Posted: October 11, 2013

Contributed by Dick James

A couple of weeks ago we got hold of the newest iterations of Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, the Note 3. Somehow Samsung have managed to make it even thinner and yet with a bigger screen, up to 5.7”. We got hold of both the AT&T LTE and generic non-LTE world-phone models, and while they look the same on the outside, inside they are very different.

AT&T LTE Galaxy Note 3

Non-LTE Galaxy Note 3

 

If we look at the boards after removal from the phones, their shape and layout are broadly the same, but when we get into the details the differences start to show up.

AT&T LTE Galaxy Note 3

AT&T LTE Galaxy Note 3 Front board

AT&T LTE Galaxy Note 3 Back board

Non-LTE Galaxy Note 3

Non-LTE Galaxy Note 3 Front board

Non-LTE Galaxy Note 3 Back board

 

Tucked inside the AT&T phone is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 running at 2.3 GHz, whereas for the other phone Samsung has used their own Exynos 5 Octa 5420 (1.9 GHz) applications processor. Both hide under 3 GB of Samsung LPDDR3 SDRAM in the package-on-package (PoP) stack.

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5420 in non-LTE phone

Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974) in AT&T phone

 

One thing to note is the increased interconnect in the Exynos PoP; for some reason the Octa needs more solder balls to talk to the memory – three rows on two sides of the package, versus the Snapdragon’s two. Here’s a table of the main components in the two phones:

As you can see from the above, Qualcomm has a chunk of design wins in the LTE phone, while Samsung has used its own product for a lot of the slots in the other. Surprisingly, they have gone with Intel for the baseband chips; they do have their own designs in this space.

MSM8974 ARAGORN2

MSM8974 ARAGORN2 Die Mark

 

The Sony IMX135 image sensor chips are the latest in Sony’s range of mobile phone cameras, remarkable in that they stack the sensor itself over the image processing chip, and use through-silicon vias to connect the two, making a very compact module.

IMX135 die shot

IMX135 TSVs

 

Other parts worthy of note are the latest Synaptics S5050A touchscreen controller, and Cypress has achieved a design win for their Capsense chip, the CY8C20055. Given the locations of the devices in the phone, we figure the CapSense microcontrollers are controlling the the Menu and the Back buttons on the main display.  The Galaxy Note 3 boasts that it is glove-friendly, presumably a feature of this Cypress CapSense product. Chipworks has seen other Cypress Semiconductor Capsense controllers in the Galaxy S family, and we’re now several generations along in both. The CY8C20055-24LKXI is a new CapSense part number we had not seen in previous Galaxy S teardowns, so it is likely adding in the glove-friendly feature.

Also of note, Avago has launched their ACPM-7600 FEM in the LTE Note 3, though Murata and Skyworks get the rest of the design wins. Peregrine is taking advantage of their supply agreement to get their chips into the Murata SWUA antenna switch module.

Cypress Capsense CY8C20055

Cypress Semiconductor Capsense button controller chip

Avago ACPM-7600 FEM

Murata SWUA antenna switch module

Peregrine PE426880 die shot from the Murata SWUA module

Peregrine PE426880 die mark