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Apple again rumored to build 'iWatch' components with flexible, space-saving SIP designs

post #1 of 47
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A Tuesday report from Taiwan reiterated previous assertions that Apple would employ a new system-in-package design for the components in its so-called "iWatch," with production said to have begun on the device in time for a launch in the second half of this year.

Source: QPI Group
Source: QPI Group


Apple is believed to have tested system-in-package, or SIP, designs in its WiFi and fingerprint recognition modules before electing to go all-in with the technology, according to the China Times. Taiwanese semiconductor firms Kinsus Interconnect Technology, Nan Ya PCB, and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering are said to have won orders from Apple for component production.

In broad terms, SIP designs integrate many discrete chips into a single package. Unlike SOC designs -- such as Apple's A-series -- the individual pieces of a SIP component can be sourced from different fabs and even be created using different semiconductor technologies. This also allows for the integration of "embedded passives," like RF components, which generally cannot be added to an SOC. The report was first highlighted on Tuesday by G for Games.

By placing components closer together and significantly reducing or eliminating their individual packages, SIP designs can be much smaller and lighter than if designers placed the same components individually on a PCB. They also offer power advantages over non-integrated designs, and can be quicker -- though more expensive -- to manufacture than SOCs.

The report matches up with predictions revealed earlier this month by well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities. At the time, Kuo said that the iWatch would bring "massive adoption of SIP packaging technology to make the gadget slimmer and lighter."

Rumors of an Apple-branded wearable have circulated for years, picking up significant momentum in 2013. Apple is said to have tasked hundreds of employees with bringing such a product to market, and the company has snapped up industry experts in fashion, wearable devices, and fitness throughout the last 18 months.

The iWatch, if it does see a public release, is thought to carry a wide array of biometric sensors and feature a strong focus on health tracking. Many believe it will function as a stand-alone product, rather than be dependent on a more powerful device as Samsung has done with its Galaxy Gear.
post #2 of 47
Smaller is right up Apple's street and more expensive (within reason) isn't likely a barrier for Apple's premium product range and economies of scale. They already use a more advanced, smaller logic board in the iPhone it would be great to see reduced even more.

Example: iPhone 5S v Moto X with its complete lack of space optimization in order to save money.


Edited by SolipsismX - 4/29/14 at 12:57pm

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post #3 of 47

SIP is the new IGZO, then.

post #4 of 47

Something tells me Big Bob Mansfield had a role to play in bringing this technology forward. Special Project, indeed!

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post #5 of 47
Apple is waiting to go all-offese as soon as it knows that its future innovations are going to be protected catching entire industry by surprise. A lesson it learned hard way from iphone/ipad is that simply protecting patents won't protect it from Samsung and Google's copycat business model. Timing of WWDC can't be any better than this. In next few days Jury is going to beat the sh** out of Samsung by punishing it with a fine close to $2 billion and send a notice to tech industry about consequences of copying lead innovators. Apple WILL THEN release a truckload of new products while all this is fresh in everyone's memory and go all offense. Apple probably had a few products ready as early as last year but it did not want to rush to the market without knowing how patent infringement by Samsung/Google was going to be taken care of. It will NOW do so....Tim Cook is real smart guy and Apple has been playing Rope-A-Dope with Samsung/Google all along. Apple has taken many hits to wear out these copycats now and it's time Apple will prounce back and finish them off.....oh wait wasn't that Steve Jobs directive to Apple!
post #6 of 47
It occurred to me the other day, given the design skills at Apple and love of solid, quality products, there is a high end market out there with the likes of Rolex making that equivalent product, only 100 years or more earlier in design. While Apple may well make a consumer product line I wondered if they may not be tempted to have a go at the very high end also.
Edited by digitalclips - 4/29/14 at 1:42pm
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post #7 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

Something tells me Big Bob Mansfield had a role to play in bringing this technology forward. Special Project, indeed!
Rumors were that's why Big Bob stepped down from his SVP role.
post #8 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carthusia View Post

Something tells me Big Bob Mansfield had a role to play in bringing this technology forward. Special Project, indeed!

