If there’s indeed a poaching chess game going on between Tesla and Apple, it would appear the automaker is winning in acquiring quality pieces. Just a few week after we exclusively reported that Tesla hired legendary chip architect Jim Keller as new “Vice-President of Autopilot Hardware Engineering”, we now learn that Keller is joined by former DEC Alpha, PA Semi and until earlier this year Apple Director Peter Bannon.

Before Keller left Apple for AMD in 2012, he and Bannon were leading Apple’s processor development since the Cupertino-based company bought their chip making firm PA Semi in 2008. The duo lead the development of Apple’s A4 and A5 processors, which powered most of the company’s mobile devices from 2010 to 2012. Keller then left to develop the Zen architecture at AMD, but Bannon stuck around and developed several other chips for Apple until leaving for Tesla to join Keller last week. expand full story

chip Stories September 30, 2015

AAPL: 110.30

1.24

MediaTek outs two new SDKs for building HomeKit accessories with its chips

MediaTek is today launching support for Apple’s new HomeKit platform for iPhone-connected home automation accessories with new SDKs for two of the company’s systems-on-a-chip (SoC) products. That means that manufacturers using the MediaTek chips can now easily support HomeKit for controlling products from iOS apps and Siri.

MediaTek, a pioneering fabless semiconductor company and a market leader in cutting-edge systems-on-chip (SoC), today announced it has released two software development kits (SDKs) that support Apple HomeKit. Apple HomeKit is a framework built into iOS that enables secure home control from iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch and lets home accessories work together in smart ways.

The two new SDKs support MediaTek’s MT7688 product, a chip that manufacturers are using for high performance home accessories like webcams and wireless speakers, and the MT7687, a chip being used for lower power Wi-Fi devices like garage doors, power outlets, and thermostats.

Apple officially launched the HomeKit platform back in June with the first batch of products going up for preorder. Since then, other companies have announced incoming support for the platform including hardware bridges that will allow popular existing home automation platforms like Philips’ Hue lights connect to Apple’s framework. Yesterday, 9to5Mac exclusively reported Philips’ HomeKit bridge is planned for release early next month. 

To get a feel for HomeKit in the wild, check out our review of one of the first products to hit the market with HomeKit support, iHome’s $40 SmartPlug.

chip Stories September 28, 2015

AAPL: 112.44

-2.27
According to Chipworks, there are actually two different sized A9 processors floating around in the iPhone 6s and 6s plus released last week. That’s not really a surprise because Apple likes to have redundancy, especially when one of the manufacturers is Samsung. We’d heard that both Samsung and TSMC would be producing A9 processors destined for the iPhone 6s.

However, there appears to be a difference in size of the two A9s which might play a role in how the iPhone performs…

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chip Stories July 1, 2015

One of the main upgrades to the next iPhone’s internals will be a redesigned wireless system featuring a new Qualcomm-made LTE chip, as revealed by images of a prototype iPhone 6S logic board shared by a source. As shown in the image below, the new device will include Qualcomm’s MDM9635M chip, also known as the ‘9X35’ Gobi modem platform. This new chip promises significant performance improvements over the “9X25” chip found inside of the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, capable of delivering up to twice the theoretical LTE download speeds…

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chip Stories February 26, 2015

The WSJ is suggesting that Apple’s growing presence in Israel is focused on expanding the company’s chip design capabilities, reporting that it has hired most of the local employees of a chip design company shut down by Texas Instruments and is advertising new positions in silicon and semiconductor design.

“Apple’s Israeli acquisitions and its expanding local workforce show that the company is becoming more and more independent on the chip level, where it once had to rely on external suppliers,” said Shlomo Gradman, chairman of the Israeli Semiconductor Club.

While the report contains more speculation than hard fact, we noted yesterday that Tim Cook–who is currently visiting the country–is accompanied by Johny Srouji, whose bio on the Apple website says that he “leads all custom silicon architecture and development” …

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chip Stories February 4, 2015

Apple again said to be going back to Samsung for A9 chip in future iOS devices

After moving to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to produce chips for its latest mobile devices and reduce reliance on competitor Samsung, Recode reports that Apple is tapping Samsung for its next-gen A9 chips.

While Apple had hoped to rely more heavily on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to fabricate the Ax family of processors used in its iOS devices, the company has turned to Samsung for its next-generation A9 chip, according to people with knowledge of the situation…. Though Samsung refuses to identify chip customers, sources say the company is working to ensure an adequate supply of application processors for the next-generation iPhone.

The report mirrors much of what we’ve already heard in recent reports from others adding that “Samsung holds a technological edge over TSMC when it comes to the latest manufacturing process.”

More specifically, Recode cites the fact that “Samsung has managed to shrink the size of the transistors on its chips to 14 nanometers — effectively packing more processing power into a smaller space and consuming less power. TSMC is still at 20 nanometers.” The upper hand with Samsung’s tech was also noted as a reason behind Apple’s decision in earlier reports.

Samsung was said to be handling around 30% of Apple’s latest A8 chips in current gen iOS devices with TSMC producing the majority. Prior to the current-gen A8 chip, Samsung was previously producing the majority of Apple’s mobile chips alongside many other components for Apple products.

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