MacBook Unibody Mid 2010 Teardown

May 20, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

Apple’s MacBook went under the knife last year and received a major makeover. This year, the laptop received much milder internal changes, most notably a better graphics processor and more battery life.

We delved inside the MacBook to find exactly how that additional battery juice was achieved, as well as to see if there were any magical unicorns that Apple chose to keep hidden from public view.

We also made a YouTube video slideshow for those who like moving pictures!

Teardown highlights:

  • The battery is identical in size and shape to the old one, but is rated for 63.5 Wh (compared to 60Wh) and weighs 355 g (compared to 347.5 g).
  • The battery also works in the previous MacBook! You can get an extra 350 mAh of electric charge if you’re willing to add 7.5 grams to your older machine.
  • Of course, Apple continues to use tri-wing screws for the battery, as well as the “Do not remove the battery” warning sticker. We ask: why is it such a big deal to have users replace it themselves?
  • We confirmed the updated NVIDIA GeForce 320M integrated graphics, much to the thrill of lite gamers everywhere.
  • No MacBooks were hurt, in any way, shape, or form, during the teardown process.

Final layout

Removing the heat sink

Microsoft Kin Two Teardown

May 18, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We partnered with Chipworks to bring you a teardown of the all-new Microsoft Kin Two.

Kin Two’s most notable feature is the Nvidia Tegra processor, which Chipworks found buried beneath a Numonyx package that’s visible on the logic board.

Chipworks confirmed that it was indeed the Nvidia Tegra after a morning of taking x-rays and de-potting chips. Don’t worry kids, no animals were harmed in the process.

Teardown highlights:

  • The Kin Two is 19.05 mm thick. That makes for a bigger bulge in the pants, given that the iPhone and Motorola Droid are 12.3 mm and 13.7 mm thick, respectively. (Enter “Is that a Kin Two, or are you happy to see me?” jokes here.)
  • The Kin Two has two very cool-looking (to a mechanical engineer) springs that keep the phone’s halves either fully-open or fully-closed.
  • For being able to shoot all of 8 megapixels, the camera only eats up about .5 cm^3 of space.
  • Samsung’s moviNAND KLM8G4DEDD package supplies the 8GB of storage space for the Kin. It features a very advanced thirty nanometer architecture, and can transfer data at speeds up to 52 MB/s.
  • The camera is the Sony IMX046. The IMX046 is fabricated using a 90 nm CMOS process. The camera’s resolution is 8.11 effective megapixel (8 active megapixel), 1.4 μm sized pixel, 1/3.2″ optical format. Samsung was the first to use this camera in the M8800.
  • Taking a cue from the iPhone and Zune HD, the Kin Two has an accelerometer. It’s an STMicro 331DL 3 Axis nano MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) device.

You can find more information on the Kin Two on Chipworks’ site.

iPhone 4G Processor Revealed

May 12, 2010 Hardware, Site News — Miro

Today’s photos from Vietnam of a leaked iPhone 4G prototype contain legible part numbers revealing new iPhone’s processor: the Apple A4.

The silkscreen on the production A4 reads:

  • APL0398 339S0084 YNL215X0
  • K4X2G643GE N26CGM0T

The leaked prototype has these markings:

  • APL0398 339S0084 YNE07423
  • K4X2G643GE GSA1400A

The two numbers that are different are likely manufacturing numbers (each lot of chips is stamped with a unique number to track them through the supply chain). The important numbers are:

  • APL0398 339S0084 <– Apple A4
  • K4X2G643GE <– 256 MB Samsung DRAM (two dies)

Our engineers are not surprised by this finding. We were very impressed by the extraordinarily low power consumption of the iPad, and remarked at the time that its power consumption and board design was much more in line with handheld devices than laptop computers.

In conjunction with Chipworks, we have already reported heavily on the design of the A4. Our Apple A4 teardown goes into detail on how the A4 is constructed.

Chipworks has more information here:

Chipworks' Logic Diagram of A4 Processor

iPad Wi-Fi Wallpaper

May 10, 2010 Hardware, Site News — Miro

Hey folks, here’s another great iFixit wallpaper for you to enjoy! We snapped a few photos of the iPad internals during the iPad Wi-Fi teardown and correctly cropped them so you could peer through the LCD in your iPad.

