IC Friday: Apple iPhone’s CPU


iphone-arm.jpg iphone-ram1.jpg iphone-ram2.jpg

As promised, this
thanks to the guys at Think Secret, I have started imaging the chips inside the Apple iPhone. I started out with the processor and can confirm that the chip contains both the ARM CPU and the RAM, three dies to be exact. Unfortunately, there was not much to look at under the microscope. The CPU had what looked to be a model number and the RAM chips had what looked to be part of a model number on the cut-away part of the die. No visible logos or slogans on these chips. It was also unfortunate that the chips had a layer of metal on top which prevented me from seeing most of the actual circuitry. The only marginally interesting part was that under 100x magnification, it seemed that some of the perforations in the metal on the CPU may have been letters instead of square holes. You can judge for yourself.

In any case, I removed all of the chips from the iPhone using a hot plate so feel free to suggest the next chip for imaging in the comments. The FLASH was removed separately using Chipquick and will be saved for potential reading. Below are scans (~4MB each) of the two logic boards to help you make the selection.

iphone-circuits-nometal-front-small.jpg iphone-circuits-nometal-back-small.jpg


iphone-cpu-4x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-4x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-4x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-10x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-10x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-10x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-10x-04.jpg iphone-cpu-10x-05.jpg iphone-cpu-10x-06.jpg

iphone-cpu-20x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-20x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-20x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-40x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-40x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-40x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-60x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-60x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-60x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-60x-04.jpg iphone-cpu-60x-05.jpg iphone-cpu-60x-06.jpg

iphone-cpu-100x-01.jpg iphone-cpu-100x-02.jpg iphone-cpu-100x-03.jpg

iphone-cpu-100x-04.jpg iphone-cpu-100x-05.jpg iphone-cpu-100x-06.jpg

iphone-ram-4x-01.jpg iphone-ram-4x-02.jpg iphone-ram-4x-03.jpg

iphone-ram-10x-01.jpg iphone-ram-10x-02.jpg iphone-ram-10x-03.jpg

iphone-ram-20x-01.jpg iphone-ram-20x-02.jpg iphone-ram-20x-03.jpg

iphone-ram-60x-01.jpg iphone-ram-60x-02.jpg iphone-ram-60x-03.jpg

iphone-ram-100x-01.jpg iphone-ram-100x-02.jpg iphone-ram-100x-03.jpg

14 thoughts on “IC Friday: Apple iPhone’s CPU

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  2. nico Post author

    Thanks for the compliment. If you know of some free program to do this let me know and I will try to make the composite image next time.

  3. nico Post author

    Marius, thanks for the heads up. I have just installed Hugin with autopana and have successfully made the “panorama” of this weeks IC Friday chip. Looks nicer than having to look through all of the 4x images.

  4. ChoJin

    The vias are not “letters”, they’re just optimized vias AFAIK. These shapes are used more and more. Is the process 90nm or 65nm?

  5. nico Post author

    I think the via optimizations that you mention are simply an increase in surface area to give better impedance performance. You may be right and those shapes could be perfectly arbitrary. As far as the process, I am using optical imaging so I can’t resolve anything smaller than a few microns. Not that any transistors can be seen under the metal anyway.

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