The ever-excellent crew over at iFixit completed their initial teardown of the Early 2015 MacBook yesterday, creating some very nice shots of the Mac’s little logic board in the process. However not stopping there the crew also detached the SSD controller from the board, giving us our best look yet at what we strongly believe to be an Apple-built semi-custom or fully-custom SSD controller.

Images Courtesy iFixit

On the logic board itself, we can see that iFixit’s sample is equipped with Toshiba MLC NAND, 128GB per side, one package per side. However of greater interest is the chip bordered in orange, which based on the fact that it has multiple markings we believe to be the SSD controller, assembled in a Package-On-Package (PoP) fashion. The number we can decode is a part number for a 512MB Hynix LPDDR3 memory module; the other number we cannot decode at this time.

Multiple markings in this fashion is a tell-tale sign of a PoP chip, and having the SSD controller and its DRAM on-package with each other and located right next to the NAND chips makes a ton of sense, especially in such a cramped design. That said, while it means we can’t directly access the SSD die, it also confirms that this is not a strictly off-the-shelf SSD controller since someone had to go through the extra step of PoPing it.

Images Courtesy iFixit

Meanwhile having detected the chip from the logic board, we can see the underside of the chip, which has additional markings. At this time we are unable to decode the part number, 338S00055, though based on the location and PoP design we believe it to be the SSD controller. Otherwise the fact that it doesn’t match any other SSD controller part numbers is yet another clue that Apple had some kind of hand in developing the SSD controller.

Apple in traditional fashion is mum on the whole matter, but we’ll keep digging to see what else we can uncover about this unexpected surprise in their latest laptop.

Source: iFixit

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  • extide - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    Haha, yeah, it's weird, nobody has said anything about that extra DDR3
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    It's likely for PSR (Panel Self Refresh). E.g. the 2015 13" rMBP has an extra 512MB of DRAM as well.
  • repoman27 - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    I think jay5 may be right. Since the MacBook Air (Mid 2013) you can find a similar constellation of Broadcom BCM15700A2 and 512MB of DDR3L-1600 SDRAM. Is this for Power Nap? The location and association with a Broadcom chip make me doubt the PSR theory, but it does only appear to be present on MacBooks, not on any of the desktop models.
  • mczak - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    Wouldn't the memory for PSR need to be located on the other end of the display connector (that is on the display controller itself, so actually on the panel)?
  • extide - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    Yeah, I think that the location rules out PSR, and that it is probably for the broadcom chip. I wonder what they are doing there, though, because the silver module in dark blue seems to be a complete wifi module, and I wonder what the broadcom chip is doing anyways, and I guess that ddr3 is for it... Weird.
  • JJ Wu - Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - link

    512MB SK Hynix LPDDR2 is for SSD controller.
    Elpida part is LPDDR3 not DDR3L. And the density is 4GB not 512MB.
    Two Elpida 4GB LPDDR3 is the system memory of MacBook. Total is 8GB.
  • GotThumbs - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    I wonder how much this assembled "logic board" (not even qualifies as a motherboard?) costs Apple?

    While the OS is unchanged, I get the feeling this Apple product is moving towards a high-end Chromebook like device.

    Low-powered CPU (4.5 TDP), zero upgrade-ability and more like an expensive disposable device.

    Just my thoughts
  • Penti - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    It's still a 281 USD cpu, 256GB NAND, 8GB DDR3L and so on on there. Performance isn't really any or much worse than MBAir. Better screen and design obviously does sell here though. Something like the UX305 is like 700 USD and Apple could obviously start there too if they wanted to. For the end users it's as static and upgradeable as the MBAir. For the Apple technicians it's worse though as MBAir did have a removable battery and (custom no third party available) removable SSD. WiFi-module is still removable in the Air too. It by the way also has a Broadcom chip and 512MB ram on it's motherboard despite having the WiFi-module on a separate card.
  • id4andrei - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    The UX305 has better battery runtime and overall performance with a theoretically weaker chipset. This is what makes the macbook such a bad deal for the end user. The MBA is great, this one is not.
  • Penti - Saturday, April 18, 2015 - link

    Cooling/size matters on these Core-M machines but these chips are also configurable by the OEM's. MBAir is a dated machine today though TB helps in some use cases.

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