Is he the one that pushed for the purchase of PA Semi?

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post #9 of 47
All the technology and miniaturization created for the iWatch will ultimately pay nice dividends as it is incorporated into iPhones and other Apple devices.
post #10 of 47

Is this really Bob's work? Any pointers please to read?

post #11 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Is he the one that pushed for the purchase of PA Semi?

Not sure, but as head of Technologies, his work is centered on hardware, especially wireless and semiconductors. I'd find it hard to believe that he didn't at least "bless" the purchase.

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post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Smaller is right up Apple's street and more expensive (within reason) isn't likely a barrier for Apple's premium product range and economies of scale. They already use a more advanced, smaller logic board in the iPhone it would be great to see reduced even more.

Example: iPhone 5S v Moto X with its complete lack of space optimization in order to save money.

The motoX looks almost barbaric in comparison.
post #13 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post
 

Is this really Bob's work? Any pointers please to read?

http://thenextweb.com/apple/2012/10/29/apple-says-its-processor-plans-are-ambitious-puts-mansfield-in-charge-technologies-group/

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post #14 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chandra69 View Post
 

Is this really Bob's work? Any pointers please to read?

And this:

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-29/apple-s-bob-mansfield-shifts-work-to-special-projects.html

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post #15 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeloftroy View Post

The motoX looks almost barbaric in comparison.

It's the cheapest modern smartphone design hat has gotten extensive press. The Galaxy S line is much better by using both sides extensively and has continued to get better with each iteration even though it's not nearly as tightly packed or as small as what Apple brings to the iPhone.

edit: HTC phones look to be on par with Motorola.


Edited by SolipsismX - 4/29/14 at 2:45pm

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post #16 of 47
I'm so glad Cook did whatever he needed to to keep Mansfield around. He can focus on special projects like this while Jony and the Dan Riccio focus on day to day stuff and existing products.
post #17 of 47

This technology is great but it makes design verification and test impossible. Usually when this approach is used it's when the first or second iterations are rock solid before it is cast in stone. It must be verified it works before it's implemented. Chances are this is what has probably taken Apple so long to roll something out. Of course, the market also drives the timeline.  

post #18 of 47
I wonder if Apple will be able to use liquid metal.

One of the other exclusive licensees is Omega watch.

I guess they'll have to negotiate if they want to use it in watches.

Maybe they will work in collaboration, which would place them into entry level high end.
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post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaeloftroy View Post

The motoX looks almost barbaric in comparison.

Looks are deceiving. The Moto X is surprisingly svelte, but quite heavy compared to the iPhone.
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post #20 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Looks are deceiving. The Moto X is surprisingly svelte, but quite heavy compared to the iPhone.

Sure, but it has a large footprint. But that's beside the point. If they had spent more money on a more efficient board they could have probably saved some power use and definitely made an even sveltier phone by allowing the battery to take up less space for a given Wattage (less surface area over battery casing) and by reducing the additional PCB substrate.

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post #21 of 47
Apple bought 24 companies in the last 18 months and we barely know about half of them. Apple almost never buys a company with fully fleshed out end user products...it's all about picking up pieces of technology that can help them reach a much bigger goal. PA Semi didn't make products for end users and Apple wanted them for their tech and engineers. We've seen the fruits of that in Apple's CPU designs. Who would have thought back then that Apple would be alone in the market for low power mobile 64 bit chips?

What will be really interesting is this whole SIP thing. Not that this is new...Apple has been making their own system package designs since the A4. The real issue is that Apple is probably the industry leader in miniaturization and package design. Which means that whatever they design will have a tear-down unlike anything else out there. When you get that kind of specialization, miniaturization, and power savings in one place, it will be a design tough to duplicate.

But not impossible. Samsung could certainly do it if they put their mind to it. And I wouldn't rule out Google now that they have their cache of former-Apple engineers in the Nest deal.
post #22 of 47
Is this the first time we've heard of a fingerprint sensor on the (rumored) wrist device? That would be the mobile payments enabler and the final end of money as we know it, would it not?
post #23 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

SIP is the new IGZO, then.

