Posted: September 10, 2017, Updated: September 22, 2017
TechInsights analysts have been working quickly to provide preliminary technical analysis of the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. We are examining the Intel version of the phone initially, and will be working over the coming days to uncover additional technical details of the device.
There are a few surprises in this phone. The following paragraphs are not necessarily presented in the order of their significance.
Check this space over the coming days for additional in-depth technical analysis of the iPhone 8 Plus.
The iPhone 8 Plus A1897 model we are examining initially is confirmed to contain the A11 Bionic AP with a die mark TMHS09. The A11 is a Package on Package (PoP) with the Micron MT53D384M64D4NY 3GB Mobile LPDDR4 SDRAM. The die size is 89.23 mm2, representing a 30% die shrink compared to the A10. The biggest new feature of the AP at announcement is a dedicated “Neural Engine” primarily for Face ID on the iPhone X, but being an inference engine, it could also be used to improve Siri as well as for AR applications. This should be an Apple custom design based on Apple’s multiple AI startup company acquisitions in recent years. While this inference-based core may not be fully utilized in the iPhone 8, we will not have to wait for the iPhone X to start to analyzing and delayering it, for a deeper look at the IP.
Phil Schiller introduced us to iPhone 8's cameras beginning with the A11 Bionic's specs, which include a new Apple-designed image signal processor (ISP) that helps improve autofocus (AF) performance in low-light, and features pixel processing for enhanced sharpness and texture. rst time, the ISP on iPhone’s application processor (AP) features hardware-enabled multi-band noise reduction. Of course, this new AP functionality complements the processing done on the stacked chip image sensors’ companion ISPs.
As for the image sensors, Mr. Schiller commented at launch that while there is no change for the iPhone 8 camera resolution, the rear-facing 12 MP camera features a new, larger CIS. iPhone 8 Plus uses a dual camera system adding a telephoto camera with 12 MP CIS. The FaceTime camera resolution remains unchanged at 7 MP. We don’t recall hearing the term ‘iSight’ during the September 22 event, and it appears the iSight sub-branding has been dropped from Apple’s iPhone product specification pages. Regardless, the new CIS is reported to features “deeper pixels”, a feature we’re curious to investigate, and a new color filter. Mr. Schiller also mentioned the 12 MP cameras are more power efficient. Our initial speculation on this statement is iPhone 8's stacked chip camera ISPs might now be fabricated using TSMC's 28 nm line. Since Apple started using Sony stacked (Exmor RS) image sensors in 2013 (iPhone 5s) we have found iPhone’s camera ISPs fabricated with either 65 nm or 40 nm generation process technology. Sony has previously used TSMC 28 nm generation ISPs for its own IMX318, but we haven’t seen that in an Apple product yet. There is also the possibility the camera chip’s ISP is fabricated using FD-SOI. Recalling Junko Yoshida of EETimes’ 2016 article, Sony was rumored to be exploring FD-SOI for stacked imager ISPs. We’ll find out soon enough as our lab will soon cross-section the new chips.
The video performance is claimed to be the highest quality video capture available in a smartphone. The A11 also features an Apple-designed video encoder enabling 4K video at 60 fps and Slo-mo 1080p video at 240 fps. Augmented reality (AR) was prominently featured in the September 22nd announcement, and the iPhone 8 is claimed to be the first smartphone with substantial customization for AR. As mentioned in February , Tim Cook and Team Apple consider AR to be the next big thing and the camera modules are apparently individually calibrated with AR in mind.
We’ll be providing deeper technical analysis through our ChipSelect IS subscription service, but we’re happy to share these initial camera-related teardown findings:
The dual camera module size is 21.0 mm x 10.6 mm x 6.3 mm thick. Based on our initial X-rays it appears the wide-angle camera uses optical image stabilization (OIS), while the telephoto camera does not (the same configuration as iPhone 7 Plus).
The wide-angle Sony CIS has a die size of 6.29 mm x 5.21 mm (32.8 mm2). This compares to a 32.3 mm2 die size for iPhone 7’s wide-angle CIS. We fast-tracked the die photographs for this teardown blog so didn’t record the color filter images today, however we can confirm a 1.22 µm pixel pitch. We do note a new Phase Pixel pattern, but the big news is the absence of surface artifacts corresponding to the through silicon via (TSV) arrays we’ve seen for a few years. A superficial review of the die photo would suggest it’s a regular back-illuminated (BSI) chip. However, we’ve confirmed it’s a stacked (Exmor RS) chip which means hybrid bonding is in use for the first time in an Apple camera!
We’ve reached our publishing deadline for the day, but we can confirm a 1.0 µm pixel pitch and apparent hybrid bonding on the Sony Exmor RS telephoto CIS die, as we see on the wide-angle chip. The die size is 6.29 mm x 5.21 mm (32.8 mm2).
The front-facing camera module size is 6.8 X mm x 5.8 mm x 4.4 mm thick.
The front-facing Sony CIS die size is 3.73 mm x 5.05 mm (18.8 mm2) and has a pixel pitch of 1.0 µm. Both are metrics are aligned with iPhone 7’s front-facing camera, however we also noted the absence of TSVs so we’ll be doing more work to explore the hybrid bonding on this Exmor RS die.
The iPhone 8 Plus A1897 model we are examining initially is an Intel solution based phone. We see Intel’s next generation Baseband Processor (Modem) the PMB9948. With many thanks to our lab colleagues’ quick turnaround, we have seen the die marks as “X2748 B11”. It is Intel’s XMM7480 modem and is the company’s fourth-generation LTE modem.
The Transceiver is new Intel Trx, the PMB5757. This device will be into the lab shortly to deliver us die marks and die photo. We’ll update our post as these images become available.
The balance of the RF front end looks much like the iPhone 7 with the following observations on winners in our iPhone 8 Plus; Envelope tracking goes to Qorvo 81004, High-band PAMiD goes to Broadcom 8066LC005, Mid-band PAMiD goes to Broadcom 8056LE003 and the Low-band PAMiD goes to Qorvo 76041.
Intel PMB6848 (also known as the X-PMU 748). Apple 338S00309, 338S00248.
The version of the phone we are examining first is equipped with a SK Hynix H23Q2T8QK6MES-BC 256GB NAND Flash. We suspect that it is SK Hynix’s 48-Layer 3D NAND Flash. We are very excited and will update you with our findings very soon.
We weren’t too surprised to find a NXP NFC module in the iPhone 8 Plus. This one has package markings ‘80V18’. This is different from the PN67V we found in the iPhone 7 Plus.
NXP PN64V iPhone 7 Plus A1784
Again, our lab has got the die marks 7PN552V0C of the controller die.
The iPhone 8 Plus we are examining contains the Universal Scientific Industrial (USI) 339S00397 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. We will decap it to find who wins the socket. Since Apple has announced that the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus support Bluetooth 5.0 we suspect that the wireless combo chip in the USI module might be the Broadcom BCM4361. TechInsights previously analyzed the Broadcom BCM4361 wireless combo SoC when we found it in our Samsung Galaxy S8 analyses.
We see three 338S00295 Audio Amplifiers.
 Sony To Use FD-SOI in Stacked Image Sensors
 Tim Cook: Augmented Reality is as big of a technology as the smartphone
Our analysts will continue to publish their findings on the iPhone 8 Plus over the coming days. Check back to this post often for updates, or register here to receive notifications of updates to our blog.
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