PS3 Slim Teardown Video on G4 TV

September 16, 2009 Hardware, Teardowns — Miro

We caught G4’s eye recently with out PlayStation3 Slim Teardown. They invited Kyle to their studios in Hollywood to show how to disassemble the PS3 Slim. G4 filmed the whole process and also interviewed Kyle about iFixit’s teardown platform. Watch the video below or click on the HD icon to visit G4’s website to watch it in HD!

Microsoft Zune HD Teardown

September 15, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke
Following up on our slew of iPod teardowns last week, we’ve just finished taking apart the new kid on the block: the Zune HD. Microsoft has taken a long time to get to market with this device, and the hardware shows it. It’s lighter than the iPod touch, smaller in two dimensions (skinnier and shorter, but 0.4 mm thicker), claims better battery life with a smaller battery, and beat Apple to market with an OLED screen.
Highlights:
* The Zune has a Samsung-manufactured 3.3 inch OLED display. This part is likely the most expensive item on the Zune’s bill of materials, and contributes to the improved battery life.
* The OLED screen is incredibly thin (1 mm) and seems more rugged than a traditional LCD panel.
* We can confirm that the Zune HD does NOT have 802.11n support. Instead, it’s got a super efficient Atheros AR6002GZ 802.11g chip: http://www.atheros.com/pt/bulletins/AR6002Bulletin.pdf
* The Zune has an Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and programmable pixel shaders. In a stark contrast to Apple’s relationship with Samsung, NVidia’s product page (http://www.nvidia.com/object/product_tegra_apx_us.html) actually has a link to buy the Zune HD.
* The battery capacity is 660 mAh. That’s about 16% less than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch. However, Microsoft promises a longer run time than the touch for both music and videos. They may have pulled it off– Microsoft certainly had a lot of motivation to push for super low-power hardware solutions in this device.
* Toshiba supplied the NAND flash in our unit, and Hynix provided the SDRAM. However, we’ve had reports that Microsoft is using a few different suppliers for these parts.

Following up on our slew of iPod teardowns last week, we’ve just finished taking apart the new kid on the block: the Zune HD. Microsoft has taken a long time to get to market with this device, and the hardware shows it. It’s lighter than the iPod touch, smaller in two dimensions (skinnier and shorter, but 0.4 mm thicker), claims better battery life with a smaller battery, and beat Apple to market with an OLED screen.

The Zune HD in 9 easy-to-assembly pieces

The Zune HD in 9 easy-to-assembly pieces

Highlights:

  • The Zune has a Samsung-manufactured 3.3 inch OLED display. This part is likely the most expensive item on the Zune’s bill of materials, and contributes to the improved battery life.
  • The OLED screen is incredibly thin (1 mm) and seems more rugged than a traditional LCD panel.
  • We can confirm that the Zune HD does NOT have 802.11n support. Instead, it’s got a super efficient Atheros AR6002GZ 802.11g chip.
  • The Zune has an Nvidia Tegra 2600 processor, supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 and programmable pixel shaders. In a stark contrast to Apple’s relationship with Samsung, NVidia’s product page actually has a link to buy the Zune HD.
  • The battery capacity is 660 mAh. That’s about 16% less than the 789 mAh battery in the new iPod touch. However, Microsoft promises a longer run time than the touch for both music and videos. They may have pulled it off– Microsoft certainly had a lot of motivation to push for super low-power hardware solutions in this device.
  • Toshiba supplied the NAND flash in our unit, and Hynix provided the SDRAM. However, we’ve had reports that Microsoft is using a few different suppliers for these parts.

iPod shuffle stainless steel SE

September 11, 2009 Hardware, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

If you like shiny things, Apple has an iPod for you. It’s like getting a free mirror! And it’s only $20 extra.

Pulling apart the new Shuffle SE

We’ve already taken apart one of these little guys, but we took apart the $99 iPod shuffle Special Edition because we were curious about the new case material. This iPod features an incredibly shiny stainless steel enclosure. According to Apple’s marketing-speak, “It’s as brilliant as your taste in music.”

