A new report says that Apple had decided to go with the new FoWLP technology in the iPhone 7, dropping printed circuit boards.
Rumors that Apple is adopting the new Fan-out Wafer Level Packaging (FoWLP) instead of Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) since a year. A new report out of South Korea says that Apple just made the final decision to use the new technology of packaging chips in the iPhone 7.
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This is a radical new technology that suffered yield issues so far and therefore was not ready for production. Now apparently it is and it allows Apple to do what they love most - to make the iPhone thinner.
ETNews (Korean) reports that FoWLP is used for the A10 CPU and the Antenna Switching Module in the iPhone 7. Apple's partner TSMC, who makes the A10 chip is on the forefront of FoWLP. TSMC variant of FoWLP is called InFoWLP. "In" stands for integrated. TSMC can deliver the fully packaged A10 chip with InFoWLP.
FoWLP is an extension of standard wafer-level packages (WLPs) which enables the chip packaging already on the silicon wafer. According to SPTS Tech Insight, Fan-out WLP (FoWLP) takes individual die and embeds them in a low cost material such as epoxy mold compound (EMC) with space allocated between each die for additional I/O connection points, avoiding the use of relatively expensive Si real estate to accommodate a high I/O count. The images above from STATSChipPAC give an idea how FoWLP components look.
If Apple is actually going to talk about FoWLP adoption in the iPhone 7 is unlikely. They will just show off how much thinner the iPhone 7 got compared to the iPhone 6S. Many iPhone owners would rather see a larger battery in the iPhone 7 than yet another mm shaved off.
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Fan-out Wafer Level Packaging has also better thermal characteristics than PCB. The switch to FoWLP by Apple will drive the whole industry eventually away from PCB. Read the latest Apple iPhone 7 rumors.