Predictably enough, we encountered one small problem after we put the wallpaper on our tablet: the iPad’s uncanny ability to rotate the display, including the wallpaper itself. During “quality assurance testing,” the portrait wallpaper didn’t look too appealing in landscape mode, and vice versa. But we realized that most iPad users keep it locked on a specific orientation most of the time, so we created both orientations to mitigate the problem.

So here are two iPad “internals” wallpapers, one for landscape mode and one for portrait mode.

How to set it as your wallpaper on your iPad:

  • Click on the links above or pictures below to view the whole wallpaper.
  • Long-press on the image to save it.
  • Go to your images, find the right wallpaper image and click the options button in the top-right corner to set it as wallpaper.

This is how the iPad wallpapers look like when on the iPad itself:

That’s so Meta!

May 4, 2010 Hardware, Meta, Site News — Kyle Wiens

We discourage discussion about iFixit in our Answers site. Why? Because people who come to Answers are looking for help with hardware troubleshooting. They don’t want to hear about our community policy for helping people reset their passwords, or have to sift through new feature requests. They just want to learn about hardware! Like Fight Club, the golden rule on iFixit is to not talk about iFixit.

Online communities run into this problem all the time. The die-hard, dedicated members want (and need) to talk about how to get better at what they do, and how to make the community better. But it’s also important not to intermingle this discussion with questions from regular users.

Our favorite meta mug. Thanks for letting us help you help others!

We’ve used UserVoice for feedback in the past, but it doesn’t allow discussion in a way we find particularly engaging, and it doesn’t integrate nicely with our single-iFixit login. So we’re going to use the same software we use for Answers! Today, we are launching meta.ifixit.com. Why meta? Our dictionary defines the prefix “meta-” as “denoting a change of position or condition,” and we think that’s exactly right. We want to continue moving our community and content forward, constantly evolving to get better at helping people fix things. Meta is going to be the place where we, as a community, decide how to evolve.

We have a few ideas for things we want to do on Meta. You may have some more. Think of this as a brainstormed list of ways we can all brainstorm together. How Meta!

  • Discuss new feature ideas, software changes, and report bugs. We’re hoping this will be the perfect place to interact with the software development team behind iFixit.
  • Document the details of our platform. We’ve rolled out a tremendous number of new features lately, and we need a place to keep you in the loop on how everything works.
  • Request content and discuss development of future content. I really want someone to write a Super Nintendo repair guide. It’s the only major gaming console for which we don’t already have a repair manual!
  • Set community policy. We don’t control iFixit, and Meta will give us an open, democratic forum to discuss and set policies.
  • Make decisions about content organization. Users with moderator privileges can make bulk device changes, like changing MBP 15″ to MacBook Pro 15″, and Meta will be a good place to request changes like this.
  • Have a little bit of fun. Not too much, mind you. But if we’re all not enjoying helping people fix things, then we’re doing it wrong.
  • Discuss our mission. It’s important to learn each other’s background and talk about why we all do what we do.

We have made a few changes to our Answers engine to support Meta. We have a new ‘discussion’ mode that you can set on questions. Discussion topics ‘opt out’ of our reputation system, so votes on questions and answers don’t impact your reputation. Reputation earned on meta is completely separate from reputation on the main site.

How do we organize Meta?

Tags. Every thread can have up to four tags, and we’ll use these to categorize questions. Tags will be much more important on Meta than they are on Answers, because (obviously) threads can’t be organized by device.

What Meta is not for:

iFixit support. As we’ve done with Answers, we’ll keep routing sales support questions to our customer service team and removing them from the public site.

Software troubleshooting. There are better sites out there for software problems. We’re staying focused on our core mission: Making hardware work longer.

Postscript

Once again, we are hugely influenced by those who have gone before us. In this case, iFixit Meta is 100% inspired by StackOverflow Meta. Thanks to Jeff and all the folks who have contributed to make Stack Overflow awesome!

iPad 3G Teardown

April 30, 2010 Hardware, Site News, Teardowns — Miro

We leisurely waltzed into line around 4:40 today and were one of the first of 30 people to get an iPad 3G at our local Apple store!

