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iPhone video teardown reveals Samsung, Intel, Balda design wins

Semiconductor Insights, a firm specializing in technical investigation of circuit design and process innovations, has compiled the first known video teardown of Apple Inc.'s iPhone, revealing major design wins by the likes of Samsung, Intel and Balda.

"Apple has packaged three parts with their own markings, and six more that seem to have Apple-style part numbering and other manufacturer markings," said Greg Quirk, Technical Marketing Manager at Semiconductor Insights. What is also interesting, he said, are the components that are similar between the iPhone and some of the latest iPod models.

NAND flash

For example, the 8GB iPhone employs Samsung's 65-nanometer 8-Gbyte MLC NAND flash. "This is the exact same component that was used in the 8-Gbyte iPod nano," the analyst said. "This memory is used to store things like songs, pictures, and videos." Similarly, the 4GB version of the iPhone uses the same 4GB NAND flash chip as the 4GB iPod nano.

NOR and RF

Handling the Apple handset's code execution for call functionality is an Intel wireless flash chip with 32 Megabits of NOR coupled with 16 Megabits of SRAM. The iPhone also sports three RF components: there's an Apple-branded part that has Infineon die markings. This could be the transceiver, according to SI, as the iPhone's baseband processor is the Infineon PMB8876 S-Gold 2 multimedia engine with advanced EDGE functionality. Rounding out the RF chips is the Marvell 88W8686 (a is a 90-nm Wireless LAN device) and a CSR BlueCore 4 ROM (a Bluetooth component also used in the BlackBerry Pearl 8100).

Apple-branded components

The iPhone's central processor is one of the components that features Apple package markings, but by decapsulating the device SI was able to identify it as a Samsung chip (as was exclusively reported by AppleInsider back in January), which features a three stacked die package containing the S5L8900 processor and two 512 Mbit SRAM dies.

Another Apple-branded part is the Broadcom BCM5973A. While there is no additional information available on the chip, SI estimates that it provides the I/O controller used for the video interface to the touch screen. The third Apple-branded part is said be designed by Philips, but unfortunately the die markings made it difficult for the firm to determine its origin.

iPhone's audio codec is reported to be the Wolfson WM8758, which is the same codec used in Apple's current iPod video. This means users should get the same sound quality as they would experience from their iPod, according to Quirk. Meanwhile, the power amplifier is reportedly supplied by Skyworks, a similar part to the one used in the Motorola RAZR V3x.

Of all the iPhone component suppliers, Balda, a German company, is reported to have scored the biggest design win with the touch screen. "Balda is known for making touch screen that are durable and scratch resistant, a common complaint of the screen in iPods," said Quirk. "Balda has worked with Nokia, Motorola and Sony-Ericsson, but this is their most visible design win that we're aware of, which could help them get further recognition in the LCD industry."

Watch the video teardown and view pictures of the iPhone logicboard, below:

Watch the video teardown