iPhone 6 chips discussed: InvenSense in, ST out

September 26, 2014 // By Brian Coppa
Brian Coppa discusses some of the revelations in the iFixit teardown of the iPhone 6 from Apple.

Apple announced it broke a record with 4 million first-day pre-orders of its recently announced iPhone 6, which was double that of the iPhone 5 two years ago. Several industry forecasts projected 9 million orders to be processed in its first weekend. One of the major draws is the larger 4.7-inch screen for the iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch screen for the iPhone 6 Plus.

 

Apple never announces its component and chip manufacturers; however, reverse engineering firms quickly break Apple mobile devices apart to identify their suppliers, once they are available on the market. Once these companies are announced, it has a dramatic impact on their stock prices, depending on their new or lost stake in a new Apple product.

 

A gadget repair company called iFixit, based in Melbourne, Australia, has revealed the manufacturers of many chips and other electronic components within the iPhone 6, which has boosted exposure and investor interest in these chipmakers (see iFixit iPhone 6 teardown). iFixit technicians dissected an iPhone 6 to find a Murata WiFi module, a Broadcom touchscreen controller, and chips from Skyworks Solutions, Avago, RF Microdevices (RFMD), and TriQuint Semiconductor, among others.

 

Avago Technologies has both a high-band amplifier module and an integrated ultrahigh-band amplifier/FBAR filter module in these phones. Skyworks is developing the power amplifier modules for the new iPhone. TriQuint Semiconductor incorporated a 3G amplifier module, and RFMD has an antenna switch module. RFMD and TriQuint, long-time analog chipmakers, are awaiting regulatory approval for their merger, and recently they announced the new name for the future merged company to be called Qorvo.

 

An InvenSense MP67B MEMS-based motion sensor was found in the iPhone 6, replacing the motion sensor that had been provided by STMicroelectronics in earlier models. This new InvenSense 6-axis accelerometer and gyroscope has a standalone compass and an APU. [Editor's Note: See Figure 1 for an image of Invensense MPU-6000 family of which the MP67B is most likely an offshoot.]

 

 

 

System diagram of how to deploy an Invensense MPU-6000 chip Source: InvenSense.

 

GT Advanced Technologies, a crystal growth specialist, has provided the sapphire glass in past iPhones but was displaced by Corning Gorilla Glass for the cover. Qualcomm was identified as the manufacturer for the 4G LTE modem in the phones, while NXP Semiconductors has radio chips to enable the Near Field Communication (NFC) technology for the Apple Pay mobile e-payments service. The e-payment system has been touted as one of the major differentiating features for the iPhone 6 over the iPhone 5 models and top competitors, fueling the Internet of Things revolution. In addition, NXP also supplies a microcontroller as the M8 motion co-processor, which is critical to enabling the iPhone 6 sensors to work efficiently without excessively draining its battery.