Nope, sorry. There is no other ZO but IGZO, and thou shalt not put any other ZO before Him.
post #24 of 47

No matter how thin and elegant an iWatch might be, I still don't want one on my wrist. Perhaps when I'm old and in poor health, if it monitored my vital signs and alerted me to dangerous medical conditions that needed immediate attention, I might consider wearing something like that, but otherwise I can't imagine needing anything other than an iPhone in my pocket. Even a current iPhone does way more than I need. The prospect of having it strapped to my wrist doesn't remotely interest me. I gave up wearing suits 15 years ago and watches about 10 years ago and I'm not about to go back. If I need to wear either for special occasions I already have enough of both.

 

Note: I do buy at least one new suit per year, but watches, not so much.

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post #25 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Sure, but it has a large footprint. But that's beside the point. If they had spent more money on a more efficient board they could have probably saved some power use and definitely made an even sveltier phone by allowing the battery to take up less space for a given Wattage (less surface area over battery casing) and by reducing the additional PCB substrate.

While you're absolutely correct I don't think it would've increased sales.
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post #26 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Note: I do buy at least one new suit per year, but watches, not so much.

Sending Tim Cook an email for a smartsuit idea right now. Artist's rendition, below…

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post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Note: I do buy at least one new suit per year, but watches, not so much.

Sending Tim Cook an email for a smartsuit idea right now. Artist's rendition, below…
 

I can give you an courtesy  :) 

 

Cuffs, pleats, tight, loose, all go in and out of fashion, so whether I need a suit or not, I want to always have one that is in style when the occasion requires one.

 

I wish I could get away with showing up to a presidential dinner in jeans and a black mock turtleneck but somehow that that doesn't always work so I have to have a plan B.


Edited by mstone - 4/29/14 at 8:18pm

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post #28 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I can give you an courtesy  1smile.gif  

Cuffs, pleats, tight, loose, all go in and out of fashion, so whether I need a suit or not, I want to always have one that is in style when the occasion requires one.

I tend to buy my suits at Neiman Marcus or Hugo Boss. HB for lower cost suits, Armani for mid-range and Paul Smith for upper-mid-range. I haven't ever gone over $2k for a suit nor do I buy them ever year. Being a guy I feel I can get away with a modern suit design for many years. Of course, I do wonder — not worry — if my suit design is out-of-date and if people notice. I think 2-4 years is alright, but I definitely don't want to be wearing a suit that is a decade or two old. If I worry it's about being "that guy" in a 70's era suit in the 90's, as an example.

HB suits tend to hold up as well at the dry cleaners but they do tend to offer a modern style at a lower cost so if you're buying a new collection every year that would work. Personally, I was always a fan of three-button suit and could never get a double breasted suit to look right. I think it's because of my naturally slender build. I hope that the three-button suits would come back in style but at least the lapels meet higher up which still gives that same effect as a two-button suit.

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post #29 of 47
iPhones certainly are a marvel of consumer engineering. You have densities that make aerospace and defense electronics look spread out.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

Smaller is right up Apple's street and more expensive (within reason) isn't likely a barrier for Apple's premium product range and economies of scale. They already use a more advanced, smaller logic board in the iPhone it would be great to see reduced even more.
I don't see the cost as a huge factor here. You spend a few extra dollars on the board and make up for it with more space for the battery while reducing the size of the battery required.
Quote:
Example: iPhone 5S v Moto X with its complete lack of space optimization in order to save money.

I still wonder what in the hell was Google thinking when they bought Motorola.
post #30 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

SIP is the new IGZO, then.

No it is more like a half way mark between conventional PCB vs wafer scale and stacked wafers. Looking at the pic they are still using ICs packaged in whatever as opposed to gluing the dies to a substrate and bounding out from there.

What I wonder is if they will have several SIP packages on a PCB or rely upon the entire system fabed into one of these packages. I'm not sure if iWatch will catch my fancy but even if I don't buy one I suspect I will find the technology to be very interesting. If for nothing else I would expect migration of such technology into other iOS devices.