  • Contrary to Apple’s typical claims of “smaller packaging to save the environment,” this iPod’s packaging is 65% larger than the original 3rd Gen shuffle.
  • The new shuffle weighs in at 17.2 grams, nearly 61% more than the 10.7 gram aluminum shuffle.
  • The black 3rd generation had a black screw, while our silver special edition had a silver screw. It looks like Apple gives you matching screws.

After removing the internals, the stainless steel casing weighs 12 grams. That doesn’t seem like much, except that the iPod itself only weighs 5 grams. Over 70% of this iPod’s weight comes from its shell!

Removing the logic board and battery

iPod Shuffle case, logic board, and battery

iPod touch 3rd Gen: Where’s the camera?

September 11, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke

Another day, another teardown. Today we took apart the new 3rd Generation iPod touch!

Getting inside

Getting inside

Our analysis reveals a Broadcom BCM4329 chip, which supports 802.11n. This is a big deal, as even the iPhone 3GS doesn’t support 802.11n. The iPhone 3GS has a BCM4325 wireless chip, which only supports 802.11 a/b/g. We don’t know yet if 802.11n will be supported in software, but at least the hardware’s there.

This reminds us of last year when we broke the news that the 2nd Generation touch had Bluetooth support in hardware. Apple didn’t enable software support until 9 months later with iPhone OS 3.0.

The Broadcom chip also supports FM transmission. There’s Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a FM receiver and transmitter packed into this chip. If they built in the antennas, and if Apple adds software support, you could theoretically stream music to your car stereo without any external hardware. But that’s a lot of ifs.

New Broadcom BCM4329 chip

New Broadcom BCM4329 chip

We also analyzed the internal layout of the iPod, and it appears that Apple left room for a camera in the top of the device. There is a 6mm x 6mm x 3mm space between the Broadcom chip and the wireless antenna. There isn’t enough depth for an iPhone-style autofocus still camera, but just enough room for the camera that Apple used in the 5th Generation iPod nano. We did not find any headers on the board for a camera cable.

Space for a camera?

Space for a camera?

Video Camera Unveiled: iPod nano Teardown

September 10, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Kyle Wiens

We took apart the new 5th Generation iPod nano! We have finished our hardware analysis and high-resolution photos of the internals.

This iPod employs copious amounts of glue and adhesive to hold everything together. That makes it easy for Apple to put together, but hard to take apart. We had to remove the camera bezel before we could start the disassembly.

Complete parts disassembly

Complete parts disassembly

This iPod employs copious amounts of glue and adhesive to hold everything together. That makes it easy for Apple to put together, but hard to take apart. We had to remove the camera bezel before we could start the disassembly.
As expected, the main ARM processor dwarfs everything else on the board.
Toshiba is the source for the 8 GB of flash memory. Our memory chips were made in Taiwan in July of this year.
There is no space for a larger camera in the 6.2 mm thick iPod without reducing the size of other components.
The speaker is very similar to the speaker in the iPod touch. The audio simply comes out the bottom of the iPod.
The new 240×376 display boasts 17.5% more screen real estate than the previous model.
The tolerances on this iPod are incredibly tight. There’s no wasted space inside.

Things we noticed:

  • As expected, the main ARM processor dwarfs everything else on the board.
  • Toshiba is the source for the 8 GB of flash memory. Our memory chips were made in Taiwan in July of this year.
  • There is no space for a larger camera in the 6.2 mm thick iPod without reducing the size of other components.
  • The speaker is very similar to the speaker in the iPod touch. The audio simply comes out the bottom of the iPod.
  • The new 240×376 display boasts 17.5% more screen real estate than the previous model.
  • The tolerances on this iPod are incredibly tight. There’s no wasted space inside.
The nanos little video camera

The nano's little video camera

Size comparison:

  • iPhone 3G: 12.3 mm thick
  • iPhone camera: 6 mm + rubber mount
  • iPod nano: 6.2 mm thick
  • iPod nano camera: 2.75 mm
  • iPod touch: 8.5 mm thick

Including the mount, the iPhone camera is thicker than the ENTIRE new iPod nano!

