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TSMC Deep Trench Capacitor Land-Side Decoupling Capacitor in Apple’s A10 Application Processor

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Yole TSMC DTC Apple A10 flyer

Reverse engineering and costing of the new Integrated Passive Device technology from TSMC used for Apple’s latest A10 application processor, found in the iPhone 7

Due to TSMC, Integrated Passive Devices (IPD) are back in the mobile industry. Information about the Apple A10 application processor (AP) integrated into the firm’s latest flagship, the iPhone 7, mentions the use of the first PoP Wafer Level Packaging for consumer devices developed by TSMC, called integrated Fan-Out - Package-on-Package (inFO-PoP). To enable this, TSMC has also integrated a brand new technology that has never been proposed before for high volume products. It is using high-density Deep Trench Capacitors (DTCs) on silicon substrates as land-side decoupling capacitors.

TSMC DTC Apple A10 iPhone7Plus trench System Plus Consulting 2

Located under the inFO-PoP, the Land-Side Capacitor (LSC) is in flip-chip configuration and supported by an extra layer on the printed circuit (PCB). The LSC has been developed by TSMC using trench capacitors to increase the capacitive area without changing the footprint of the component. This can compete with multilayer ceramic capacitor (MLCC) technology. 

In this report, we show the differences from ceramic technology and the innovations of this capacitor, including the trench silicon, oxide deposition and electrical performances. The process is compared to IPDiA technology. Detailed comparison with the LSC in the Exynos 8 and the Snapdragon 820 APs will explain the pros and cons of TSMC’s LSC technology.

This DTC process enables TSMC to offer a very thin capacitor, with high density and the same footprint as a MLCC 0204 component. The result is very cost-effective, as comparisons with ceramic capacitors in this report will show.

 TSMC DTC Apple A10 iPhone7Plus trench System Plus Consulting bd







Table of contents

Overview / Introduction


Company profile & Supply Chain


Physical Analysis

> Physical Analysis Methodology
> iPhone 7 Plus Disassembly
- A10 and LSC die removal
> LSC Packaging Analysis
- Die view and dimensions
- Die marking
- Die overview and delayering
- Die cross-section
- Die process
> Land-Side Decoupling Capacitor Comparison
- Packaged LSC comparison
- Deep Trench Capacitor Comparison


Electrical Performance

> Frequency Characteristics 






























Manufacturing Process Flow

> Chip Fabrication Unit
> DTC Process Flow


Cost Analysis

> Supply Chain Description
> Yield Hypotheses
> Die Cost Analysis
- Wafer cost
- Die cost
> Final Test Cost
> Component Cost


Estimated Price Analysis


Cost and performance comparison



About the authors


System Plus Consulting specializes in the cost analysis of electronics, from semiconductor devices to electronic systems. Created more than 20 years ago, System Plus Consulting has developed a complete range of services, costing tools and reports to deliver in-depth production cost studies and estimate the objective selling price of a product. System Plus Consulting engineers are experts in Integrated Circuits - Power Devices & Modules - MEMS & Sensors - Photonics – LED - Imaging – Display - Packaging - Electronic Boards & Systems.

Through hundreds of analyses performed each year, System Plus Consulting offers deep added-value reports to help its customers understand their production processes and determine production costs. Based on System Plus Consulting’s results, manufacturers are able to compare their production costs to those of competitors.

System Plus Consulting is a sister company of Yole Développement.

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  • Detailed photos

  • Precise measurements

  • Material analysis

  • Manufacturing process flow

  • Supply chain evaluation

  • Manufacturing cost analysis

  • Estimated sales price

  • Comparison with land-side capacitors in Samsung Exynos 8 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 820