Teardown: Apple iPad Air packs faster A7

-November 04, 2013

Apple's iPad Air packs a somewhat faster A7 processor but few other surprises, according to early teardown results from iFixit, which partnered with Chipworks to identify components.

The iPad Air processor is marked APL5698 A7 Processor. The 64-bit SoC in the iPhone 5 is marked APL0698.

"Sadly [this is] not big news as it’s the same die in a different package, something with better thermals, as the clock has been cranked up," said a Chipworks representative who travelled to Australia to get one of the first units to go on sale. Chipworks "was hoping to see a new foundry (which would be huge news), or a die shrink or a different floor plan," he said.

In its own iPad Air teardown focused on the silicon, Chipworks said the new A7 uses the same die as the SoC in the iPhone 5. However it may be running faster (1.4 up from 1.3 GHz) and have a slightly different pinout for the Elpida memory configuration of the tablet.

"The iPad Air is mostly composed of devices that we have already seen," the teardown said.

Probably the biggest change in the iPad Air is the use of a significantly smaller battery to get to the tablet's thinner size and lower weight. The Air's 3.73V, 32.9 WHr, two-cell battery replaces the previous iPad's 43 WHr, three-cell behemoth, iFixit noted.

More details including pictures of the A7 and explorations inside the package are expected over the next few hours and days.

The other electronics in the iPad 5 are similar to earlier Apple products. According to the iFixit teardown, they include:
  • Elpida F8164A1MD 1 GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
  • Toshiba THGBX2G7B2JLA01 16 GB NAND Flash
  • NXP LPC18A1 (Apple M7 motion coprocessor)
  • Apple 343S0655-A1, a Dialog power management IC, according to Chipworks
  • USI 339S0213 Wi-Fi Module
  • Apple 338S1116 Cirrus audio codec, also in the iPhone 5c
  • A pair of Broadcom BCM5976C1KUB6G touch screen controllers
  • Qualcomm M9616M LTE baseband with 1 GB (128 MB) of DRAM
  • TriQuint TQF6514 RF power amp module, similar to the 6414 in the iPhone 5s
  • Three Skyworks SKY77-series LTE RF power amp/duplexer modules
  • Two Avago A79-series LTE RF Power Amplifier/Duplexer Modules
  • 227 LG, likely a Murata antenna switch/filter module
  • WTR1605L Transceiver Module
  • Qualcomm PM8018 PMIC
Continue reading to see the first pictures of the Apple iPad Air boards.
Next: Updated SoC

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