Unlike the nano, the iPod touch could conceivably support an iPhone-sized camera, although it would certainly be an engineering challenge.

We wish Apple would a little effort into making iPods repairable, instead of forcing people to throw them away when they break. Recent iPods have become increasingly difficult to successfully repair. (One positive note is that unlike the iPhone, we haven’t seen many issues with broken glass on the nanos.)

Our iPod nano teardown is here:
http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPod-Nano-5th-Generation/1157/1

Sliding out the Nanos internals

Sliding out the nano's internals

Taking out the iPods click wheel

Taking out the iPod's click wheel

Camera surgery

Camera surgery

PlayStation 3 Slim Teardown!

August 26, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We have just taken apart the new PlayStation 3 Slim!

Sony clearly took cooling very seriously with this machine, which is quite easy to take apart but requires special security-bit Torx screwdrivers to dismantle.

We made a video of the result as well. Feel free to check it out on YouTube!

Highlights from the teardown:

* Sony stuck with a lot of the same chip manufacturers as the original PlayStation 3. We were expecting them to shift suppliers more, especially with commodity components like Apple has done.

* The upgraded 120 GB drive is a Toshiba-manufactured, 5400 RPM standard notebook SATA drive.

* The interior of the device is dominated by the fan, heatsink, and desktop computer-sized Blu-ray drive.

* The fan is an innovative design, with a massive 95mm diameter and whopping 17 blades!

* Sony used a Marvell Ethernet controller, Panasonic HDMI controller, and their own Sony-branded AV multi-out controller.

* The design aesthetic of this machine is a bit more bare-bones-functional than Apple’s, but is still beautiful in its own way.

* It’s evident that Sony’s chief design focus was effective heat dissipation. Sony used a large piece of custom molded plastic to route air from the fan over the heatsink. Time will tell how successful they were.

* This PS3 feels quite rugged. The plastic is stiff and high-quality, and the machine is very easy to service once you have the right Torx screwdriver.

Some pictures from the teardown:

Taking out the logic board

Taking out the logic board

The Cell processor

The Cell processor

We Tear Apart a Barista!

August 13, 2009 Hardware, Teardowns — Miro

We just finished a teardown of the Barista, Starbucks’ most iconic and longest-selling consumer espresso machine.

The Barista has a sturdy, elegant design that has stood the test of time quite well. Its popularity is reflected by the fact that it’s still available at a reasonable price.

It’s easy enough to buy the machine and start using it — but what about all the people who were part of creating it? The guy who slaved for hours in creating the perfect spring for the reciprocating pump? The person in charge of making sure the Barista doesn’t burn a hole in your kitchen counter? This one’s for you, friends.

We are expanding our teardowns to include all sorts of other gear. We want to show people that appliances such as the Starbucks Barista have a lot of sweat, thought, and engineering put into them — even though they may not make the cover of the latest electronics magazines.

Removing the boiler:

Using our makeshift flathead screwdriver:

Teardown Introduction Guide

July 6, 2009 Events, Teardowns — Miro

We gave our technical writers free rein and told them to “come up with something funny” as an introduction to our new teardown system. Their training at the German School of Technical Writing* did not help at all (as the trainers managed to take out all the funny bones out our writers’ bodies). Yet we managed, through various iterations, to have them write a guide that is somewhat-hilarious. We linked to this guide when we announced our new teardown platform, but we felt it deserved its own post.

The teardown introduction guide points out the most effective method known to man for obtaining a gadget: camping in front of the store.**  It also goes through the intricacies of purchasing the gadget and opening the box. Very exciting stuff.

The guys also managed to spend almost six hours taking photos for the final picture, and another four hours editing them in PhotoShop.*** It turns out it’s super hard to impose a green background and black out the people, all the while keeping the iPod headphones white. Eventually they figured out a suitable technique and succeeded in their endeavors.

We applaud them for their efforts, and hope they enjoy being unemployed.****

The fine print:

*No such school exists, to the best of our knowledge. We apologize in advance if there actually is a German School of Technical Writing.

