[4th-gen iPod nano Teardown] Where Are DDR, Samsung Memories? (2)

Oct 15, 2008
Hiroki Yomogita, Nikkei Electronics

Continued from [4th-gen iPod nano Teardown] nano Shows Potential for Tapping Input (1).

On contrary, I was surprised not to see DDR memory in the new nano. A large DDR memory chip was always packaged on a substrate in the previous models. It could be integrated in the same package with a microcontroller or other SoCs, considering Apple rather likes to devise its packaging technology.

Regarding memory, I was also surprised not to see any memory manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on the substrates. It is possible that the nano we broke down just happened not to have any Samsung memory, as Apple procures memory chips from several different manufacturers.

However, some industry sources say that the relation between Samsung and Apple is souring. The rumor has it that the relationship between the two companies has worsened since Samsung launched its "Omnia" smartphone coinciding with the market debut of the "iPhone 3G," though this is just speculation.

Q: Were any components different from those in the previous model?

A: It uses Samsung's custom SoC, just like its predecessor. The wheel controller is a product of Cypress (the PSoC CY8C2143424LCX1). These components seem to be ordinary, as they are the same ones used in the previous nano.

Details of the main substrate (Click each picture to enlarge)

As for audio codecs, Apple has used Wolfson Microelectronics' products thus far. However, it was impossible to determine who made the codec IC in the latest nano as it was a bare chip. Some say Wolfson's IC isn't used in the latest nano or touch, but I couldn't figure out the chip's manufacturer from this substrate.

However, Apple's stance to proactively use the smallest and most advanced products are showed in the passive components and some other parts that it uses. For example, the nano employed Epson Toyocom's ultra small 32.768kHz type crystal oscillator. I think this type, which uses a metal cover instead of a glass cover over the oscillator, emerged on the market quite recently.

Other than the oscillator, Apple seems to have integrated a circuit for the USB charger and power supply circuits including a power management circuit into a single module, with the aim of decreasing the size of the mounting area.

Q: Did you get the general impression that system integration has significantly advanced?

A: Yes. At this level, the composition of the next-generation model is likely to depend on what new functions Apple will consider adopting.

Details of the click wheel (Click each picture to enlarge)