LTE iPad 3 Houses 19 Additional Chips for Cellular Networking

Chipworks suggests Apple will have a hard time downsizing this model for the iPhone

Silicon expert Chipworks has torn down the new Apple iPad with the main purpose of analyzing each and every piece of semiconducting material in it. They’ve confirmed that the 4G / LTE version has an additional logic board that houses a lot of extra chips.

The tech-savvy team at iFixit usually works hand in hand with the people at Chipoworks to provide insight regarding the chips used inside Apple’s devices.

iFixit teardowns can be read by pretty much everyone. They’re not only written in a humorous manner, but they also explain technicalities with regular terms that everyone can relate to.

The same thing cannot be said about Chipworks’ teardowns, which focus more on the chips themselves and, in particular, what’s inside their silicon housings.

“The new iPad is Apple’s first device that uses 4G LTE and also supports multiband 3G. In fact, it supports 700 MHz and 2100 MHz LTE, UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA  at 850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz  (all 3G), and GSM/EDGE  at 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz,” reads the latest Chipworks report on the new Apple iPad.

“That is seven different radio standards and six different frequencies! And of course, it also has a Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) transceiver and Bluetooth,” says the Canadian firm.

“To do all of this takes a lot of silicon (and GaAs devices). In the 4G version of the new iPad, attached to the main board is a secondary board dedicated to the cellular radios,” reads the teardown analysis. “We counted 19 different major packages, 10 on one side and 9 on the other, and many that contain more than one die!”

From here on, the Chipworks report looks at each chip in particular, with thorough explanations and comprehensive (microscopic) graphics. Technically savvy readers are most welcomed at this here address.

Chipworks concluded that Apple and its partners would have a tough time simplifying the process of achieving a worldwide-compatible device in the near future, hinting at potential drawbacks with the next iPhone.

“With multiple standards for GSM, CDMA, and 3G, it is already complicated enough to manufacture worldwide compatible devices,” writes Chipworks, adding that “there are 16 UMTS channels used for 3G.”

“With LTE, this will become significantly more complex with up to 43 channels. As you can see, the quantity of chips needed to make this happen is incredible. With the specialist RF devices needed to optimize signal and power efficiency, it is going to be a very difficult task to simplify this process,” says the firm.


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