Posted: April 24, 2015

Contributed by Jim Morrison and Daniel Yang

A few days ago, Apple sent us our tracking number indicating that our shipment would arrive today, Friday, April 24th. We were pleasantly surprised to be a recipient of a Watch today considering the stir Apple created a while back when they flipped availability dates from today to “May-June”. Kind of like Christmas.

Click here to download the full Basic Product Teardown Report of the Apple Watch

Jump to the May 7 Update on the S1 system in package

A much anticipated gadget

The Watch has been long anticipated. It will be interesting to see what impact this device has on the market, considering that ever since Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS, Apple has had a way of causing the consumer flood gates to open and creating a surge in consumer demand for toys. Look at the smartphone industry today, nearly 2 B units per year. Currently the wearables market sits at around $25 B per year with the potential to grow to $50 B by 2017. Could this Watch change this?


Market Understanding: Wearable devices

We here at Chipworks have examined dozens of wearables over the past few years and, while very cool, the consumer demand has just not been there. The abandonment rate for wearables is considerable enough that the market may only ever be a niche application (when compared to smartphones for example). However, of all the wearables we have examined throughout the past, the Apple Watch will be the most sophisticated we have seen to-date. Previous wearables have employed chips that have been around for years. Nothing very exciting. Will the sophistication of the Apple Watch enable features that overcome the abandonment rate of its predecessors? Only time will tell.


X-ray vision

Before getting too deep into the Watch, we took an X-ray of the watch in its entirety to see how the chip layout and count compare to our previous understandings from the launch. There is a lot of silicon in this device.


STMicroelectronics gyroscope and accelerometer

At the top left corner of the S1 module we were expecting to see a motion sensor from InvenSense, but, surprise surprise, we have a brand new STMicroelectronics 3 mm x 3 mm land grid array (LGA) package featuring a 3D digital gyroscope and accelerometer. The package marks feature the letter C followed by a three digit numeric 4,5,1. Great job on STMicroelectronics for this socket win.

Update: Friday we discovered the design win by STMicroelectronics for the 6 axis sensor for acceleration and roll, pitch and yaw (gyroscope). This is the first time that we see a true 6X sensor in an Apple product that doesn’t require an external accelerometer. In the iPhone 6 and 6+ we saw an Invensense 6 axis sensor and a Bosch 3 axis accelerometer. Here in an even more compact design, the Apple Watch, we finally have a solution for all 6 axis in a single component. We have some more indepth photos of the STMicroelectronics 6 axis sensor today to share with you. From the side view x-ray you can see two die stacked together; the MEMS sensor and the control ASIC. The plan view image looking down shows the wire bond attach area on the lower device. Later we hope to bring you some additional images of the ASIC and the MEMS die once we have separated them…


Analog Devices touch screen controller

Another surprise to us in the Watch is the socket scored by Analog devices for capacitive touch screen controller on which we observed package markings of AD7166. The ADI site does not list the AD7166 as a standard part number, however we did come across a link to a Product Change Notification (PCN) showing import and export documentation (on the analog devices website) for an “AD7166-202A Cortex M3 Based Cap” and dated April 2015. The link no longer functions so it was probably recently taken down. Too bad.

Texas Instruments OPA2376

Another clearly visible device is the Texas Instruments OPA2376 Precision, low noise, low quiescent current Op Amp:

Update: The S1 is a system in package – for sure!

It’s been almost a week and a half since we first got our hands on the new Apple Watch. On day one we were able to show you only what was not sealed inside the S1 system in package (SiP). The two key words here are system and package.


Inside the S1 SiP alone we have cataloged more than 30 components. Now, some of those components contain multiple die; the package-on-package (PoP) assembly, for example, contains the new Apple processor and the DRAM die. The NFC solution also contains the secure element as well as the NXP NFC controller and radio. So there are 30 individual components, and at least 30 pieces of silicon, all in a package that is only 26 mm x 28 mm. That is quite an accomplishment.


Apple and/or their suppliers have designed and manufactured a 26 mm x 28 mm package that is very unique. Let’s consider its construction for a moment. We have a common motherboard to which all of the components (wafer scale packages, PoPs, BGAs, etc.) have been attached. The entire motherboard, with all of its components, is then overmolded with a packaging compound containing silica or alumina spheres suspended in a resin. We see this same type of material in conventional IC packaging, but we have never observed this being used over a 26 mm x 28 mm motherboard. Was this designed to protect devices from perspiration? If yes, why then are some devices, like the 6-axis sensor and the second touch controller, not contained within the S1 SiP?

Some of the key findings so far:

  • The new Apple APL0778 application processor measures 5.2 mm x 6.2 mm and is fabbed on Samsung’s 28 nm LP process.
  • Dialog has the PMIC socket for the watch, but Maxim got the codec and amplifier sockets. What happened to Cirrus? They had been the incumbent in iPhones and iPads for several generations.
  • NXP scored the NFC and secure element and interface socket and Austria Micro Systems got the NFC signal booster
  • STMicroelectronics not only grabbed the 6-axis sensor, but they also have an STM32 MCU within the S1, as well as the optical emitter/sensor encoder die under the shaft of the Digital Crown.
  • Texas Instruments has 6 wins in the S1 ranging from battery management to op amps.
  • Skyworks Wi-Fi LNA + switch and PA
  • Above you see a composite image of all the dies we have been able to identify so far.


Stay tuned as we have more fun with the S1!

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