Design Engineering

iPad Dissected

By DE staff   

General apple iPad reverse engineering

Ottawa reverse engineering firm, Chipworks, autopsy of iPad reveals Apple gadget's design secrets.

Chipworks, an Ottawa-based reverse engineering and patent infringement analysis firm, announced its findings that Apple has followed the same approach that it perfected with its iPod and iPhone development by using conservative, lower cost technology, and focusing its efforts on design and usability. Essentially, the iPad’s very small board makes it a large iPod rather than a small personal computer. 

Other highlights include:

  • Apple is not using the do-all touch screen controller from Texas Instruments that it used in the iPhone 3G, instead Apple has gone back to the three chip solution seen in the iPhone 2G.
  • 16 GB of memory is provided by two Samsung K9LCG08U1M 8 GB MLC NAND flash memory chips. We also expect to see Toshiba design wins in future products under a dual-source arrangement for the memory.
  • The Apple A4 processor is packaged similarly to the Apple iPhone processors using package-on-package technology, the lower part for the microprocessor and the upper for the two DRAM die. The DRAM die are confirmed to be Samsung 128 MB devices.
  • The accelerometer design win was by STMicroelectronics, continuing its success with Apple devices.

“Essentially, the iPad is an iPod Touch with an enhanced display and much increased battery life," commented Dick James, Senior Technology Analyst for Chipworks.  "The iPhone 2G-style touchscreen architecture perhaps reflects the date of design start, and we will likely see TI get the design win in the next generation iPad – especially as we have seen the same chip in the latest iPhone, iPod Touch, and Magic Mouse.”

The rest of the highlights, die markings from key chips and the ability to obtain full die photos are available on the company’s web site.


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