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Apple Pencil's 'incredible' design packs 15 semiconductors into small space

Though the Apple Pencil is simple on the outside, the inner workings of the iPad Pro stylus are a major technological achievement, a new analysis from the silicon experts at Chipworks has found.




Upon dissecting the Apple Pencil, Chipworks discovered 15 semiconductors housed inside the 1-gram accessory, measuring just 176 millimeters long, and 9 millimeters thick.

"This is quite incredible for something so small," the chip analyzers concluded.

Their teardown of the Apple Pencil found that Texas Instruments and STMicroelectronics were responsible for the largest share of parts in the stylus. The device also houses chips from Maxim Integrated Products, Cambridge Silicon Radio, SiTime, Bosch, and Fairchild.

Chipworks also found an Apple-branded part inside the tip of the Pencil. Upon taking it apart, they discovered a driver integrated circuit designed and fabricated by STMicroelectronics.

Chipworks has promised much more in the coming weeks, including details on how the stylus and iPad Pro work together. The Apple Pencil can only be used with the iPad Pro, relying on special technology within the 12.9-inch tablet's display.

An earlier, more basic teardown of the Apple Pencil found that the device's logic board is folded in half to fit inside the writing and drawing tool. In its analysis, iFixit declared the Apple Pencil logic board to be the smallest it has ever seen.




The plastic shell of the Apple Pencil also houses a tube-shaped lithium-ion battery, rated at 3.82 volts and 0.329Wh. The device is rated for 12 hours of battery life, while 15 seconds of charging provides 30 minutes of uptime.

Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said late last year that the complex design of the Apple Pencil caused hiccups in assembly when the accessory launched. Supply chain yields are expected to improve as Apple's partners become more accustomed to building a new format device.

As of Tuesday, new Apple Pencil orders from the official Apple online store are still advertised with a 4-to-5-week delay before shipping, suggesting demand continues to outstrip supply.