**That may or may not be the most effective method.

***Total time was closer to four hours.

****No tech writers were fired or harmed while making this guide.

iPhone 3GS Teardown

June 19, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — luke

We just flew Kyle, our CEO, to London so he could take apart the iPhone 3GS. The results are in, and here’s what we found:

  • Thankfully, opening the iPhone 3GS is as simple as the 3G. After removing two Phillips screws, the two halves of the phone are separated easily using a suction cup.
  • The iPhone is differentiated externally only by a new model number, A1303. The lettering on the back is now shiny, like the Apple logo.
  • The internal physical design is virtually identical to the iPhone 3G. A random passerby on the street would not know the difference. Heck, even we were struggling to differentiate the two.
  • The new graphics core should drastically improve performance, meaning Apple’s serious about the handheld gaming market.
  • There’s still a “Do not remove” sticker above the logic board. Naturally, we removed it.
  • Nearly all components have been relocated to the front side of the main PCB, including the Bluetooth, Wi–Fi, and Flash memory chips.
  • The battery is 4.51 Watt-hours, or 1219 mAh. That’s about 6% larger than the iPhone 3G’s battery. Hopefully the hardware runs more efficiently, since increased battery life will not come from the battery itself.
  • There is an additional antenna connection near the dock connector. We’re not sure what for just yet. However, we do love exploring these teasers… Stay tuned!
  • For those who are wondering about the fingerprint-resistant coating on their iPhone 3GS screen: The oleophobic, or oil-proof, technology evolved from waterproofing. Oil-proof technology is harder to achieve as oil has a much lower surface tension than water, so it spreads out easier and thus is harder to get rid off. MIT’s solution was to create a coating material which creates a layer of micro fibers, but with a much larger contact angle between the oil droplets and the fibers.

Some comments on usability of the 3GS:

  • Camera quality is much improved from the 3G. Close-up shots were possible down to about 5 cm, and the brightness adjusted well when picking a focus area.
  • The oleophobic screen does seem to clean slightly easier than the 3G’s normal screen.
  • Google Earth (duration of the spinning load wheel) (over Wi-Fi): 3GS: 4.9 sec; 3G: 22.2 sec. A bit faster than Apple’s claim of 2X speed improvement — although we know that one simple test of one application means little in the real world.

We’ll post more notes on the hardware as we analyze it further.

iPhone 3G S Parts

iPhone 3G S Parts

MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody Teardown

June 10, 2009 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We just completed our teardown of the MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody. We found that there’s very little difference between it and its predecessor, the MacBook Unibody. Here are some interesting tidbits about the MacBook Pro 13″:

  • The SD card slot is rather unimaginative, and half the card hangs outside the computer. Apparently, Apple couldn’t free up enough space for a slot that would make the card completely captive.
  • Fortunately, Apple did free up space to include a single FireWire 800 port.
  • The battery is easily user-upgradeable. All you need is a small Phillips screwdriver to open the case, and a tri-wing screwdriver to remove the battery.
  • The battery is definitely heavier (360 grams compared to 302 g for the old one). However, its capacity is 60 Watt-hours, compared to the lighter battery’s 45 W-h.
  • Apple’s claim for battery life in now 7 hours, compared to the MacBook’s 5 hours.
  • The new battery is not interchangeable at all with the older MacBook Unibody. The connectors, size, and shape are different, preventing easy DIY battery rigging.
  • The mid wall dividing the MacBook Pro is now attached to the top case. In the previous model, it was held in by four Phillips screws — just goes to show what Apple is trying to help out its DIY customers.
  • Aside from a couple of visual cues found outside, a casual user would not be able to discern if this was a MacBook Unibody or MacBook Pro.
  • Most screw layouts and brackets are identical to the old MacBook Unibody.
  • Despite now being a “Pro,” the machine makes do with only a single audio jack. The jack supports both analog and digital audio-out, as well as analog audio-in. If you need digital audio-in, this is not the machine for you.

We also just released a full set of MacBook Unibody repair guides. The design is similar enough that the guides can also be used to repair a MacBook Pro 13″ Unibody.

If there are any details you’d like us to investigate, leave a comment in the teardown or hit us up on twitter: @ifixit