Teardown shows Apple Watch S1 chip has custom CPU, 512MB RAM, 8GB storage

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited May 2015
The first complete teardown of the S1 system-on-chip in the Apple Watch shows parts from a number of different manufacturers, including a Broadcom wireless chip, and memory from Elpida, Toshiba, and SanDisk, a detailed look inside the custom chip revealed on Thursday.




At the heart of the S1 is an Apple-designed processor, labeled the APL 0778, as discovered by ABI Research. The Broadcom chip is a BCM43342, capable of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and even FM radio, although the FM functions aren't actually used. Supporting the NFC capabilities, used for Apple Pay, are an NXP-made controller and a signal booster from AMS.

The device has 512 megabytes of Elpida RAM, which is paired with 8 gigabytes of storage from SanDisk and Toshiba. The Watch stores relatively little on-board, instead pulling most data from a paired iPhone. Users can, however, save a music playlist to their Watch for unpaired listening, and native third-party apps are planned for later this year.

Accelerometer and gyroscope functions are handled by an STM chip, while an ADI controller handles touch gestures. Finally, power is routed through a Dialog power management unit and an IDT-made wireless charger.

ABI commented that the S1 is an "obvious variation from Apple's smartphones," compressing many parts normally reserved for those devices. A recent Chipworks X-ray of the S1 showed that the STM chip is the first in an Apple product that merges accelerometer and gyroscope functions.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    In other words, more computing capacity than my original 2007 iPhone!
  • Reply 2 of 32
    pembrokepembroke Posts: 216member
    Unfathomable complexity and minuteness. The people who make these things may as well be gods.
  • Reply 3 of 32
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    In other words, more computing capacity than my original 2007 iPhone!

    In others words, iPhone needs more RAM. :)
  • Reply 4 of 32
    pembroke wrote: »
    Unfathomable complexity and minuteness. The people who make these things may as well be gods.

    I'd like to see this crammed into a single chip. I'm amazed wifi fits in there, antenna and all. I remember trying to get a CF Card Wifi adapter to work with an old Sharp Zaurus Linux PDA and finding the PDA's battery life would go from "joke" to "why bother?"
  • Reply 5 of 32
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,949member

    Apple's on a roll on miniaturization. First the new MacBook with a complete, full featured computer (not part of it like the Intel stick) motherboard in 4x1.5 inches, then a remarkable Apple Watch S1 in less than 2x2 inches. For those complaining that it's performance doesn't match a Mac Pro, look at what Apple crammed into so little space. I would say the Apple Watch is as powerful as many cut-rate PCs of today and comparable to a regular Mac from the turn of the century. Think about the options Apple has in creating other devices using the S1 as the main building block. Get rid of the watch-only items and they've got a good computing platform that would fit almost anywhere. A typical automotive ECM could fit a dozen S1-based systems inside it's box.

  • Reply 6 of 32
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post





    I'd like to see this crammed into a single chip. 

    That is probably not possible because of all the third party vendors. All of those chips are full of IP that would need to be licensed and some of the manufacturers would probably not be willing to license it. I agree it would be nice because the watch could potentially be thinner but I just don't see it happening anytime soon.

  • Reply 7 of 32
    rob53 wrote: »
    Apple's on a roll on miniaturization. First the new MacBook with a complete, full featured computer (not part of it like the Intel stick) motherboard in 4x1.5 inches, then a remarkable Apple Watch S1 in less than 2x2 inches. For those complaining that it's performance doesn't match a Mac Pro, look at what Apple crammed into so little space. I would say the Apple Watch is as powerful as many cut-rate PCs of today and comparable to a regular Mac from the turn of the century. Think about the options Apple has in creating other devices using the S1 as the main building block. Get rid of the watch-only items and they've got a good computing platform that would fit almost anywhere. A typical automotive ECM could fit a dozen S1-based systems inside it's box.

    But but but the Watch's lack of USB-C ports means it's an "aspirational" product. ("Aspirational" is the new "bespoke": AI's overused buzzword of the month). :lol:
  • Reply 8 of 32
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,947member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Apple's on a roll on miniaturization. First the new MacBook with a complete, full featured computer (not part of it like the Intel stick) motherboard in 4x1.5 inches, then a remarkable Apple Watch S1 in less than 2x2 inches. For those complaining that it's performance doesn't match a Mac Pro, look at what Apple crammed into so little space. I would say the Apple Watch is as powerful as many cut-rate PCs of today and comparable to a regular Mac from the turn of the century. Think about the options Apple has in creating other devices using the S1 as the main building block. Get rid of the watch-only items and they've got a good computing platform that would fit almost anywhere. A typical automotive ECM could fit a dozen S1-based systems inside it's box.


