Those who buy the new Apple Watch models that will be available soon will get a number of new functions (Series 8) and a new form factor with a larger display (Ultra), but will still have to make do with a 2020 system-in-package (SiP). . The S8 processor module installed in the new devices is an S6 equipped with minor improvements for controlling the screen (Ultra) or the new sensors (body temperature, improved acceleration sensors for accident detection). This was released two years ago together with the Apple Watch Series 6.
Same ID, same inner workings
Technical documents that Apple has disclosed to regulators in China show that it is basically the same processor – they also reveal the battery sizes, which have grown significantly in the Ultra. The ID number of the S8 is still called T8301, it corresponds to the S7. And even this was largely based on the S6 from the Series 6. Technically, the S6, S7 and S8 are dual cores (“Thunder”) with a maximum speed of 1.8 GHz. It was built in 7nm by TSMC using the N7P process. For comparison: The iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max now use a 4 nm process, which promises more transistors with lower power consumption.
It is unclear why Apple has not given its watch a new SiP for two years. There had already been criticism of the S7 last year. This, in turn, was mainly only adapted for the enlarged display of the Series 7. There was speculation that Apple could have done this to counter the chip crisis during the Corona period. But this issue is now settled, at least for the TSMC manufacturer in Taiwan. (In China, however, lockdowns in individual cities are routine.)
The performance of the Series 6 and 7 was and is sufficient even for more complex apps. However, with the Apple Watch Ultra, which represents the biggest step in the development of the Apple Watch since it went on sale, many users would have wished for a new SiP. However, Apple apparently assumes that the various new functions, including the largest screen of an Apple Watch to date, can be sufficiently supplied with power by the S8 (aka S6). The old SiP certainly has price advantages for the group and increases the margin.
However, a new SiP could make the computer clock even more powerful, for example in background activities, and a dual core in the 7 nm process does not seem to be future-proof at all. It remains unclear whether and when Apple will overhaul its S processors – so far there have been no rumors from Asia either. With the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus, Apple has meanwhile been inspired by the Watch: They run on the A15 SoC from last year.
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