It’s great not to have to fly across the world and wait overnight in line.

The iPad 3G definitely shows some interesting differences when compared to its Wi-Fi-only sibling, mostly due to its additional 3G / GPS functionality.

Teardown Highlights:

  • The immediate visible difference is the inclusion of a black plastic RF window on top of the iPad for better antenna reception.
  • The black RF window significantly changes the opening procedure. You cannot start separating the display using the notches on the top (à la Wi-Fi version), since that will undoubtedly break the RF window. You have to start from the right side and gingerly proceed to the top and bottom of the iPad.
  • There are actually FIVE antennas in this iPad:
    • Two antennas handle the cell reception — one is in the RF window on top, the other attaches to the LCD frame.
    • There’s a single GPS antenna that is also housed in the RF window on top.
    • Just like the iPad Wi-Fi, there are two antennas that handle Wi-Fi / Bluetooth connectivity, one in the Apple logo and another to the left of the dock connector.
  • Who would’ve thought: Apple uses the same 3G baseband processor in both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad 3G.
  • The baseband processor in question is the Infineon 337S3754 PMB 8878 X-Gold IC. It was actually white-labeled on the production unit, but with enough sleuthing we were able to confirm its true identity.
  • The iPad 3G has a Broadcom BCM4750UBG Single-Chip AGPS Solution, whereas the iPhone 3GS uses an Infineon Hammerhead II package. Big win for Broadcom!

Final layout

The communications board

Copper foil attaching the second antenna

The Future of iFixit Content

April 28, 2010 Hardware, Site News — Miro

iFixit’s emphasis on electronics

iFixit started out by creating repair guides for Mac laptops, and over time expanded to iPods, iPhones, and iMacs. We’ve established a strong repair guide foundation in Apple products, as well as a solid reputation for being the first to tear down the latest electronics on the market.

Last week we released our open repair manual wiki for everyone to utilize. It might seem like a fair assumption that content on iFixit should be centered around electronics, but we want to stress that our repair focus is much more broad than that — think Wikipedia scale. We feel everything deserves the chance to be repaired, regardless of whether it’s a pair of jeans or an iPad.

Content that we welcome

We want to include repair information for anything that the community feels needs repair information. Some examples include:

  • Automobiles: You can add more background information on your Honda Accord, or show someone how to replace the brakes on your Dodge Caravan.
  • Game Consoles: Perhaps you’re a wizard of the SNES console, and can create some awesome repair guides for it; or maybe you know of a stellar solution for the Xbox 360’s Red Ring of Death.
  • Household Repair: Maybe you’ve repaired the base of a lamp or a vacuum cleaner and would like to share how you did it.
  • Motorcycles: The Suzuki FA50 is the only “motorcycle” on our site, so this section definitely could use some more repair guides.
  • You name it: The areas above are just a start. You can add areas for power tools, bicycles, other types of electronics (think multimeters, robots, HDTVs, etc.), camping gear, sports equipment — the list goes on. The community is the ultimate decision maker on what makes it to the site. What are you interested in fixing?

Less welcome content

Simply put, we don’t want content that’s not repair-related. That includes kung-pao chicken recipes, tips and secrets for beating Farmville, and pictures of funny kittens. Ask yourself: “Will someone benefit from this information when they’re trying to repair their device?” If the answer is “Yes,” you should definitely add it to iFixit’s growing database.

Gray areas

The community will also have to determine which gray areas to include, and which do not belong on the site. For example, is a Motorola Droid unlocking guide something that belongs on iFixit? On one hand, unlocking a Droid doesn’t seem like a repair procedure. But if making the Droid function on another network is required for it to be useful in Uganda, then perhaps that’s something that the community would want to enable. It’s up to you to decide.

I want to contribute. But where do I put the information?

It depends on the type of information you’d like to contribute. If you want to make a repair guide for a device, start one. If you’re looking to add a picture or a summary for a device, or polish a repair guide, visit the Contribute page. On there you will see a list of all the devices and repair guides that need fixing. If you’d like to just add links to web resources — such as a really cool forum that contains a wealth of information on the device — just visit the device’s page and click “Edit” on the top right corner. It’s as simple as that.