Why SIP tech in other iOS devices? Simple really to lower power and allow for increasing RAM and flash storage. I may be in the minority but I'm still a fan of small devices, however I don't want to give up performance in this small devices.
post #31 of 47
Yes exactly! This is why I will follow iWatch closely even if I don't have a strong desire to buy one at the moment. I can see such tech slipping into other products unnoticed yet giving Apple huge advantages in performance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ingela View Post

All the technology and miniaturization created for the iWatch will ultimately pay nice dividends as it is incorporated into iPhones and other Apple devices.
post #32 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
...but I definitely don't want to be wearing a suit that is a decade or two old.

As long as your haircut is modern, that could be considered pretty cool.

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post #33 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevenfeet View Post

Apple bought 24 companies in the last 18 months and we barely know about half of them. Apple almost never buys a company with fully fleshed out end user products...it's all about picking up pieces of technology that can help them reach a much bigger goal. PA Semi didn't make products for end users and Apple wanted them for their tech and engineers. We've seen the fruits of that in Apple's CPU designs. Who would have thought back then that Apple would be alone in the market for low power mobile 64 bit chips?
The scoop I got sometime ago was that PA Semi was working on a secret PowerPC project for Apple. When Steve made the announcement that Apple was switching to Intel, that effectively put PA Semi in a difficult financial position. So picking up PA Semi could be seen as a way of saying sorry for screwing up your company.
Quote:
What will be really interesting is this whole SIP thing. Not that this is new...Apple has been making their own system package designs since the A4.
My take on this tech is that it is slightly different than what Apple Has done in the past. In the past they have used stacked wafers built on compatible technology.
Quote:
The real issue is that Apple is probably the industry leader in miniaturization and package design. Which means that whatever they design will have a tear-down unlike anything else out there. When you get that kind of specialization, miniaturization, and power savings in one place, it will be a design tough to duplicate.
Well yes and no. Other manufactures have access to the same contractors so anybody can build a SIP based system. Apples best bet at protecting itself is putting IP they own into silicon.
Quote:
But not impossible. Samsung could certainly do it if they put their mind to it. And I wouldn't rule out Google now that they have their cache of former-Apple engineers in the Nest deal.

You make this into a bigger hurdle than it really is. What keeps manufactures away from such tech is usually cost. Especially if the manufacturing team has the misguided drive to make it as cheap as possible.
post #34 of 47
I sorta feel the same way. I say sorts because if they come out with a watch in a couple of years that could monitor my blood sugar I'd consider buying one and trying to get use to wearing it. So maybe we are on the same page?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

No matter how thin and elegant an iWatch might be, I still don't want one on my wrist. Perhaps when I'm old and in poor health, if it monitored my vital signs and alerted me to dangerous medical conditions that needed immediate attention, I might consider wearing something like that, but otherwise I can't imagine needing anything other than an iPhone in my pocket. Even a current iPhone does way more than I need. The prospect of having it strapped to my wrist doesn't remotely interest me. I gave up wearing suits 15 years ago and watches about 10 years ago and I'm not about to go back. If I need to wear either for special occasions I already have enough of both.

Note: I do buy at least one new suit per year, but watches, not so much.

No suits for probably a decade now.
post #35 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post


Nope, sorry. There is no other ZO but IGZO, and thou shalt not put any other ZO before Him.

 

I almost expected you to say 'Kneel before ZO'!

post #36 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


Snip... I hope that the three-button suits would come back in style but at least the lapels meet higher up which still gives that same effect as a two-button suit.

 

Sorry, but when Apple get into the clothing industry it'll be one button or fewer. Third parties will produce multi-button ad-ons with varying degrees of success.

post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

I sorta feel the same way. I say sorts because if they come out with a watch in a couple of years that could monitor my blood sugar I'd consider buying one and trying to get use to wearing it. So maybe we are on the same page?
No suits for probably a decade now.

What's a suit?
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post #38 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

What's a suit?

They're made in Armenia. lol.gif
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post #39 of 47
Nice!
post #40 of 47

Yawn.

 
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