    I think Apple watch is the most powerful Apple device based on footrprint estate.

    One thing is holding me back from buying one is Apple restriction on third party FART apps...yup /s :)

  • Reply 9 of 32
    schlackschlack Posts: 676member
    wow. has as much ram as my xbox360 does.
  • Reply 10 of 32
    afrodriafrodri Posts: 190member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     

    That is probably not possible because of all the third party vendors. All of those chips are full of IP that would need to be licensed and some of the manufacturers would probably not be willing to license it. I agree it would be nice because the watch could potentially be thinner but I just don't see it happening anytime soon.


     

    Plus a lot of those different chips are fabbed in very different processes. If you try to make DRAM in an MPU/CPU process you end up with memory that has poor density and wastes the several layers of interconnect that an MPU process has. If you try to make a processor in a DRAM process you end up with a slow, bloated processor because DRAM is optimized differently and has fewer layers of metal.

     

    Also, while putting everything on one chip offers some nice space and power savings, it also can be more expensive because chip yield decreases with larger chips.

     

    3D integration with Silicon vias offers a nice tradeoff by allowing you to fab different parts in optimized fab processes and then connect them together with high bandwidth, but it offers its own set of difficulties (cost, heat dissipation, etc...). 

     

      I think we will see increasing integration, but it will take time and will raise its own set of problems / tradeoffs.

  • Reply 11 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,371member
    Base on that design that is probably the gating items with the watch. That is the most densely design chip/circuit I have seen. There is so much work that goes in to making that part I can see their yields being low, there is so many things that can go wrong with that and if one things does not work the part is scraped too hard to rework.
  • Reply 12 of 32
    Those are cm.. so about 1"x1"! 4 times smaller than if it were 2"x2"
    rob53 wrote: »
    Apple's on a roll on miniaturization. First the new MacBook with a complete, full featured computer (not part of it like the Intel stick) motherboard in 4x1.5 inches, then a remarkable Apple Watch S1 in less than 2x2 inches. For those complaining that it's performance doesn't match a Mac Pro, look at what Apple crammed into so little space. I would say the Apple Watch is as powerful as many cut-rate PCs of today and comparable to a regular Mac from the turn of the century. Think about the options Apple has in creating other devices using the S1 as the main building block. Get rid of the watch-only items and they've got a good computing platform that would fit almost anywhere. A typical automotive ECM could fit a dozen S1-based systems inside it's box.
  • Reply 13 of 32
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,898moderator
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

     

    Apple's on a roll on miniaturization. First the new MacBook with a complete, full featured computer (not part of it like the Intel stick) motherboard in 4x1.5 inches, then a remarkable Apple Watch S1 in less than 2x2 inches. For those complaining that it's performance doesn't match a Mac Pro, look at what Apple crammed into so little space. I would say the Apple Watch is as powerful as many cut-rate PCs of today and comparable to a regular Mac from the turn of the century. Think about the options Apple has in creating other devices using the S1 as the main building block. Get rid of the watch-only items and they've got a good computing platform that would fit almost anywhere. A typical automotive ECM could fit a dozen S1-based systems inside it's box.




    Even less than 1"x1".  

  • Reply 14 of 32
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    schlack wrote: »
    wow. has as much ram as my xbox360 does.

    And iirc, more than the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • Reply 15 of 32
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,949member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by starbot View Post



    Those are cm.. so about 1"x1"! 4 times smaller than if it were 2"x2"



    Didn't see that little CM in the corner so my analysis is even better than I thought!

  • Reply 16 of 32
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by fallenjt View Post

     

    I think Apple watch is the most powerful Apple device based on footrprint estate.


    Who will be the first to build a compute cluster of Apple Watches? 

  • Reply 17 of 32
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member

    The amount stuff going on in that little chip set is freak'n amazing!

  • Reply 18 of 32
    Apple's "obsession with integrationness" /s
  • Reply 19 of 32
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,339member

    And there are people complaining about Apple increasing their R&D budget to $1.9B.  



    Samsung could only dream of designing stuff this elegant.  

  • Reply 20 of 32
    sflocal wrote: »
    And there are people complaining about Apple increasing their R&D budget to $1.9B.

    Samsung could only dream of designing stuff this elegant.  

    Samsung can't do elegant like Apple can. The can only do Bizarro versions. Even their new S6 has numerous misaligned holes and ports. They aren't craftsmen like Apple.
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