Maker Faire 2010

April 26, 2010 Events, Site News — aguenther

Maker Faire will invade the San Mateo County Event Center May 22-23, and we need your help to run the iFixit Repair Center! The festival is the epitome of the do-it-yourself mentality. There is no larger concentration of geeky hobbyists and enthusiastic inventors than at Maker Faire.

The exhibits border on insane: remote-controlled R2D2’s, 15ft twin tesla coils, trebuchet contests, two-story-tall mechanical giraffes; and that is only a sampling of the courtyards outside the main exhibitors’ hall.

For the past few years we have gone to Maker Faire to spread our knowledge of how to fix things. This year our presence is going to be greater than ever. Not only will we be showing people how to fix things, we will be writing repair manuals on the spot. To make all of this happen we are going to need YOUR help!

We’re looking for people with repair experience in:

  • Automobiles
  • Bicycles
  • Motorcycles
  • Macs
  • Appliances
  • Clothing
  • Musical Instruments
  • Electronics
  • Mobile Phones

As a volunteer, you will help people with problems within your area of expertise, but also get a chance to talk to other experts and resolve some problems you might be having!

Volunteers will be provided with free Maker Faire admission, a pass to the invite-only “Maker to Maker” event on Friday, an iFixit t-shirt, and other cool perks!

To volunteer, just fill out our Maker Faire volunteer form.

All volunteers should receive an email confirming their volunteer status within a week. Volunteers will be assigned one or more shifts depending on their preferences and availability.

We are updating our Maker Faire 2010 section with the latest news — check periodically for additional information. Please email us with any questions, and let us know as soon as possible if you can contribute to this awesome event!

How to Contribute

April 25, 2010 Site News — Kyle Wiens

There’s a big task ahead of us: writing a repair manual for every device in the world. We’ve divided the task into lots of smaller parts to simplify contributing to the site, even if you have only a couple of minutes to spare. Here is some helpful information to get you started!

The easiest thing you can do is start adding device photos to new repair manuals. It only takes a few minutes, and encourages other people to add more content.

Getting Started

Photography

Writing

Examples

I learn best by watching other people do great work, and then immediately jumping in feet-first and trying it out myself. The community has posted some great repair guides in the last few days that are worth learning from. The photos on this LG VX9200 LCD repair guide could use some improvement, but the writing is superb. Some of our simpler repair guides are also worth learning from.

If you’re working on instructions for a device that already has some step-by-step guides, it’s important not to duplicate content. We allow you to build on top of existing instructions by using prerequisites. I’ll talk more about how prerequisites work in another post, but there is a brief description here and you can see examples in our repair manuals.

Welcome to Repair 2.0

April 22, 2010 Events, Site News — luke

Today iFixit is changing repair forever. Today — Earth Day, 2010 — we are launching a global repair community. Our goal? To teach every person on Earth how to fix every thing they own.

You know us as the folks who take apart new hardware and show people how to fix Apple products. We’re not going to stop doing any of that, but starting today we are going to massively expand our scope: We are relaunching iFixit as the free repair manual that anyone can edit.

Repair is stuck in the 20th century. Service manuals are almost never available online, and the few troubleshooting forums that exist are rife with spam and ad-baiting. Reliable parts suppliers that understand e-commerce are few and far between.

Making repair accessible to everyone is the best shot we’ve got at reducing e-waste and starting to make our high-tech lives sustainable. We can’t keep throwing away cell phones every 18 months! We need to get every last bit of functionality from the things we own before we toss them aside.

What if everyone had free access to a repair manual for everything they owned? How much longer would our things last? Our mission is to give people the information, parts, and tools they need to make their things work as long as possible.

We showed our vision to officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, and they were ecstatic. Andrew Fanara, Product Development Team Leader for the ENERGY STAR Program, commented that “the EPA would like to see more done about the growing e-waste problem, and iFixit has a novel, community-driven approach to make electronics work longer. We are encouraged by their solution, and are looking forward to observing the environmental impact of iFixit’s platform.”

Join us, and together we’ll fix the world!