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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited May 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.

    [INDENT][IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/42482/width/350/height/700[/IMG] [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/42484/width/350/height/700[/IMG]

    [/INDENT]
  • Reply 2 of 46
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    SIP is the new IGZO, then.

  • Reply 3 of 46
    carthusiacarthusia Posts: 561member

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

  • Reply 4 of 46
    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!
  • Reply 5 of 46
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,254member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    carthusia wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 46
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    carthusia wrote: »
    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?
  • Reply 8 of 46
    ingelaingela Posts: 217member
    All the technology and miniaturization created for the iWatch will ultimately pay nice dividends as it is incorporated into iPhones and other Apple devices.
  • Reply 9 of 46
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member

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

  • Reply 10 of 46
    carthusiacarthusia Posts: 561member
    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.

  • Reply 11 of 46
    solipsismx wrote: »
    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.
    700 700
    The motoX looks almost barbaric in comparison.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    carthusiacarthusia Posts: 561member
    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/

  • Reply 13 of 46
    carthusiacarthusia Posts: 561member
    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

  • Reply 14 of 46
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S+Teardown/7122
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S+II+Teardown/5861
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S+III+Teardown/9391
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S4+Teardown/13947
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Samsung+Galaxy+S5+Teardown/24016

    edit: HTC phones look to be on par with Motorola.
    • www.ifixit.com/Teardown/HTC+One+Teardown/13494

    400
  • Reply 15 of 46
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    carthusia wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 46
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member

    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.  

  • Reply 17 of 46
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,990member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 46
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,980member
    The motoX looks almost barbaric in comparison.

    Looks are deceiving. The Moto X is surprisingly svelte, but quite heavy compared to the iPhone.
  • Reply 19 of 46
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 46
    sevenfeetsevenfeet Posts: 398member
    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.
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